RECON Online Working Paper 2011/20

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The European Union and Turkey

Democracy, Multiculturalism and European Identity


Meltem Müftüler-Baç (Sabancı University, Istanbul)



In international relations the European Union has emerged as a new form of polity increasingly characterized by a unique mix of state-like attributes and intergovernmental organization traits. At the same time, it seems to be increasingly characterized by multiculturalism, which in its essence is a highly contested term. It is here proposed that the question of how to define ‘Europe’ has emerged as a critical point of scientific inquiry in an analysis of Turkey’s accession to the European Union, playing an equal role to the Turkish ability to meet the EU’s accession criteria. This paper analyzes how Turkish accession to the EU could help the EU to tackle the challenges of multiculturalism and democracy. It analyzes the influence of multiculturalism on Turkey’s accession and addresses the challenges arising from multiculturalism. Because the Turkish accession to the EU goes beyond a relatively simple analysis of the Turkish ability to meet the accession criteria, the EU’s uniqueness and the emerging European identity need to be taken into account when assessing this process. The paper rests largely on a normative argumentation and addresses the twin challenges of democracy and multiculturalism to the EU through the prism of the Turkish accession process.



Democracy ― Enlargement ― European Identity ― European Union ― Multiculturalism ― Turkish Accession


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