Summary: Back in the 1960s the EU accepted the idea of Turkish membership in a fit of absent-mindedness, not as part of a coherent strategy. EU leaders and their voters are mostly unenthusiastic about the idea of Turkey joining the EU, and many prominent politicians openly oppose it. Yet the EU has made a series of half-hearted promises over four decades that will eventually force it to accept Turkey u0096 grudgingly and with great misgivings. Now the EU needs to think strategically about this relationship rather than continue to drift. Turkeyu0092s membership aspirations are widely seen as a threat to European integration, but they are really an astonishing opportunity for the EU. Turkey is the largest and strategically most important country ever to apply for membership. It is a valuable partner for the EU in the Black Sea region and the Middle East. Every time the EU has set new conditions for starting negotiations, Turkey has met them. The current government in Ankara has pushed through deeply controversial reforms of the Turkish state, to comply with EU accession requirements. The EU is able to exercise u0091soft poweru0092 in Turkey on an unprecedented scale u0096 and in a strongly nationalistic, proud country. The United States cannot boast that any country has ever adopted its norms and followed its policy preferences so closely as Turkey has followed the EUu0092s. For anyone who wants the EU to have a credible foreign policy, the Unionu0092s relationship with Turkey is a great success story. But for that success to continue, negotiations have to start. There are good and bad reasons for the EU to accept Turkey as a member. The worst reason to pursue accession is that the member states can find no alternative, even if their populations remain largely opposed to Turkish membership of the EU. In that case, negotiations will be slow, member states will be reluctant to close chapters, and the Turks will become extremely frustrated. The best reason for Turkeyu0092s accession is if the Turkish authorities use the acce
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