On December 15 and 16, the Council hosted a two-day workshop featuring top US, European and Turkish experts, including, among others: Jean Christophe Filori of the European Commission; Osman Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish Ambassador to the United States; and Robert Wexler, former US Member of Congress and President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. 

Discussants took part in a spirited dialogue on Turkey’s stalled EU accession bid, and its impact on Turkey’s relations with the EU and the United States. The sessions explored Turkey’s economic and foreign policy ascendance in the Black Sea region and the Middle East, as well as its ongoing role as a strategic NATO ally. Workshop participants sought to derive recommendations for policy makers to unlock Turkey-EU relations and move forward on a positive agenda for Turkey- US-EU cooperation in the region and around the world. 

Participants also took part in a working dinner hosted by the Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan, with keynote remarks by Turkey’s Minister of Development Cevdet Yilmaz


These writings describe the main findings from the workshop.


Turkish Accession to the EU: Current Status and Prospects

Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and has been an associate member of the EU since 1963. The European Union finally recognized Turkey as a candidate for full membership in December 1999; however negotiations, which began in 2005, have since stalled. Turkish leaders continue to maintain that accession is their eventual goal, though neither side can now view Turkish membership as a foregone conclusion. This session will examine where Turkey’s candidacy currently stands and seek to answer the question: is an EU-Turkish “train wreck” in the making, as some experts have predicted?

Moderator: Fran Burwell, Atlantic Council

Participants: Jean-Christophe Filori, European Commission; John Sitilides, Trilogy Advisors LLC; İlter Turan, Istanbul Bilgi University

Turkish Domestic Policy: A Path to Future Reform?

The prospect of joining the European Union has led the Turkish government to undertake many key reforms. But after the AKP government made significant progress early in its tenure, the Turkish reform agenda seems to have stalled. Recent European Commission reports have been critical of the Turkish status quo in several areas, including treatment of the media, judicial reform, treatment of minorities, etc. Which areas remain of concern to the EU, and is Turkey likely to undertake reforms in the near future? What incentives does the Turkish government have for pursuing further reforms, and how does the reform process play into domestic politics?

Moderator: Zeynep Dereli, Atlantic Council 

Participants: Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, Former Turkish Ambassador to United States; Doğu Ergil, Ankara University; Henri Barkey, Lehigh University; Hakan Taşçı, TUSKON

Turkey and its Neighbors: Rekindled Diplomacy in the Black Sea Region

This session examined Turkey’s relations with its neighbors in the Western Balkans and the former Soviet Union, including Russia. How has renewed Turkish diplomacy in the Western Balkans impacted developments in Bosnia, as well as relations with Serbia and other countries in the region? Is Turkey viewed as an “honest broker?” How does EU accession in the Western Balkans impact Turkey’s relations with the EU? What opportunities exist for further energy and economic cooperation between Turkey and its neighbors in the Caucasus and the greater Black Sea region? How does this play into the EU’s efforts to strengthen energy security through diversification? How does Russia view Turkey’s ambitions in the region? 

Moderator: Ross Wilson, Atlantic Council

Participants: Steve Blank, US Army War College; Ron Linden, University of Pittsburgh; Ariel Cohen, The Heritage Foundation; Janusz Bugajski, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Europe and Turkey: Together in the Middle East and North Africa?

In the last few years, Turkey has sought to play a larger role in the wider Middle East region, in connection with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s policy of “zero-problems” with the neighbors. The changing political situation throughout the Middle East and in North Africa may offer opportunities for a more active Turkish role in the region than has been the case traditionally, especially as some look to Turkey as a majority-Muslim country with an established democracy. Will these changes also offer opportunities for greater cooperation between Turkey and the EU and its member states? The EU has huge interests in North Africa especially and has already promised considerable assistance to those countries that seek to transition to democracy. Do Europe and Turkey share the same vision for the region? Can they find ways to cooperate in encouraging reform and ameliorating the tensions that will arise as the region goes through these changes? To what extent will any EU-Turkish cooperation extend to future US efforts in the region? 

Moderator: Michele Dunne, Atlantic Council

Participants: Robert Wexler, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace; Dorothee Schmid, Institut Français des Relations Internationales; Gönül Tol, Middle East Institute; Alan Makovsky, House Foreign Affairs Committee       

Turkey as an Ally and Foreign Policy Partner

No matter what happens with Turkey’s EU accession bid, Turkey will presumably remain a key ally within NATO. Turkish tensions with the EU have already had an impact on potential NATO-EU cooperation; can that be expected to continue in the future? Among the allies, Turkey is one of those most likely to be affected by regional WMD proliferation or the development and deployment of missile defense systems. Will these be points of contention within the Alliance and in Europe-Turkey relations, or will they bring them closer together? Similarly, what will be the impact of Turkey’s ambitions as an “energy hub” on European energy security, and is this likely to bring them closer together or drive them farther apart? What could be the consequences of Turkish-Cypriot tensions over potential oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean?

Moderator: Ross Wilson, Atlantic Council

Participants: Stephen Larrabee, RAND; Greg Saunders, BP; Robert Finn, Princeton University

Together or Apart? The New Strategic Turkish-EU Balance

According to the negotiating framework adopted for Turkey at the beginning of EU accession negotiations in 2005, negotiations remain “an open process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand.” With Turkish membership in the EU still very much up in the air, both sides should finally decide what is at stake in Turkey joining, or not joining the EU. Can this discussion about membership be placed in a broader strategic context? Or does the fate of the membership discussions determine the entirety of the Turkish-EU partnership? What would be the consequences for the Euro-Turkish relationship if Turkey is rejected by the EU, or decides to rescind its candidacy?   This session will attempt to look ahead and identify the ramifications for Turkey and the EU once Turkey’s future position has been determined.  

Moderator: Zeynep Dereli, Atlantic Council 

Participants: Sinan Ülgen, Centre for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies; Annette Heuser, Bertelsmann Foundation; Fran Burwell, Atlantic Council 

Open Discussion: Implications for the United States

During this final session, we examined the potential impact of these changes in Turkey-EU relations on US relations with both Turkey and the EU, as well as key member states. How might a breakdown in Turkey’s accession to the EU affect US interests, and how might Turkey’s successful accession also affect the US? What role, if any, can the United States play in building a stronger EU-Turkey partnership? 

Moderator: Rick Burt, McLarty Associates 

This workshop is generously sponsored by the US Army War College and the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University. 

Related Experts: Ross Wilson