Moving Goalposts: Democratisation and EU Membership for Turkey


Over a decade ago, when the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi [Justice and Development Party]) came to power in Turkey, hopes were high in many quarters that this was the dawn of a “new” Turkey.[1] While the AKP had Islamist roots and was distrusted by many in the secular establishment, its leaders boasted that AKP stood for  “conservative democracy,” including a commitment to universal values of freedom.[2]  In the early 2000s, the AKP was also arguably the most pro-European Union (EU) of all Turkish political parties, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proclaiming that Turkey would continue with reforms to meet EU criteria and aimed to make Europe’s values “Ankara’s values.”[3]

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2 thoughts on “Moving Goalposts: Democratisation and EU Membership for Turkey

  1. B Nelson

    What a lot of nonsense!
    AKP’s intentions, right from the beginning, had had nothing to do with making Turkey more democratic. Instead by using the ballot box, it has pushed ahead with its Islamic agenda. Turkey is now a divided, an oppressed country while relying only on the religious frame of reference for its social and political agenda.
    This article fails to comment on the changing landscape of education ( non scientific and illiberal) and the judiciary (partisan and anti human rights) where the whole fabric of society and people have been guided by ignorance and religious dogma where rational enquiry and questioning are not encouraged but seen as a rebellion. The graduates of religious schools and Universities are now at the helm of government institutions, Universities and powerful medium to small industrial groups. Is it possible to expect a liberal, enlightened and a modern Turkey with this ruling power? Sooner these commentators stop passing judgement on Turkey’s progress and see the sea change in the country’s social and political fabric the better.

  2. Peter Roberts

    This is a very comprehensive analysis of the past 10 years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). It is obvious that democratisation and EU membership have been keen discourses for the AKP, and they made some progress in their first term, but the rest was all a disaster in terms of democracy and human rights protection. The writer is right about the minor steps taken, but he misses the damage done. Turkey has become a very polarized and risky society like a burning bowl, and the writer should not be tolerant about the recent policies of the AKP which failed to satisfy even the minimum democratic standards. Foreign policy, even do not mention it, everyone sees how Turkey has lost its traditional vision in foreign policy and lost its credibility in the region! Thanks.


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