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Turkey Between East and West

dissertation on the current status and future direction of Turkish foreign policy in the European Union and the Middle East

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Turkey Between East and West

dissertation on the current status and future direction of Turkish foreign policy in the European Union and the Middle East

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

Turkey's historical focus on the European Union dates back to the Ottoman period. In this era, numerous developments clearly illustrated Turkey's focus on the EU. These developments included among others the Tanzimat, literally 'reorganisation', which implies secularization of the judicial system, and reforming bureaucracy, the army, and education. By signing the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the independence of the modern Republic of Turkey was officially recognised, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk proclaimed the Turkish Republic on October 29, 1923. Turkey has established close relationships with the West and is a key ally to both the European Union and the United States. Turkey's membership of NATO since 1952, and its candidate for membership to the European Union very much contributed to these strong relations.
In 2005, the European Commission unanimously indicated that Turkey sufficiently fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria and decided to open the accession negotiations with Turkey. Today, these criteria are still a major hindrance in Turkey's accession process to the EU. The Cyprus issue, Turkey's respect of human rights and the Kurdish issue are only a few of the many obstacles in Turkey's accession process to the EU. These obstacles, followed by developments in the international political environment in the last decade, resulted in an impasse between Turkey and the European Union in terms of accession negotiations.
The transformation of the international political structure after the Cold War and Turkey's success in managing its domestic economic and security problems in the late 90's, led Turkey to redefine its foreign policy. The AK Party's political objectives, together with the in 2009 appointed foreign minister's policy approach, has drawn much global attention. Turkey's current foreign policy approach, where the term "a shift of axis" is often mentioned in the political field, suggests that Turkey is drifting away from the West, and conducts a more eastern-oriented foreign policy. Indeed, foreign minister Davutoğlu and the current AK Party government both have developed more interest and activity in its surrounding regions. The transition of Turkey's traditional foreign policy, based on the Kemalist ideology, to its current, where Turkey is now more focused on its Islamic neighbours and surrounding regions, also referred to as the 'new' Turkish foreign policy, raised concerns in the European Union, where Turkey's commitment to EU membership and its Western Alliance is seriously questioned.
One of Davutolğu's operational principles in Turkey's 'new' foreign policy, the so-called 'zero problems with neighbours policy' was successful as it helped Turkey to create a greater role in the Middle East. However, the Arab Spring has put Turkey in a difficult position. As regimes fell in several Middle Eastern countries and civil uprisings erupted, Turkey's policy of 'zero problems with neighbours' now in fact meant 'having zero problems with regimes'. Due to the Syrian uprisings, tensions with the Iraqi government, and rivalry with Iran, Turkey's foreign policy in the Middle East came under severe pressure. With the support of Iran and Iraq for the Assad regime, and Turkey's support for the Syrian opposition, Turkey's current and stable relation with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq seems to be the only that is in line with Turkey's zero problems policy at the moment.
Turkey's threats in the EU are present in several forms. One of these threats is the probability of obtaining the preferred privileged partnership status instead of full membership to the EU. An opportunity is the Positive Agenda, launched by the EU, aiming to make concrete progress and enhance cooperation between Turkey and the European Union. A threat for Turkey in the Middle East is the aggravation of the Kurdish issue, and an opportunity is Turkey's growing influence in the region.

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OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2012
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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