Impact of EU Political Conditionality Toward Democratic Consolidation in Turkey Post-Helsinki Summit 
I want to continue our discussion about the 'Impact of EU Political Conditionality Toward Democratic Consolidation in Turkey Post-Helsinki Summit'. But first of all, I want to emphasize that this research was based on several literature. The first most influential work that inspired my research was (obviously) Ali Resul Usul's book entitled 'Democracy in Turkey : The Impact of EU Political Conditionality (2011)'. It is one of the most interesting yet helpful book I have ever read about Democratic Consolidation in Turkey. Statistically, the book itself contribute up to 48,38% data in my research. I really suggest you to read his opus. The second book was Geoffrey Pridham's book. 'Designing Democracy : EU Enlargement and Regime Change in Post-Communist Europe (2005)' was able to present a very clear explanation of how EU's policy were made and shifts through some period of time, particularly toward the post-communist nations. At least, these two books have helped me to finish my research.
(Euronews the Network : Turkey's EU Membership Ambitions)
Now, back to our main topic, first of all we have to further explore what is European Union Political Conditionality. This is Variable One (V1)
The emphasis on the relation between membership and the necessity for each member state to be governed democratically originated with The Birkelbach Report, published in 1962 by the political committee of the European Parliament. It specified the conditions for eventual membership:
“Only states which guarantee on their territories truly democratic practices and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms can become members of our unity. States whose governments do not have democratic legitimation and whose people do not participate in government decisions, either directly or through fully elected representatives, cannot aspire to be admitted into the circle of nations which form the European Communities”.
Since the publication of this report, the EU has managed to gradually construct a well-functioning conditionality mechanism through which it has succeeded in exerting great influence on the transformation of political regimes in applicant states. In fact, by learning more from its experiences at each stage of accession, the EU has succeeded in improving and thightening its bureaucratic structure that deal with the enlargements and norms as well as the rules and practices that applicant states must comply with in order to become full members.
On Southern European cases, the EU conditionality had not really developed beyond a declaration of principle. In these cases, the EU adopted non-strict formal terms of conditionality that included the holding of free and fair elections and possession of a constitution. Furthermore, there was no formal monitoring of candidates during Southern European enlargement. These period occured from early 1960s until late 1970s. On the other hand, the EU’s relations with the Central and Eastern European Countries in respect of democracy are often considered as another, even stronger, example of how EU conditionality assists in constructing new democracies. When analyzing the nature and operation of the EU conditionality that was applied to the Central and Eastern European Countries, the EU’s understanding of democracy has moved from one that is mainly procedural to one that is more substantive. When looking at the progress reports that are penned in accordance with the Copenhagen Criteria, it seems that EU not only monitors minimal requirements of democracy (the existence of free elections, democratic constitutions, etc.), but also screens the issues that are commonly regarded as elements of ‘substantive democracy’, such as women’s rights, minority rights, labour rights, and problems of corruption.
The EU has performed as a gatekeeper that controls all stages of the accession process, and allows candidates to proceed to further stages of the accession process, and allows candidates to proceed to further stages of the accession or prevents a candidate from passing to another stage in the process of accession. There are now generally seven stages in the process:
1. Privileged trade access and European assistance;
2. Signing an enhanced Association Agreement;
3. Recognition of an official candidate status;
4. Opening of accession negotiations;
5. Opening and closing of the chapters in negotiations;
6. Signing of an accession treaty;
7. Ratification of the accession treaty by national parliaments, the European Parliament, and possible referendum in some countries.
