Second Phase of the EU Debates at TEPAV: “What does Turkey Think?” "Turkey's Neighborhood Policy" discussed at the second day of the roundtable meeting organized to contribute to the initiative by The European Council on Foreign Relations with the theme "What does Turkey Think?".
ANKARA - The series of meeting organized by TEPAV in collaboration with Middle East Technical University Center for European Studies (METU CES) and Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Research (EDAM) with the participation of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) ended. The roundtable meetings carried out on March 2 and 3, 2011 addressed Turkey's relations with the European Union (EU) and regional policies. The debates are expected to contribute to the study conducted by the ECFR, a think-tank studying the EU, with the theme "What does Turkey Think?"
The debate series initiated at TEPAV under the theme "Turkey-EU Relations" continued on March 3, 2011 with a session on "Turkey's Neighborhood Policy". At the meeting moderated by TEPAV EU Institute Director Nilgün Arısan Eralp, Prof. Dr. Güven Sak, TEPAV Director, Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunışık of METU Department of International Relations, Faruk Loğoğlu, Former Ambassador and Member of the Assembly of Republican People's Party (CHP), and Mehmet Ratip, TEPAV Research Associate delivered speeches.
TEPAV Director Güven Sak stated that foreign policy of Turkey is closely tied to domestic policy and emphasized that large steps in the field of foreign policy cannot be expected on the eve of elections. Maintaining that still Turkey has to carry out the reformation process simultaneously with the EU accession process, Sak stressed that Turkey needs the EU in economic terms as well. He drew attention to the importance of the EU market for Turkey, which suffers from loose export growth despite strong economic growth, as well as the key role of the EU market in triggering the share of high-technology in the export composition.
Prof. Dr. Meliha Altunışık said that Turkey is a role model for the countries of the region which however preferred to choose countries similar to themselves as role models. Underlining that the culture products such as TV series have increased Turkey's popularity in the region, Altunışık added that Turkey had both active and passive role as a soft power". Referring to the diverse characteristics of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya that recently came to the fore with mass rebellions; she stated that generalizations must be avoided in assessing the movements. Altunışık went on to say that Turkey has sometimes been late in taking action in terms of foreign policy.
Criticizing the "zero-problem policy with the neighbors" adopted by the government, Former Ambassador Faruk Loğoğlu maintained that Turkey could not overcome for years the problems with many neighboring countries including Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Loğoğlu stated that it should be debated whether the "Turkey for the region" model is fruitful for Turkey.
Commenting on the support for Turkey's EU accession by political views, TEPAV Research Associate Mehmet Ratip said that the ratio of those in favor of the EU accession decreased from 64.4 percent in 2008 to 60.4 percent. He stressed that there is a fall in the level of support for EU membership among the supporters of each major political party, except the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The ratio of those in favor of the EU membership by political parties is as follows: Justice and Development Party (AKP) 68.9, Republican People's Party (CHP) 56.5 percent, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) 42.3 percent, and BDP 80.4 percent. He stressed that whereas 56.6 percent of the "concerned moderns" were in favor of the EU, the said group did not have faith in the transformative power of the EU. Mehmet Ratip also addressed some scenarios for progress in the Cyprus issue.
The meeting continued with questions and comments from the audience.