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Choose your sideThe idea behind the Rift is simple: for each topic of debate, we provide you with an expertise based on a pro-con approach, written by competent and legitimate experts. We want to help you make your own opinion, and guide you on first steps to civic engagement.
Ending the accession negotiations would be the first failure of the EU’s most successful policy
Executive chairman of the Istanbul based EDAM Think Tank and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe
Yes, definitely. It is clear that today this process has reached a standstill which has to do with the political dynamics in Turkey but also in Europe. Yet, the process remains a win-win for both sides. There is no real advantage in allowing this historic experiment to fail. Ending the accession negotiations would be the first failure of what is generally seen as the EU’s most successful policy, namely that of enlargement.
The EU accession dynamic would create a virtuous cycle of domestic reforms
It may very well be that in the end, Turkey will never become a EU member. But keeping Turkey anchored in the accession track still remains the optimal option.
In the near future, a different political leadership in Turkey could decide to re-vitalize political reforms. The EU accession dynamic would then create a virtuous cycle of domestic reforms leading to progress in the negotiations. In the past, the accession objective provided a strong and overriding narrative for domestic reforms. That has been the case for Turkey as well as a host of other candidate countries in the past. This potential remains very tangible and real.
In light of the current difficulties however, not an alternative but a complementary framework to accession is needed to restructure the Turkey-EU cooperation in areas that are of mutual interest such as trade, refugees, energy, security, counter-terrorism and foreign policy. But even the effectiveness of this framework of cooperation will be greatly influenced by whether Turkish policy makers will continue to see their future within the EU.
The debate of Turkish accession is also a reflection on how the EU conceives its future in the global and regional order
But also from the EU perspective, ending the negotiations would amount to accepting that Europe has no transformative agenda and ambition for one of its most strategically important neighbours. In many ways therefore the debate of Turkish accession is also a reflection on how the EU conceives its future in the global and regional order. An ambitionless EU could indeed contemplate to terminate Turkey’s membership goal. In return, for an EU that contemplates a more active and influential role on the world stage for itself, especially in light of the evolution of the relationship with the US, the will to retain Turkey well anchored to Europe as a future member nation should be stronger.
Turkey should follow the EU basic values
MEP for Germany, Christian Democratic Union (CDU), European People’s Party
Turkey has always been an important neighbour of the European Union.
However, a close cooperation can only be realised if it is based on human rights, the respect of the fundamental freedoms, democratic values and the rule of law.
The Turkish government has long put back its European ambitions
Nevertheless, the developments in recent years have shown that the Turkish government has long put back its European ambitions. The annual so-called “Progress Report on Turkey” de facto became a “Regress Report”, and the European Commission renamed it in “Annual Report on Turkey”. The rule of law has been abolished, human and minority rights trampled on, opposition members, critics, journalists and religious minorities are persecuted, arbitrariness and a climate of fear prevail.
In order to turn the wheel around and to push Ankara to respect human rights, freedom of religion and democracy the European Parliament in July 2017 demanded the official suspension of the accession negotiations with Turkey in case the new constitution that ignores core European values would come into force. Meanwhile the latest has happened. The new constitution now allows the president to govern the country by decree and to control everything. The Great Turkish National Assembly is disempowered, and so is democracy. In addition, the Turkish government is increasingly disrespecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbouring EU countries and up-to-date never acknowledged the Republic of Cyprus as a sovereign state and EU member.
The relationship between the EU and Turkey should be redefined as an effective partnership
Under all these circumstances, pursuing the accession negotiations would be a farce and not help anybody. That is why the European Parliament now demands the relationship between the EU and Turkey to be redefined in terms of an effective partnership. This future cooperation should be based on the Customs Union, which is more than ever of the utmost importance for Turkey: The state is deeply in debt, the Turkish economy in free fall, unemployment and prices in Turkey are rising steadily and the decline in inflation is not in sight. The country needs money, and President Erdogan needs economic successes to be re-elected.
The current Customs Union and its possible future “modernisation”, which means the opening for agricultural products, public procurement and services, are vital for a political change in Turkey because the European Parliament demands a conditionality. We want the Turkish side to follow the EU basic values. In addition, Turkey has to recognise all our Member States and, therefore, to commit and contribute to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question and to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbours.