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Elite Opinion Dimension: Behind the Scenes of Turkey's Protracted Accession Process: European Elite Debates


Turkey’s long march to Europe and most pointedly the many obstacles encountered along the way are often attributed to contrary European public opinion2 regarding Turkey’s EU membership. However, European public opinion on EU-Turkey relations became a major agenda item only after the 2004 eastern enlargement, the 2005 opening of Turkey’s accession negotiations and 2004-2009 travails over the EU’s constitutional reform. Public opinion has been used and abused by several European elites to renege on their positions and commitments vis-à-vis Turkey. Furthermore, up until the turn of the century, Turkey, whose contractual ties with the EU date back to the 1963 association agreement, had rarely if ever been salient in European debates, only raising public and media attention in moments of foreign policy crisis such as the 1974 military intervention in Cyprus or the successive military coups in Turkey.