Relations Between the State and Civil Society in Turkey: Does the EU Make a Difference?

  • Wendy Weber


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.


European Union Civil Society Civil Society Organization Penal Code Reform Process 
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  1. 2.
    Özgül Erdemli, ‘Chronology: Turkey’s Relations with the EU’, in Ali Çarkoğlu and Barry Rubin, eds, Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration and International Dynamics (London: Frank Cass, 2003), p. 6.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003), p. 8.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ersin Kalaycioğlu, ‘State and Civil Society in Turkey: Democracy, Development and Protest’, in Amyn B. Sajoo, ed., Civil Society in the Muslim World: Contemporary Perspectives (London: Tauris, 2002), pp. 253–66.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Stephen Kinzer, Crescent & Star: Turkey between Two Worlds (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001), p. 26.Google Scholar
  5. 32.
    See Fatma Muge Gocek, ‘Contemporary Turkey: A Country of Tense Coexistence’, in Hybrid Geographies in the Eastern Mediterranean: Views from the Bosphorous, Macalester International, vol. 15 (2005), pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  6. 38.
    Stephen Gill, ‘European Governance and New Constitutionalism: Economic and Monetary Union and Alternatives to Disciplinary Neoliberalism in Europe’, New Political Economy 3 (1998), 1: 5–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Wendy Weber 2006

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  • Wendy Weber

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