The conditionality of EU accession has collapsed: Kemal Derviş

The conditionality of EU accession has collapsed: Kemal Derviş

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The conditionality of EU accession has collapsed: Kemal Derviş

'Conditionality of accession has collapsed,' Kemal Deviş (2nd L) has said.

The terms of the European Union’s discussions with Turkey need to be reformed, according to Turkey’s former Economy Minister Kemal Derviş, who said the “conditionality of accession has collapsed.”

Derviş, who is currently vice president of the Brookings Institution, was speaking at the first strategic event to mark the cooperation between Sabancı University’s Istanbul Policy Center and the German think tank Stiftung Mercator.

Speaking at a panel on Turkish-EU relations, Derviş said there could be a different type of relationship between Turkey and the EU. “The EU has rules, but they are not absolute, they are evolving. We could talk about a different form of integration. I am not talking about a privileged partnership outside of Europe, but a special relationship inside Europe,” said Derviş, who was head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the second half of the 2000s.

The last few years have created a new opportunity to rethink European architecture. According to Derviş, in the past the EU always said to Turkey “We have got rules. This is a club of strong countries. You have a poor economy, you need help.” However, “recent events have shown that these rules are not absolute. Look at how the eurozone will be governed. The U.K. is out of the eurozone, but the U.K. is not going to leave the EU,” he said. 

Derviş said Turkey’s relationship with the European family could thus resemble that of the United Kingdom. Turkey would not want economic help from the EU, according to Derviş. 

“We need to put the past behind us and start again with self-confidence and without prejudices. Europe and Turkey need to say: ‘We have to make it work.’ It might not be the way we thought it would be, but we have no other choice but to move forward, so let’s make it work,” he said.

Daniel Gross, the director of the Center for European Studies (CEPS), has warned that with each new entrant, the bar for membership has gone higher for future applications, adding that good governance has become much more important than economic indicators. “Greece has been a big failure for EU, and this is becoming more apparent. The bar will go higher, as we learned that the quality of internal administration was very important,” he said. “It’s not enough to say that ‘We are better than the two worse cases in EU.’ Turkey needs to get up to the average of EU,” he said.

Derviş reacted to Gross’ words by saying he agreed with the substance of the statement but the form of communication needed to be different. Turkey has reached a point where it can no longer face the rhetoric of bars. “That period is finished. The conditionality of accession has collapsed,” he said.

Arabs want to see Turkey in the EU

Derviş also emphasized the importance of the EU for Turkey. “According to Pew, 66 percent of the Arabs would like to see Turkey as part of the EU. I support Turkey having strong relations with the Middle East and Africa. As head of UNDP I saw how Turkish diplomats were active all over the world and the increasing Turkish assistance in international issues. But Turkey is strong and influential because it is part of the European family and is already integrated with Europe. Without the EU dimension Turkey would be just another Middle Eastern country and would have a weaker influence.”

Derviş stressed the EU still remains an attractive model. “The EU’s achievement is impressive. It has created a zone of peace, created multinational decision-making mechanisms,” he said, adding that the EU has a market economy with strong social policies, and that this functions well, despite all the difficulties. While the EU needs reforms, people could still relate to its model, said Derviş.

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