Turkey and the EU: yesterday's answers to tomorrow's security problems?
Conflict Studies Reasearch Centre
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EU civilian crisis management
Since the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it has become rather commonplace among EU policymakers to present Turkey as a 'consumer' and not a 'producer' of security in Europe. 1 In the absence of a Soviet threat to contain which Turkish policymakers had, in the aftermath of the Cold War, adopted the role of a 'staunch ally', Turkey's geopolitical location no longer seems to justify the kind of military as well as economic and political support it received during the Cold War. Second, the Turkish military capability, which was considered an asset at a time when NATO strategy assigned a significant deterrent value to ground forces, has lost its centrality to Western strategy. Third, its proximity to unstable regions such as the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East means Turkey is faced with military threats and could embroil the EU in its own problems. Given such prevalent representations of Turkey as a 'burden,' and not an 'asset' for building security in Europe, Turkish policymakers spent the 1990s trying to find Turkey a niche in the evolving post-Cold War environment. 2 With the European Union's move to become a 'military power' in its own right, they seem to have finally found that niche. The EU's 1999 decision to recognize Turkey as a candidate country is viewed by some as an evidence of its recognition of Turkey's value as a producer of security in Europe. 3 It has been suggested, for instance, that an important reason behind the European Council decision to elevate Turkey's status to that of candidate country is the EU's evolving security role. In other words, the estimates of the potential benefits of Turkey's inclusion into the EU's Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the costs entailed by its exclusion essentially shape the EU's policies towards Turkey. 4 The fact that the EU decision on Turkey's candidacy and the constitution of a European military force for crisis management purposes were both declared at the Helsinki summit seems to have reinforced this reasoning. The EU's move to transform itself from a purely 'civilian power' 5 to a 'military power' has raised hopes in Turkey that the change in EU's security policies may be the opportunity Turkey has been waiting for since the end of the Cold War.