Turkey is less an EU candidate country, more a strategic partner, speaker says
Turkey’s relations with the European Union were discussed at a Centre for Turkey Studies event in parliament held on Wednesday 8 March.
The event, hosted by Conservative MP for North Wiltshire James Gray, was chaired by Bill Park of King’s College.
Mr Gray opened the event by discussing his interest in Turkish nationalists and expressed his view that geopolitically speaking, Turkey is currently one of the most important countries due to its central position between the East and the West.
Bill Park, meanwhile, said that Turkey was going through a state of change that involved several elements of surprise and shock. In addition, he said, there exists a continuing economic crisis in Southern Europe and less confidence in the EU than before. Therefore, this debate not only covers the dynamics between Turkey and the EU, it covers what happens separately within the two.
Dr Senem Aydin-Duzgit opened by discussing a book titled ‘Turkey and the European Union’ that she wrote alongside Nathalie Tocci which was published in June 2015. Since being published, Dr Duzgit said there had been a high amount of change within the Turkey and EU relations and said this demonstrated how change can happen rapidly.
She noted that within the European Union, talk on Turkey had shifted from Turkey being a candidate country to Turkey as a strategic partner of the EU.
She listed the reasons as the following: there is a reluctance from the EU to even discuss enlargement. In Turkey, the EU is completely off the agenda. Although an EU Ministry still exists, there is little political commitment to the accession process. In Turkey, there is a loss of interest in the EU.
According to Dr Duzgit, after the AKP’s third term in government, the EU was no longer instrumental and became more of a liability than an asset for the government.