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Turkey’s illiberal turn 16 juillet 2014

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Policy Brief (The European Council on Foreign Relations) ECFR/108, July 2014, 8 p.

by Dimitar Bechev *

Turkey is sliding back on its democratisation path. During the conservative Justice and Development Party’s third term in power, majoritarianism has triumphed over a drive to broaden pluralism and entrench the rule of law. The concentration of power in the hands of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prevalence of the executive over the judicial branch, flawed media, and unabating polarisation in political life are all symptoms of democratic deadlock. Having turned its back on Turkey, the EU has seen its leverage plummet; Turkey itself has become selective when it comes to membership-oriented reforms.

As the country elects a new president in August, it faces a host of challenges: slowing growth and financial volatility, the peace process with the PKK, and an increasingly unstable regional environment. Though Turkey is largely in an introverted mood, those challenges underscore the significance of its foreign partners, not least the EU. The reshuffle at the top offers an opportunity for the EU and its member states to re-engage Ankara in order to prevent further drift. This brief argues that the EU needs to focus on pragmatic co-operation and open key chapters in the accession talks while making sure its policies and actions do not feed into the narratives of external threat that have gained prominence in Turkish politics.

* Dimitar Bechev is a Senior Policy Fellow and Head of ECFR’s Sofia office.

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