This article analyses the extent to which the rise of political Islam (Note 1) in Turkey has triggered an intense and polarized debate about the principle eligibility of Turkey to be a full European Union (EU) member state. The Justice and Development Party’s (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi-AKP) election victories in 2002 and 2007 have been considered to be a serious obstacle to Turkish EU accession. This article argues that even if the AKP government were able to meet the objective criteria of the EU acquis, European opposition to Turkish accession would persist for two main reasons: (1) The overall political targets of political Islam in Turkey seems less compatible with the traditional Turkish EU quest than formerly (2) The Turkish political Islamic turnaround is contributing to a climate of increasing scepticism in Europe, and presents significant obstacles to EU accession. As a result, ‘privileged partnership’ seems to represent a new pragmatic synthesis of Realpolitik that both Ankara and Brussels should reconsider.
- foreign policy