Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

Turkey's Accession to the European Union: The Politics of Exclusion?

Academic journal article International Journal of Turkish Studies

Turkey's Accession to the European Union: The Politics of Exclusion?

Article excerpt

EDEL HUGHES, Turkey's Accession to the European Union: The Politics of Exclusion? (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011), Pp. 215, $ 145.00 cloth

In all the fuss that has surrounded the on-going crisis in the euro zone, it is often easy to forget that there are many other and older items of unfinished business on the agenda of European integration. Prime among those is enlargement, regarded by some as one of the European Union's more successful ventures (in the sense that it has helped expand the reach of democratic and free-market change) but regarded by many others with considerable doubt; how, they ask, can the EU afford to expand when it has so many other institutional and policy problems to deal with at home?

Heading the list of controversial questions within the wider issue of enlargement is the troubling matter of Turkey's prospects as a future member of the EU. Turkey's aspirations to gain better access to the European marketplace date back to the late 1950s; it signed an Association Agreement with the European Economic Community in 1963: it formally applied for membership of the European Community in 1987, and it was finally accepted as a candidate country in 1999, although accession negotiations did not begin until 2004 and have since run into trouble. This is undoubtedly the longest and most convoluted story in the saga of enlargement, and no prospective member of the EU has been kept waiting for so long or regarded with such mixed feelings.

In this valuable new book, Edel Hughes (currently Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Social Sciences at the University of East London) assesses that story in detail, focusing on the problem of a "compatibility crisis" between the two actors. The book opens with a chapter on the history of Turkey's path to accession, with particular reference to the complications arising from the Kurdish question. The second and third chapters look in turn at what are conventionally described as the two most serious obstacles to Turkish membership of the EU: the troublesome question of human rights in Turkey (and the carrot-stick approach that the EU has used in order to encourage reform), and the effects of the failure of any party to make much headway on the Cyprus question.

Chapter 4 looks at the role of Islam in the debate; while this is rarely formally quoted in political discussions about Turkey's aspirations to EU membership, it is clearly the deciding factor for many Europeans. …

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