Debates on Turkey's accession to EU: CFSP/ESDP

by Karina Oborune (Author) Ibragim Zalel (Author)

Term Paper 2009 18 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union








Dilemma for Europe, dilemma for Turkey1

The above quoted statement describes challenges of the relationship between Turkey and the EU. Nowadays this interrelation has become a cornerstone both for EU’s agenda and political discourse. There are both unique opportunities and trans-regional threats of Turkey’s membership in EU regarding Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Does Turkey bring more security to the EU and vice versa? Is Turkish potential CFSP/ESDP contribution enough to get Turkey out of the EU's hallway into its waiting room?2 Authors would like to point out that task to answer to this question was hard to implement because of need to draw hypothetical assumptions. Moreover the CFSP/ESDP is too broad too analyse, therefore authors chose one issue of CFSP and ESDP to research in details and draw main conclusions.

Theaimof this paper was to research benefit and looses from Turkey’s accession to EU regarding CFSP and ESDP. There were drawn twohypotheses: 1)from the point of view of the CFSP of the EU, Turkey’s accession brings more advantages (“security producer”) than challenges (“security consumer”);2)Turkey’s military capabilities, experience in NATO and international peace keeping operations and missions could rather strengthen than weaken ESDP position. There were used descriptive, comparative and analyticalmethods. For proving hypotheses there were drafted followingobjectives: first, to look at Turkey-EU relations in regional security dimension of CFSP (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan); second, to look at Turkey-EU relations in defence dimension of ESDP (military capabilities, experience in NATO, international peace keeping operations and missions).

Themain conclusionof this paper is that Turkey can largely contribute to EU foreign, security and defence policy. On the scale of benefit from such partnership “security and experience producer” has more weight than “security and experience consumer”.



This part deals with question of Turkey benefit and losses from participation in Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in the perspective of regional security. Authors have put forward following hypothesis:from the point of view of the CFSP of the EU, Turkey’s accession brings more advantages (“security producer”) than challenges (“security consumer”). The following question has been researched in this paper: would Turkey’s participation improve or weaken the CFSP.


One the one hand, with Turkey as a member of European Union would become theglobal playerin international relations; on the other hand, Turkey is “hesitant to align itself to EU positions on foreign policy and security interest issues”.3 First, Turkey would give the EU greater weight in regional and world affairs, regarding its borders with the Middle East (ME), Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region.4 Otherwise, the EU will have border with countries, which currently bring risks and threats on the foreign policy agenda of the EU. Second, from one side Turkey is a “security producer” (Turkey can contribute to foreign and security policy of EU in the Middle East), from the other side, Turkey is a “security consumer” (Turkey’s direct involvement in Cyprus problem and potential new intensification of tensions with Greece and instabilities in the ME and Caucasus (Nagorno-Karabakh conflict) may bring new security challenges).5

Finally, the relations of the EU with Azerbaijan and Georgia could reach strengthen around the Caspian Sea with its oil deposits, on the other hand, it can contribute to possible conflict, because of overlapping interests between Turkey-Iran-Russia on energy policy. Authors of this paper have chosen to analyse second aspect because this contains future possible crucial developments regarding CFSP of the enlarged EU. Also it would show Turkey’s position and demands in this sense. Through the prism of “security producer” and “security consumer” authors emphasized the challenges of CFSP.

While increasing the security of the EU in all ways, CFSP also aims at preserving peace and strengthening international security.6 Such aims signal for Union that wants to assert its identity on the international scene.7 The EU has decided to develop its own military capabilities in recent years. Nevertheless, the security dimension of CFSP has been on the agenda with the aim of progressively building a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence.8


Europeans see Turkey as security burden, because of it‘s direct involvement in Cyprus problem and the possible new escalation of tensions with Greece and borders to the unstable Middle East and Caucasus, which may bring new security challenges to the Union. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD), illegal trafficking of drugs and people and terrorism are probably the most dangerous for the EU. Besides unstable economy, not having a full democracy, a lack of human rights contributes to Turkey been as „security consumer“.9

Rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, have stepped up attacks on Turkey from northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). More than 37 000 people have died since the beginning of the PKK's armed struggle in 1984.10 Turkey cannot resolve Kurdish problem independently of its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan.11 This would be new headache for the EU. Turkey accommodated more than 16 000 Iraqi refugees during the Iraq crisis. Refugee crisis will require urgent attention from the EU. The total number of refugees is about 1.8 million. This included 25 000 to 40 000 in Lebanon, 700 000 in Jordan, estimates of up to 1 million in Syria, 16 000 in Turkey and 54 000 in Iran.12 This crisis will concern not only mentioned states, but also the EU due to its border and direct involvement.


On the other hand, Turkey is an important contributor to the CFSP because of its huge population and economic potential. “The only tangible economic advantage of Turkey’saccession to the EU would be the inflow of Turkey’s young population to the member states to countermand their aging workforces”.13 Moreover Turkey would have important political and institutional impacts concerning voting and political representation due to its second largest population after Germany, but also probably among the less wealthy.

