In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Turkey, indicating a willingness to help Turkey revive stalled negotiations over its longstanding bid for European Union membership. In an email interview, Rana Deep Islam, a project manager with Stiftung Mercator whose research focuses on Turkey-EU relations, explained the state of Turkey’s EU accession bid and how it could move forward.
WPR: What is behind Germany’s recent statement that it will support reviving Turkey’s EU accession process?
Rana Deep Islam: The German government under Merkel still does not have a clear-cut policy on how it wants to handle Turkey’s membership aspirations. On one hand, Merkel has said repeatedly that she prefers a so-called privileged partnership over full-fledged EU membership for Turkey. On the other hand, Germany still treads the path of negotiations and has not blocked the process as, for example, France did in the past. The German government’s announcement of support for the opening of a new chapter in negotiations reflects this seeming paradox, or German bipolarity, in the Turkey-EU context. Reviving the accession talks by extending negotiations to new domains might push the process forward in the short term. But it’s still unclear what Merkel envisions more broadly for the crucial relationship between Turkey and the EU. Nor is it clear how Merkel views the accession negotiations beyond their narrow technical aspects, which deal primarily with Turkey’s administrative and bureaucratic capacity to adopt the EU’s “acquis communautaire” -- the French term the EU uses to describe the shared rights and obligations within the union.