A large number of issues in the context of Turkey's partnerships with the EU and US have been discussed. Although there remain many points of contention, consensus seems to exist on the following points:
- Turkey is becoming an increasingly important regional player, and an indispensible ally to the US and Europe. The US needs Turkey for its Middle East Agenda, whereas Turkey is indispensible to the EU for its energy diversification, trade as well as its Middle East agenda.
- Becoming integrated with the West has been one of the key motives driving Turkish foreign policy since the days of Ataturk (Jackson). Even after the end of the Cold War, when Ankara was presented with various foreign policy options, it continued its western alignment.
- Turkey is getting increasingly disillusioned with the EU. Turkey has made major reforms since the opening of negotiations in 2005 and feels that the EU is not living up to its end of the deal.
- Negative public opinion - caused in part by the existence of misperceptions - towards Turkey has worked as a brake on constructive collaboration (Follick), with some even speaking of a Western identity crisis (Akgün). Negative perceptions towards the US also present a key hurdle to successful collaboration between the US and Turkey.
- Due to the perceived uncertainty about the accession process reforms have slowed down and the EU is losing leverage (Avci).
- Turkey has not moved away from the West (yet) as some fear, but has diversified its foreign policy (Avci).
- The diversification of Turkey's foreign policy has served to strengthen its status as a regional powerhouse, thereby making it a potentially more important ally. At any rate, Turkey will become a more important aspect in any western foreign policy formulation in the Middle East.
We now want to take the discussion to the next level, by taking the aforementioned conclusions as the starting point of a more in-dept analysis. Although many commentators seem to question the desirability of EU membership for Turkey - considering the constraints this would impose on national sovereignty as well as its room for manoeuvre in the Middle East (Mazzucelli) - the purpose of this discussion is not to debate whether or not Turkey should join the EU, but to establish how the US and EU best approach Turkey in order to safeguard their interests in the Middle East.
Dear atlantic-community members:
How can the EU in the present situation, (given that the EU has entered the negotiation process), make sure that Turkey continues to be a constructive ally?
So far several suggestions have been made notably:
- Offering real membership prospects (Dahhan)
- Enhancing the opportunities that Turkey's multilateral foreign policy provides (Jackson)
- Establishing a strategic partnership (Rusila)
- Encouraging the establishment of a Turkish Union (Zedler)
Which suggestion or combination thereof, if any, do you consider the most appropriate? Please explain why and how the EU should go about it? If you are in favor of a strategic partnership please explain how Turkey could come to consider this a viable alternative to full membership considering its present objections to it.
How can the US maximize its strategic partnership, considering the US state department's anxiety regarding the souring of relationships with Israel, with an official recently stating that "there are now more issues of disagreement than agreement between the US and Turkey"?
Regarding the image problem there seems to be agreement that both the US and EU need to engage in extensive public diplomacy. However, so far the US has been largely unsuccessful with Obama's speech in Turkey having no significant impact on US favorability. The EU on the other hand does not have a strong record of public diplomacy and will face a hard time altering perceptions at home.
How can the US and the EU best go about changing negative perceptions? Is there any way they can work together?