At a time when Turkey’s relations with the European Union have been frayed and official channels of communication are neither stable nor effective, civil society offers an important avenue of interaction. This paper looks at whether and how civil society organizations can influence public opinion in Turkey and across the European Union for closer cooperation. Accordingly, it first examines how civil society actors mobilized around Turkey’s European Union membership bid in the early years of Turkey’s candidacy. The paper explores the earlier efforts of prominent civic actors, and discusses the enabling factors. After a brief overview of the changing conditions, the paper then suggests different ways in which civil society can influence public opinion in Turkey and across the European Union today. In so doing, the paper considers the challenges that lie ahead.
Revised version of a paper presented at the seminar “Engaging Civil Societies in Turkey and the EU: Can They Break Through the Deadlock?”, organized in Istanbul on 1 February 2019 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) and Stiftung Mercator under the Global Turkey in Europe V programme.
1. Turkish Civil Society and Support for the EU Accession Process
2. Turkish Civil Society and Influencing Public Opinion
2.1 Public Opinion in Turkey
2.2 Public Opinion in the EU