Summary: Turkey could be the EU's biggest success in foreign affairs. Europeans should be proud that they are transforming, in a peaceful manner, the political system of a country as large and complex as Turkey. Regime change EU-style is cheap, voluntary and long-lasting. Turkey also has a lot to contribute to EU policies for the wider Middle East: credibility, political access and economic leverage. But compared to the rest of the Middle East, Turkey's case is unique: it has long-standing ties with the West; a secular state structure; and the bait of EU membership has transformed its political elite. The paper argues that Turkey is an asset for the EU, but not a model for the Middle East. The author believes that Turkey deserves a u0091yesu0092 from EU leaders in December to start accession negotiations. In return, Turkey must maintain the reform momentum, accept stringent monitoring, and make greater efforts to persuade a sceptical West European public that Turkeyu0092s accession is in their interest too. The practical and symbolic effects of Turkeyu0092s membership on the EUu0092s policies and (self) image would be considerable, though not revolutionary. Turkey has a lot to contribute to EU policies on the Middle East: credibility, political access, know-how and economic leverage. If handled deftly, the prospect of Turkeyu0092s accession could be a real boon for EU influence in the region. The reverse is also true: a rejection of Turkey would not only jeopardise the reform momentum inside the country, but also counter the pro-EU and moderating shift in its regional policy. The EU would forego Turkeyu0092s contributions. And a shunned Turkey will more likely side with the US u0096 both in particular instances such as Iran or Israel-Palestine, and in its overall foreign policy philosophy.
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