New Perspectives on Turkey-EU Relations

Feyza Basar

Turkey is the only pluralist secular democracy in the Islamic world and has always attached great importance to developing its relations with other European countries ever since the establishment of Turkish Republic in 1923. In 1959, shortly after the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958, Turkey made its first application to join. The ensuing negotiations resulted in the signature of the Agreement Creating an Association between the Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community (the "Ankara Agreement") on 12 September 1963. This agreement aimed at securing Turkey's full membership in the EEC through the establishment in three phases of a customs union which would serve as an instrument to bring about integration between the EEC and Turkey. However, Ankara Agreement has never been fully implemented despite the existing Customs Union between the Parties. Turkey has not been awarded the full membership status envisaged in the Ankara Agreement and it seems very unlikely that she will ever be which is very obvious from the halted negotiations years ago. Hence, Turkey's remaining in the Customs Union with the European Union does not make any sense without the prospect of full membership given that the Customs Union's sole purpose is to make the achievement of full membership in an easier and faster way. In the light of the overall developments, I would like to examine and present in this paper whether it is possible to transform the Customs Union between EU and Turkey into a partnership under EFTA along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (and the UK may be) accompanied by visa liberalisation under Schengen Agreement with a brief touch on Brexit process and what we can learn from that.

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