After we discover the structure and functions inside the EU Political Conditionality, shall we turn our attention to the relevant period appointed in this research. The Helsinki Summit. As we all know, one of the prominent agenda for sustaining EU's role in the international relations is EU Council Meeting, or we further address it as 'Summit'. The meetings of the EU, comprising heads of state or government of EU member states. They started in 1975 as tri-annual meetings, but now take place at least four times a year and, in recent years, usually six times, either for a single day or two. One of those took place in Helsinki, Finland. This is Variable Two (V2)
The 1999 Helsinki Council decided to launch accession negotiations with Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Malta. Furthermore, the Council approved the Commission’s recommendation that Turkey was raised to non-negotiating candidate status from that of potential candidate/pre-candidate status. The Helsinki decisions reinforced the monitoring mechanism and accession criteria, and the process of enlargement became more systematized.
The conclusion of the European Council in Helsinki also represented a significant turning point in EU-Turkish relations. It would not be an exaggeration to argue that decisions taken at the Helsinki Summit led to a paradigmatic change in relations because the EU for the first time clearly stated that Turkey could be an EU member if it complied with the Copenhagen Criteria. That statement fostered Turkish domestic reactions as well.
Most Turks, from the right to the left, welcomed the decision. Thus the political criteria the EU demanded of Turkey have become important discussion points at both elite and popular levels. Both the political and state elite, who support Turkey’s accession to the EU, and the Turkish populace as a whole started increasingly to refer to the EU entrance criteria when they endeavoured to substantiate their arguments for further democratization. Thus, it would be quite meaningful to assert that the Union gained the potential to perform as a real lever for Turkey’s further democratization when it recognized Turkey’s candidacy in Helsinki.
Now, after we comprehend the V1 and V2, we could discuss about Post-Helsinki EU Conditionalities toward Turkey.
(Article by Cameron Deggin, showing the benefits if Turkey could join EU : http://www.propertyturkey.com/blog-turkey/turkey-benefits-of-eu-membership)
As mentioned before, conditionality refers to a foreign policy tool aimed to promote democracy and respect for human rights through the attachment of these ideals. So, in this case study, the conditionalities were given by the European Union –European Commission to be more precise, toward the government of Turkey and European Union. The form of these conditionalities were progress report, consisting the report of Turkish democratic institutions, mechanisms, and other related issues with European values.
The first European Commission progress report on Turkey after the Helsinki Summit was published on 8 November 2000 Strategy Paper. The report consisted of various criticisms of the Turkish political regime from the perspectives of democracy and human rights. Therefore the Commision continued to argue that democratic control over the military should be increased, and the regime needed to become more ‘civilized’. The dominance of military members on the National Security Council (NSC) and its political aspect were cited as matters of concern. The over-centralization of the administrative structure was another reason of discomfort. Regarding the judicial system, the European Commission indicated that the existence of the State Security Courts (SSC) was inconsistent with European norms, and the European Court of Human Right’s decision should be incorporated into the Turkish judicial system rapidly.
The 2001 Regular Report emphasized that constitutional amendments were vital for Turkey’s democratization, but stated that ‘compared to last year, the situation on the ground has hardly improved and Turkey still does not meet the Copenhagen Criteria’. Although the report accepted that the recent constitutional amendment was a significant step towards strengthening guarantees in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms and limiting capital punishment, it also asserted that a number of restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms remained. It also highlighted that the details of implementing legislation and the practical application of the amendments were more important.
Contrary to the expectations of the Turkish government, the 2002 Regular Report did not provide Turkey with a clear timetable for the starting of accession talks. Although the coalition governmen had fulfilled a number of constitutional and legal amendments to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria, the 2002 progress report was again full of critiques of Turkey. The report underlined that there had been few signs of increased civilian control over the military. Concerning the judicial system, the Commission thought that the SSC’s needed to be brought into line with European standards. The report also criticized the fact that no progress had been recorded regarding the establishment of intermediate courts of appeal and there remained a number of inconsistencies in the judicial system. The Commission also criticized trials of civilians in military courts. Furthermore, it expressed the EU’s concern regarding the extent of the independence of the judiciary and problems with the juvenile courts.
