Turkey and the European Union in the Middle East

Potential for cooperation or continuing discord?

Authored by: Meltem Müftüler-Baç , Damla Cihangir-Tetik

Routledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367330767
eBook ISBN: 9780429317873
Adobe ISBN:


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While Turkey always constituted a sui generis case of its own in its relations with the European Union (EU), it has never been completely out of European futures. Although, as of 2020, EU–Turkey relations are at a stalemate, both of them seem to have found new patterns of cooperation which go beyond accession. Both Turkey and the EU are surrounded by multiple crises originating from various locations in the Middle East which pose security threats and new challenges. The Arab uprisings, the Syrian civil war and the humanitarian crisis it led to, the Iranian nuclear deal, along with struggles for regional dominance in the region by multiple powers all add up to demonstrate the fragility of the European borders. In this chapter, we identify different modes of cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the Middle East in response to such major challenges, particularly in the fields of foreign policy, trade and aid. We assess whether there is an increasing distance from (and contestation of) the EU or a possible complementarity between Turkey and the EU in terms of their policy positions on the Middle East.

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