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Impact of EU Political Conditionality Towards Democratic Consolidation in Turkey [1]

On Sui Generis

(http://www.institutkurde.org/info/images/20080326_turkish_flag.jpg)

Turkey’s application to be registered to the European Union (EU) was made on April 14th 1987. Turkey has been an associate member of the EU since 1963. After the ten founding fathers of EU, Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and was also a founding member of the Organisastion for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961 and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1973. The country has also been an associate member of the Western European Union since 1992, and currently a part of the “Western Europe” division of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) at the United Nations. But it was only until they signed a Customs Union Agreement with the EU in 1995, Turkey was officially recognised as a candidate for full membership on December 1999, at the Helsinki summit of the European Council.

As Turkey was recognized as a candidate member of the European Union by the Helsinki European Council of 1999, a significant reform process began in the country, with the purpose of democratizing itself so as to fulfill all the necessary criteria to gain access into the alliance. Turkey has proved so far that it can be a country that combines both secular democracy and Islamic religion, despite the doubts of the European leaders on the Turkish candidacy. Europe has always considered Turkey as an ally that can satisfy all of its’ strategic goals in the Middle East region and a very important player in the region. Therefore, the need for the democratization in Turkey from the European was indespensable. On the other hand, it was of great necessity for Europe to demonstrate to its’ own people and to the rest of the world that it does not simply consist a “Christian Club”, but a society that is multicultural and positive to religious interactions within its premises.

It is important to further analyze the impact of EU conditionalities toward the democratization process in Turkey. Therefore, this article plans to analyze the democratization process in Turkey after the Helsinki European Council of 1999, the role that EU conditionality has played in it, and the current situation of democracy as a result of a shift of interests from both side.

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