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Euroscepticism in Turkey

Power and Beyond

Can Büyükbay

This book examines the construction of Euroscepticism in civil society discourse, focusing on Turkey’s possible EU-membership, the ongoing political struggles between different political camps in Turkey and general Western discourse. Applying semi-structured qualitative interviews with Civil Society Organisation leaders and Critical Discourse Analysis, the study shows how civil society leaders evaluate Europe and the European Integration of Turkey. It appears that there are multiple Eurosceptical argumentation strategies in the discourses varying according to ideological background and pro-government and anti-government positioning.
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1. Introduction


Turkey’s relationship with the European Union (EU) has a long history that reaches back to their application for associate membership in the European Economic Community (EEC) in July 1959 and the resulting Ankara Agreement in 1963. Accordingly, Turkey has been part of the European integration project from the very beginning of the process. Nevertheless, the process has been fiercely contested and slow, so that Turkey was only recognised by the EU as a candidate country at the Helsinki Summit on 11 December 1999.1 The recognition of Turkey’s candidacy at the Helsinki Summit and the beginning of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005 constitute important turning points for Turkey’s relations with the EU. EU membership has become a reality for the Turkish public and elites, and is seen as a means to further national democratisation, modernisation and economic development. These turning points accelerated both the socio-political transformation guided by the Copenhagen Criteria and also created critical attitudes towards the EU and European integration. Accordingly, the accession process has engendered both enthusiasm and criticism by domestic actors both at the state and civil society levels (Öniş 2003, Büyükbay 2010). Questions of loss of sovereignty, cultural and religious differences, past memories as well as the Cyprus and Armenian issues have emerged as important discussion points. The attitudes towards the EU and Europe have ranged in a continuum from happiness, consent, contentment and sober sentiments to rejection, denial and outright hatred. This is not surprising, as the Turkey-EU relationship is...

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