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Session Overview
Panel 406: European Union-Turkey Relations in Times of Crisis - Actors, Perceptions and Discourses
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Dimitris Bouris, University of Amsterdam
Location: Room 12.08

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European Union-Turkey Relations in Times of Crisis - Actors, Perceptions and Discourses

Chair(s): Dimitris Bouris (University of Amsterdam)

Discussant(s): Dimitris Bouris (University of Amsterdam)

Following the 1999 Helsinki decision to Turkey’s candidacy for European Union (EU) membership, the EU’s ‘transformative power’ was praised as the most successful instrument of political, social and economic transformation in Turkey. Two decades later, initial optimism has given way to growing concerns over backsliding, disengagement and de-Europeanisation in Turkey. So far, scholars of EU affairs have extensively been studied Europeanisation of Turkey by focusing on the domestic impact of the EU on polity, politics and policies in Turkey. Less scholarly attention has been devoted to the analysis of EU-Turkey relations in the periods of crisis, where different actors have moved away from the EU and policies and discourses have replaced by alternative discourses in domestic politics.

The proposed panel will explore the politics of crisis, focusing especially on the diverse aspects of the crisis, locate them in their contexts and highlight their implications for the EU-Turkey relations. We contend that crisis in EU-Turkey relations induced changes in policies, perceptions and discourses, but patterns and manifestations of the crisis differ substantially across cases. The panel will present papers that discuss how civil society response crisis, disenchantment in Turkish and European parliamentarians’ discourses, how the EU has been studied in Turkish academia concentrating on gendered division of labour, and, finally, shift from de-Europeanisation to anti-Westernism in Turkish foreign policy. Bringing together critical approaches with conventional EU studies research, the panel aims to extend both our theoretical and empirical understanding of crisis politics in EU-Turkey relations.


Presentations of the Symposium


European Union and Changing Political Opportunities: The Case of Women’s NGOs in Turkey

Büke Boşnak
İstanbul Bilgi University

Over the past decade there has been an extensive academic debate on the influence of the European Union (EU) on civil society organizations (CSOs) in the candidate countries. Yet, despite this burgeoning literature, few in-depth empirical analyses have tracked the relationship between the EU and CSOs over a long time period. In this paper I examine mobilization of women’s NGOs and their responses to changing political opportunities in the context of deteriorating Turkey-EU relations. Utilizing social movement theory and policy literature on shrinking space, I explore how women’s NGOs in Turkey have responded to the changes of opportunities over a long time period. The methodology consists of in-depth interviews with national women’s NGOs in Turkey. The findings demonstrate that women’s NGOs have used adaptation as a strategy over time in response to shifts in aspects of the political opportunity structure. Civil society, focusing on women's NGOs is an illustrative case for examining the nature, potential and limits of the EU influence in times of crisis.


From Rapproachment to Disenchantment: Constructing Discourses on Turkey-EU Relations in Turkish and European Parliaments

Başak Alpan1, Seda Gürkan2
1Middle East Technical University, 2Université libre de Bruxelles

This paper aims to analyse and interpret discourses on Turkish-EU relations both in the Turkish and the European Parliament within the scope of a theoretical framework that espouses Critical Discourse Analysis. The aim of the paper, thus, is to unfold the contested meanings and discourses attached to Turkey’s European integration. More specifically, the paper will analyse how parliamentarians on both sides legitimize changing patters in relations at critical junctures. The paper will focus on the one hand on the debates on Turkey’s accession process at the European Parliament, in particular the exchanges of the Members of the European Parliament at the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, and on the other hand on the discourses at the EU Harmonisation Committee of Turkish Grand National Assembly. The selected discourses are those of the Turkish and European parliamentarians, covering the eight legislative term of the European Parliament (2014-2019), a period which is also marked by a disenchantment on both sides and Turkey’s accelerated distancing from the EU. By gathering a broad spectrum of voices of those involved in Turkey’s European integration at a parliamentary level, the article contributes to the vast literature on Turkey-EU relations as very little is known how legislators view these relations and legitimize disengagement despite the importance of legislators as mass representatives.


From De-Europeanization to Anti-Westernism: Turkish Foreign Policy in Swing

Alper Kaliber
Altınbaş Universit

Turkish foreign policy (TFP) has been subject to dramatic changes under the subsequent Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments which are in power since 2002. This change first manifested itself as regionalization whereby security interest definitions and threat perceptions have gained an increasingly regional character in Turkey, and Turkey has increasingly defined itself as an activist regional power. The region-focused activism in the first decade of the AKP governments drew on the construction of a particular foreign policy identity defining the country as a peace-promoting ‘soft power’ in its surrounding regions, namely the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. This era has been characterised by the increasing engagement in the Middle East, a steady de-Europeanization of TFP and problematization of the conventional, deep-seated Kemalist foreign policy identity. In this paper de-Europeanization is broadly defined as the loss or weakening of the impact of the EU/Europe as a normative/political context in TFP. This study argues that in the process beginning with the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and particularly soon after the failed coup attempt in 15 July 2016, TFP has largely been characterized by a vehement anti-Westernism replacing de- Europeanization of the former era. The current article examines the foreign policy discourse securitizing the West as an unfriendly/inimical power threatening the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with a particular emphasis on its implications in both Turkey’s domestic politics and in Turkey-European Union relations.


The Evolution of EU Studies in Turkey: A Gender Perspective

Ebru Turhan1, Rahime Süleymanoglu Kürüm2
1Turkish-German University, 2İstanbul Gedik University

Despite the cyclical nature of EU-Turkey relations marked with critical ups and downs in different historical conjunctures, the discipline of EU studies has attracted much attention from Turkish academic circles since Turkey applied for full membership in the then European Economic Community in 1987. Departing from the assumption that a co-constitutive relationship exists between the EU studies and the EU, in general, and EU-Turkey relations, in particular, it becomes important to understand the way the EU has been studied in Turkish academia and the diversity of academic perspectives. This paper applies a gender aware approach to the study of the evolution of EU studies in Turkey and seeks to scrutinize whether there is a gendered division of labor in the study of the EU in Turkey. To do so, the paper reviews the publications realized by male and female Turkish academics in the area of EU studies in a priori selected national and international peer-reviewed journals. The study is conducted by combining directed content analysis and critical discourse analysis. Coding categories for directed content analysis are determined by treating feminist theory as an underpinning rationale in constructing and interpreting global power relations and power hierarchies both within the EU as well as between the EU and Turkey

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