The Brussels European Council meeting in June 2004 reaffirmed the decision of the Copenhagen Council that on the basis of a report and recommendation from the Commission that Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria; the EU will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay. The report itself concluded that Turkey had achieved various significant reforms in its efforts to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria.
The next Progress Report, which was issued on 9 November 2005, was the first report to evaluate Turkey’s political regime since the EU had decided that Turkey had successfully complied with the necessary political criteria and since accession negotiations had started on 3 October 2005. As mentioned above, the Commission had given a green light to Turkey’s EU bid and the leaders declared that Turkey was sufficiently democratic for accession negotiations to begin.
The ninth Progress Report, contains the Commission’s criticism of Turkey in terms of democracy and the rule of law included once more the 10% participatory threshold for parties at national level, the broad definition of terrorism included in the new Anti-Terror Law, and further administrative reforms in particular in the arena of decentralization. Regarding civil-military relations, the report argued that the Turkish military had continued to exercise significant political influence on domestic and foreign policy. As for the judicial system, the report underlined the inconsistency in the judiciary’s approach to the interpretation of legislation. Furthermore, the Commission argued that a number of factors undermined the independence of the judiciary. The Commission also emphasized that corruption remained widespread in the public sector and judiciary.
When the Helsinki Summit declared Turkey as a candidate for EU membership, and included it in the general framework for the enlargement of the EU, Turkey for the first time was provided with a real impetus to become democratic and improve its human rights record in its fullest sense, to meet the Copenhagen Criteria and thus to enter the EU club. The EU’s pledge that if Turkey could satisfy the Copenhagen Criteria, the Union would accept Turkey as a full member acted as an active leverage for Turkey’s further democratizatoin albeit in a limited manner.
First, the 2001 constitutional amendments. A parliamentary committee, formed to prepare a draft bill for amendments to the constitution in compliance with the EU criteria, announced on 23 May 2001 that it had reached a preliminary consensus to amend 51 articles. Later, it was understood that the inter-party parliamentary reconciliation committee had reached consensus on the amendment of some 37 articles, not 51, of the constitution. The inter-party parliamentary reconciliation committee released the draft on 14 June 2001. The draft with its 37 articles was submitted to the parliament on 6 September 2001. The President approved 33 articles of the package on 15 October 2001 and the law came into force on 27 Oktober 2001. The amendments included the introduction of equality for men and women, an increase in the number of civilian members on the National Security Council (NSC), and some welcome steps towards an improvement of human rights in Turkey. These included the reducing of detention periods, the abolition of the death penalty for criminal offences, the introduction into the constitution of the right to a fair trial, and the lifting of the ban on statements and publications in Kurdish.
Second political reform was the mini-democratization package introduced by the Democratic Left Party (DSP)-National Action Party (MHP)-Motherland Party (ANAP) coalition partners on 15 January 2002. Accordingly, Article 312 and Article 159 would be amended. Basically, the existing Article 159 was left unchanged in terms of its content. On the other hand, the amended Article 312 is to be used to punish those who ‘incite people to hatred and enmity on the basis of religious, ethnic, and class differences in a way to endanger the public order’ instead of the draft text that says ‘the possibility of danger’. Furthermore, fines stipulated for the offences under the first and second paragraphs of 312 were abolished. The second harmonization package itself was submitted on 4 March 2002 and adopted on 26 March. As a result of the amendment of Articles of the Law on the Organization, Duties and Powers of the Gendarmerie, military officers were no longer entitled to act in provincial administrations as deputies for sub-governors in the absence of such officials. Thus, the role of civilian control in local administration was strengthened.
When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) triumphed in the 2002 general elections and forged a majority in parliament, speeding up the harmonization efforts was declared an immidiate priority in terms of both foreign policy and domestic policy. The new government’s haste in this regard could be partly explained by the upcoming Copenhagen European Council where Turkey was expecting to receive a definite date for accession talks. The so-called ‘fourth harmonization package’ was introduced to parliament on 3 December 2002, adopted on 2 January 2003, and came into force on 11 January 2003. Consisting of 16 articles, mostly dealt with the struggle against torture, the closure of political parties, the rights of non-Muslim communities in Turkey within the sphere of the Lausanne Treaty and associational freedoms.
