When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime.

SUBSCRIBERS BENEFITS

Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital MagazineNEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
Geopolitics

If Erdogan Loses, Will Turkey Revive Its Bid For EU Membership?

An opposition victory in the elections would be good news for the currently disastrous relations between Ankara and the European Union. But the 27 EU members may not yet be ready to consider Turkey's integration into the EU.

Photo of former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Tayyip Erdogan at the European

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels 2015.

Vincent Collen

BRUSSELS — In the seat of the EU, and in other European capitals, leaders are eagerly awaiting the results of the Turkish presidential elections — hoping for a victory of the opposition.

Still, all remain cautious about the prospect of the end of the longtime reign of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Whether Erdogan retains power or the opposition wins, this will not radically change relations between Turkey and the European Union, at least initially," says Benjamin Couteau, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute.

A win for the opposition led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu would undoubtedly improve relations between Ankara and the EU, which have become atrocious since Erdogan's authoritarian turn.


Not dead yet

Officially, the coalition that wants to defeat the two-decade-long ruler is calling for the reopening of negotiations to enter the European Union, which started in 2005 and have been officially frozen since 2018. "Full membership in the European Union is our goal," reads the Kilicdaroglu-led program.

Most Turks no longer believe in it.

But this request was not put forward during the campaign. "Most Turks no longer believe in it," explains Couteau.

This actually suits the Europeans, who have no desire to reopen this sensitive issue. "No one considers that Turkey's membership should be put on the table again," says one French government source.

"For Europe, Turkey's membership in the European Union is not officially buried, but it is not on the agenda," adds a diplomatic adviser in another European capital. "Whoever wins, it is unlikely that we will get out of this ambiguity."

Kilicdaroglu has made a point of calling for a renegotiation of the customs union, which has linked the country to the EU since 1996, to be more favorable for Turkey. This objective will be less difficult to achieve, as long as the new government lowers tensions with the Old Continent on several fronts.

Bilateral relations with several member states are extremely tense: Greece and Cyprus (and, in turn, France, a strong ally of Athens), but also Sweden, which Turkey is still blocking from joining NATO.

Photo of Kemal Kilicdaroglu during a campaign event ahead of the 14 May general elections.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, presidential candidate from the Turkish opposition's six-party alliance.

Alp Eren Kaya/Depo/Zuma

A stronger Turkey

"We should not expect the tensions to disappear, of course, but we have the right to expect an improvement,” says the European diplomatic adviser. “We must at least try, it will be an opportunity to seize."

The EU will have to "intensify the dialogue" with Ankara and "seek to stabilize the new government" by helping it to resolve the country's serious economic problems, says Luigi Scazzieri, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.

In this scenario, the European Union could consider renegotiating the customs union, easing visa restrictions for Turks, or including Turkey in eastern Mediterranean gas projects, says a minister from a Nordic country.

The context has changed.

But even if the opposition wins on Sunday, Europeans should not expect Turkey to behave as it did before the Erdogan era, warns Scazzieri, who notes that the country is both wealthier and stronger militarily and diplomatically than it was 20 years ago. "And the context has changed," the researcher adds, "with the West no longer as dominant as it was at the turn of the century."

In other words, EU membership may no longer be as important to Ankara, concludes Scazzieri: "A successful Turkey outside the European Union is much easier to imagine than it used to be."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Geopolitics

Oslo, 30 Years Later: Where To Look When The Very Idea Of Peace Is Gone?

The signing of the Oslo Accords thirty years ago was followed by a failure that set back the very idea of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A look back at this historic episode and the lessons we can learn from it today.

Low-angle shot of a man walking through a field carrying two Palestinian flags, with smoke in the background

Is there room for a reinvented peace process between Israelis and Palestinians?

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Thirty years ago to the day, I was standing in Jerusalem's Old City, near the Jaffa Gate. Two young Palestinians were putting up a poster of Yasser Arafat when an Israeli guard appeared.

Everyone froze in fear, thinking a confrontation was about to happen. But the soldiers went on their way without a care in the world for the young Palestinians. Arafat's face appeared on a wall in Jerusalem.

A few hours later, thousands of miles away, on the White House lawn, the famous handshake took place between the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, overseen by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

They had just signed the Oslo Accords, which they hoped would put an end to a century of conflict — just like the scene of détente I had witnessed in Jerusalem.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime.

SUBSCRIBERS BENEFITS

Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital MagazineNEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The latest