chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction: An Alternative Approach to Traditional Perspectives of EU-Turkish Relations

From the very beginnings of the creation of the European Union, Turkey has shown a keen interest in the integration process in Europe and, indeed, has considered becoming a member of the EU to be a logical consequence of its modernization and Westernization policies (Eralp, 1992, 1993). Consequently, Turkey applied for associate membership in 1959 and went on to sign the Ankara Agreement with the EU in 1963, an agreement which not only recognized Turkey’s eligibility for to participate in European integration but explicitly envisaged Turkey’s eventual full membership of the EU (Aybak, 1995). EU-Turkey relations have, however, experienced serious difficulties resulting from the essential incompatibility of both parties’ policies with the declared objectives of their Association Agreement (Ugur, 1999). In particular, it seems unlikely that the ultimate objective of the Association Agreement – Turkish accession to the EU – will be achieved in the foreseeable future. On the one hand, this is because the EU has always considered Turkey to be an awkward candidate for EU membership: Turkey is different, problematic and thus, by implication, a more difficult case than any of the other applicants. The EU’s skepticism towards the prospect of Turkish membership can be seen in its policies, which have

1 The term ‘European Union’ and the abbreviation ‘EU’ is used throughout the book, also referring to the term ‘European Economic Community’ (EEC) and the term ‘European Community’ (EC).