It is true that the recent developments in Turkey have created an atmosphere of ambiguity when it comes to the country itself. To be more specific, while the country initiated the European path in 1999 with the Helsinki European Council and created a democratization package, which had a constitutional and a reforms character, it appears that it suddenly changed “direction”.
And while the Prime Minister remains to be Mr. Tayyip Erdogan, the policy process shifted from the “Europeanization” or to the modernization as someone would put it, into radical conservatism, which fits neither the democratic values of Europe, nor the whole changes that Turkey has been going through since 1999. For example, the Gezi park protests and their outcome, the media censorship as well as the Internet censorship and the anti-demonstration measures that were initiated not long ago have created a strong reaction from the Turkish people, that leads the country into disarray and dismantlement, as well as a strong sense of condemnation from the part of the European Union.
Despite the fact that the accession process and the negotiations between Turkey and the European Union found their way back on the table, the relationship between the two has been deeply affected, but it seems that the one is in need for the other. On the one hand, the European crisis makes Turkey a necessary way “out” of it for the leaders of Europe, since Turkey is a country that has a geostrategic position and is considered to be a strong power in the region. On the other hand, Turkey is in grave need of Europe at the moment, financially wise: The country has managed under the leadership of Tayyip Erdogan to successfully isolate itself and to follow policies that are not acceptable in the Islamic world that surrounds Turkey and which surely are not welcome within the European Union and its’ democratic values.
Apparently, what the country is in need of right now, is a way to head to reach a decent financial status, which at the moment the Turkish citizens are being deprived of due to the political instability in the country and to the isolationism policy that Erdogan chose to put his country into: the Turkish lira (TL) has lost a great part of its value, while the economy is at the moment crippled. The most obvious solution to this problem is opening up to foreign markets which can only be achieved at the moment through accession talks with the EU.
All in all, one could say that the political instability is keeping Turkey outside the European Union. And that is absolutely true. It would not be unrealistic though to believe that by restarting the negotiation process the country can finally implement measures that will bring about democracy and will benefit both the Turkish people, as well as the EU. It can only be certain that opening up the markets of Turkey towards the West can at the moment save the country from the decay that it has been going through.
The above article is submitted for the purposes of the Global Politics Summer School 2014, in Turkey.