On 23 July 2003, the seventh reform package was submitted to parliament. The package realized new democratic openings dealing with several codes and laws including the Turkish Penal Code, the Code on Associations, the NSC, the Law on Assembly and Demonstration, the Law of Foundations, the Anti-Terror Law, and the Civil Code. One of the most important reforms in the package concerned the further elimination of the military from politics through redefining and restructuring the NCS. Thus, as for further civilization of the regime, Article 4 of the Law on the NSC and the General Secretariat of the NSC were amended to revise the duties and competences of the NSC. Articles 9 and 14 of the law were repealed and Article 13 was amended. Thus, the consultative nature of the body was more greatly emphasized.
After several packages, the government was able to realize a constitutional amendment in May 2004. Thus, the death penalty was totally eliminated from Turkish jurisdiction with all exceptions including the cases of war and the imminent threat of war, thereby removing the constitutional obstacle to the ratification of the 13th additional protocol of the ECHR that Turkey had already signed in January 2004.
There were some important achievements from the 2004 constitutional amendment. The SSC were abolished. Jurisdiction over the crimes falling within competence of the SSC was transferred to the newly created Regional Serious Felony Courts. The new constitutional amendment on the freedom of the press also stipulated that printing presses and their annexes should not be seized, confiscated, or barred from operation on the grounds of being an instrument of crime. Through the amendment, the supremacy of international jurisdiction was also recognized. Previously, Article 90 of the constitution had stipulated that international agreements that were duly put into effect should have the same value as domestic laws. With this reform, a much more effective application of the European Convention of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments by Turkish courts will be ensured.
Besides the political and legal reform conducted after the Helsinki Summit, Turkey has established human rights organizatoins in the state apparatus. The number and influence of these organizations has been steadily increasing since the 1999 Helsinki decision. A government decree with power of law concerning the establishment of the Human Rights Department attached to the Prime Ministry was approved in the Official Journal on 5 October 2000 to maintain contact with all bodies and institutions working in the field of human rights and to coordinate their activities, and the Human Rights Presidency in Ankara, which is in charge of monitoring the implementation of legislation in the area of human rights, was created in April 2001. Furthermore, an additional body, the Human Rights Advisory Board was also established. There are currently Human Rights Boards in 81 provinces and almost all big sub-provinces. Every provincial and sub-provincial board has an application desk, and should evaluate all applications and ensure appropriate follow-up. The Ministry of the Interior also established a Human Rights Investigation Office in February 2004 whose functions include the inspectoin of police statios. Similarly, the gendarmerie’s Human Rights Violations Investigation and Assessment Centre began functioning in August 2004.
These reforms and initiatives were relevant with the democratic consolidation theory that already been mentioned above. Whereas, the agenda for a viable democracy includes drafting, revising, and ratifying a new democratic constitution; ensuring the rule of law and establishing democratic representative, legislative, and executive institutions; eliminating all human rights violations, and all kinds of discrimination; abolishing all ‘tutelary powers’ and ‘reserved domains’; formation of an autonomous and robust political and civil society; and ensuring a reasonably fair electoral system.
As for the conclusion,The formal framework created in the post-Helsinki period increased the influence of the EU over Turkey’s political regime. The seceral Progress Reports established a formal framework for these relations, and what might be described as a blueprint was drawn up by the EU to enable Turkey to become an EU member. The keyword in this regard was European conditionality. The governing elites of Turkey generally responded positively to the EU’s conditionalities and substantial legal amendments were performed during this time. The most significant ones are total elimination of death penalty, abolishment of the SSC, establishment of Human Rights institutions, and the transformation of the NSC into a civilian and advisery body and elimination of its executive power.