Relations Between the State and Civil Society in Turkey: Does the EU Make a Difference?
In December 1999, at the European Union’s Helsinki summit, the European Council agreed to recognize Turkey as a candidate for European Union (EU) membership. The Council’s expectation was that Turkey, like other candidate states, would benefit from a pre-accession strategy that would stimulate and support reforms in both the political and the economic realm.2 With respect to the political realm, it was expected that Turkey’s association with the European Union and, more importantly, its aspiration to full membership would lead to greater democratization in Turkey as it had in other candidate countries. This was understood to be necessary because, while multi-party elections had been taking place in Turkey since 1946 (with the first victory for the opposition over the government in 1950), there remained serious concerns about the condition of Turkish democracy — concerns regarding the role of the military in Turkish politics, the treatment of ethnic minorities and especially with respect to cultural rights, the use of torture and ill-treatment by the police and security forces, and the limitations on the rights of political parties and civil associations.
KeywordsEuropean Union Civil Society Civil Society Organization Penal Code Reform Process
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