FEUTURE Online Paper No. 28 (2019)
This paper outlines how narratives on European Union (EU)-Turkey relations changed over time since the 1960s and until the present. Applying a narrative approach, the paper aims to deconstruct a debate, which has been characterized by a plurality or even cacophony of stories by different actors. It presents the most influential narratives of EU institutions and Turkish political actors and traces their change over time as well as the dynamics between them. Based on a qualitative coding of a vast set of official documents from EU and Turkey (ca. 280 documents), it draws the following main conclusions:
- Different in nature: Turkish and European narratives vary considerably in their nature. Turkish narratives all share the same goal of full membership, while they have changing plots and different lines of argumentation. EU narratives differ both in their plot and in terms of the “finalité” of EU-Turkey relations.
- Progressively divergent: Since the 1960s, the number of narratives in Turkey and the EU has gradually increased and the debates have become more divergent.
- Growingly conflictual: While the study confirms that conflictual rhetoric is rather a recurring pattern and not new to the debates on EU-Turkey relations, the level of escalation on both sides in the last years has been considerably higher.