Terrorism, illegal migration, religious extremism and problems of borders have created the new risks. Turkey can help to deal with these new risks and give an unique opportunity to the EU to become a major player in international politics. After 9/11 Turkey found itself as the only Muslim member of NATO. Also Turkey plays main role as bridge between the West and Muslim world. “The Iraq crisis highlighted differences with respect to the Transatlantic Alliance inside the EU.”14 The EU states themselves were divided to theAtlanticistsand the Europeanists. The United Kingdom’s position was close to US, but with some reluctance; Germany was against the military intervention, even with a UN mandate. Therefore France and Germany looked outside the EU to Russia and China, which are members of the UN Security Council. This division within the EU over the new international security reflected on Turkey’s position. The mainAtlanticistUK is one of the supporters of Turkey.15 Turkey also borders with three mainly security consuming regions, namely the Middle East, Caucasus and Balkans. 9/11 and Madrid terrorist acts in 2004, London suicide bomb attacks in 2005 clearly showed that no country is safe. That’s why EU could use Turkey’s presence in this region as an “asset” to play important role and act as global actor.

The EU currently imports 82% of its oil and 57% of its gas16. The energy resources of the neighbouring regions, namely Caspian region are highly important for the Eur]opean demand. Turkey has an unique geographical location and predetermined to have ‘all azimuths’of foreign policy. Caspian energy resources, which geographically lie in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, are very important for Europe. These countries,

which are Turkic-speaking, have very close economical, political and cultural relations to Turkey. Also Iran is highly important for energy policy of EU. Iran is both a Caspian and a Gulf country and possesses enormous oil and gas resources. Bordering to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the EU will have with all of them good-neighbourly, close and balanced relations. Thus Turkey’s location heightens it to a vital position in the Union’s energy strategies. Furthermore, the contribution to the EU’s “Neighborhood Policy” could be due to Turkish cultural, political, economic and also historical relations and availability in the region. This is an important factor for the effectiveness of CFSP.17

Besides, Turkish security doctrine is more close to the EU security strategy than the US’s. “References to effective multilateralism, soft power and critical dialogue contrast with theheavy-handed approach of the United States to regional security as illustrated in Iraq and asfeared in relation to Iran.”18 Turkey has become more active in regional politics due to its growing economic and political power, as well as relationships with Middle East have improved. Trade and investment rate between Turkey and the region are at high level. Moreover Turkey is a status quo power in this region.

Nevertheless, contribution to foreign relations of European Union in the Middle East could be owing to closeness to and alliance building with Israel. President of Israel S. Peres said, “Turkey is an important player in the Middle East in relation to the United States, Syria and the Palestinians, as well as us.”19 The Caspian-Caucasus-Black Sea region is an energy corridor for Europe: South Caucasus, Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, New Europe Transmission System, South Stream, Persian Pipeline, Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and future Nabucco Gas Pipeline.20 Regarding this point Turkey will play the main important role to make the EU independent from Russian energy supply.


1 Ülgen, Sinan (2008): “The evolving EU, NATO and Turkey Relationship: Implications for Transatlantic Security”. Discussion Paper Series 2008/02, EDAM, Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, p.4 http://www.edam.org.tr/images/PDF/yayinlar/makaleler/edam-discussion%20paper2%202008.pdf, [04.07.2009].

2 Taylor, Alistair (2005): “The European Union, the ESDP, and the question of Turkey”. Sabanci University, p. 100 http://digital.sabanciuniv.edu/tezler/etezfulltext/tayloralistair.pdf, [21.05.2009].

3 Vuijlsteke, Marc (2005): “Turkey on its way to the EU” http://www.coleurop.be/file/content/publications/pdf/Collegium%2031.pdf, [06.07.2009].

4 Commission of the European Communities (2004): “Issues arising from Turkey’s membership perspective”. [Commission Staff Working Document], http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/archives/pdf/key_documents/2004/issues_paper_en.pdf, [05.07.2009].

5 Özkaragöz, Elif (2005): „Turkey’s Role in The Foreign And Security Policy Of The EU“, http://www.turksam.org/en/a148.html, [04.07.2009].

6 European Parliament (2008): “The EU’s external relations”. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/expert/displayFtu.do?language=en&id=74&ftuId=FTU_6.1.3.html, [07.07.2009].

7 European Security and Defence Assembly/Assembly of WEU (2005): “The way ahead for the European Security and Defence Policy and its democratic scrutiny - reply to the annual report of the Council”, http://www.assembly-weu.org/en/documents/sessions_ordinaires/rpt/2005/1915.php , [07.07.2009].

8 Çarkoglu Ali /Rubin Barry; Cass Frank (Hrsg.) (2003): “Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration, and International Dynamics”. London-Portland, p. 35

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10 BBC (2007): “Kurdish rebels kill Turkey troops”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6537751.stm, [04.07.2009].

11 Köker, Levent (2009): “Rethinking the Kurdish Problem”. [Published inToday's Zaman], http://en.fgulen.com/press-room/columns/3240-rethinking-the-kurdish-problem.html, [07.07.2009].

12 House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (2007): “Global Security: The Middle East”, [Eighth Report of Session 2006-07], http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmfaff/363/363.pdf, [04.07.2009].

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14 Müftüler Baç, Meltem (2004): “Turkey’s Accession to the European Union:Institutional and Security Challenges”, http://www.sam.gov.tr/perceptions/Volume9/Autumn2004/MeltemBac.pdf, [04.07.2009].

15 Gardner, Hall (2003): “The Iraq Crisis and Its Impact on the Future of EU-US Relations: An American View”, http://www.cicerofoundation.org/pdf/gardner_iraq.pdf, [04.07.2009].

16 Associated Press (2007): “Low-carbon economy' proposed for Europe“ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16560106/, [04.07.2009].

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18 Seecit.1, p.4

19 Katz, Yaakov (2007): “Israel may sell Arrow and Ofek to Turkey”, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1192380787827&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FS howFull, [04.07.2009].

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University of Basel – Europainstitut




Title: Debates on Turkey's accession to EU: CFSP/ESDP