Since the publication of the first FEUTURE newsletter in May 2016, the EU and Turkey have entered an area of turbulence. In few weeks two major “incidents” have occurred. The first was already in our agendas: on June 23 2016 the citizens of the United Kingdom voted in favour of leaving the EU. The second was unforeseen: on July 15 2016 Turkey suffered a coup attempt, the fifth in the last sixty years and the first to fail. Although very different in nature, both events are likely to drive EU-Turkey relations towards a crossroads with unexpected turns.
What does the Brexit mean for EU-Turkey relations? Firstly, it means that Turkey has lost a natural ally. London has been one the most supportive countries of Turkey’s EU membership as well as EU enlargement in general and even if it has not yet quit the EU its capacity to shape strategic decisions on the future of the EU has vanished. One of the side effects will be that Germany will see its influence reinforced and this is likely to have an impact on the EU-Turkey agenda. Secondly, it has remembered everybody of the centrality of migration and mobility issues in the political debates in almost all European countries. In fact, the ongoing negotiations between Turkey and the EU on visa liberalisation became ammunition for the “Leave” camp. While for some this increases the need to compromise with Turkey to avoid the collapse of the refugee deal signed in March 2016, for others it may sound as an additional argument to delay the visa liberalisation with Turkey. Finally, the discussions on a new model of partnership without membership between the UK and the EU will naturally affect the discussions on the future of the accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey. Let’s be ready to discuss whether such model could be attractive for Turkey or not.
A more recent and abrupt turn of events was the coup attempt that took place on 15 July 2016 in Turkey.
Luckily it failed and the Turkish society and its institutions were able to defeat the putschists. Ideally, a democratic victory should be bringing Turkey and the EU closer, reminding everyone that becoming anchored to the EU integration project is a way of consolidating democratisation. This does not seem to be the case. Many in Turkey felt that the European and Western immediate response was too slow or too ambiguous. Simultaneously, EU institutions and media consider that some of the measures undertaken since the coup attempt are disproportionate and even counterproductive. The risks of a train clash are evident to everyone: Turkey is economically anchored to the EU and the EU feels that without Turkey’s cooperation it would not be able to cope with the refugee crisis. This awareness may prevent conflict to escalate, but the perception gap is widening and trust is missing. The decisions that both actors will take but also the gestures that they will project will test the resilience of this relationship and set the tone for the years to come.
Turkey and the EU are in an impasse. Three lessons are to be learnt from the events that took place in the last weeks. A project such as FEUTURE can help in bridging those perception gaps or at least at making sense of them. We also need to make an effort in anticipating the consequences of some events that are already on the agenda. And to mention few of them, this implies discussing which could be the effects for EU-Turkey relations of the upcoming elections in the US, in France and Germany. Finally, we have to be ready to adapt our analysis to unforeseeable events. Grasping the politics of EU-Turkey relations is becoming an increasingly challenging and critical task for our project.
Eduard Soler i Lecha, Senior research fellow, CIDOB and leader of FEUTURE Work Package 2 “Political Drivers”.
Newsletter No.2 – October 2016
PRESENTATION OF WP 2
by Eduard Soler i Lecha, Leader of WP2
The goal of WP2 is to identify key political drivers in EU-Turkey relations. This Work Package will be developed in close cooperation with WP4 on security drivers, led by EDAM. A multilevel approach will be used: drivers from Turkey, from the EU, from their shared neighbourhood and at the global level will be analysed. The WP will identify the circumstances under which political changes in all those levels have shaped EU-Turkey relations, and could continue to do so in the future. The aim is to explore which political drivers are likely to lead to the realisation of one of the three ideal-type scenarios: conflict, cooperation or convergence in EU-Turkey relations.
FEUTURE Kick-Off Conference, Istanbul, 26-27 May 2016
On 26-27 May, about a hundred participants (researchers from the consortium, distinguished Turkey experts, stakeholders and practitioners from Turkey, the European Union (EU) and the neighbourhood, as well as students and the wider interested public got together at the FEUTURE Kick-Off Conference in Istanbul. This event was hosted by Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi. Read More
Briefing with the Turkish Ambassador in Spain, Ömer Önhon, Barcelona, 6 September 2016
On 6 September 2016, CIDOB hosted the Turkish ambassador in Spain, Ömer Önhon, to discuss the recent political developments in Turkey in light of the failed coup attempt on the 15th of July. Throughout the briefing, debates centred upon the domestic and international implications of the coup attempt and the post-coup measures, ongoing tensions with European and Transatlantic allies as well as understanding strategy in Syria.
Joint WP 6-7 Meeting, Athens, 23 September 2016
On 23 September the first joint workshop of WP6 "Migration Drivers" and WP7 "Identity and Culture Drivers" was held in Athens, Greece. Hosted by ELIAMEP in cooperation with Koç University, the workshop sought to identify commonalities and shared issues of research between the two Work Packages. Partners participating discussed their respective tasks and methodological approach, enabling also an exchange of information and ideas between the two teams.
Joint WP 3-5 Meeting, Ankara, 26-27 September 2016
On 26 and 27 September TEKPOL and CES from Middle East Technical University (METU) organised and hosted the joint workshop of the FEUTURE Work Packages "Economic Drivers) (WP 3) and "Energy and Climate Drivers" (WP 5) at METU, Ankara.
Upcoming Joint WP 2-4 Meeting in Istanbul, 3-4 November 2016
On 3-4 November, Work Package 2: Political Drivers and Work Package 4: Security Drivers will have their first joint workshop, hosted in Istanbul. All partners involved in the work packages will provide their expertise in the sessions.
The workshop will commence by a discussion of the
scenarios (from political and security perspectives) and guideline papers, followed by a working dinner.
The second day of the workshop will aim for an in-depth analysis of each focal issue within each work package, with a particular emphasis on research structure. The workshop, which seeks to find answers to fundamental methodological and contextual questions and explore synergies and inter-linkages between political and security drivers, will conclude by summarizing the discussions and identifying the action points for moving forward.