Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

The private life of politics

Author: Bilge Firat

Turkey’s Europeanisation saga, which began in 1959 and climaxed in 2005 with the opening of membership negotiations with the European Union (EU), presents a unique opportunity to understand how interstate actors negotiate their interests; what ‘common interests’ look like from their historically and culturally contingent perspectives; and what happens when actors work for their private, professional, public, personal or institutional interests, even when those interests may go against their mandate. Honing in on the role of diplomats and lobbyists during negotiations for Turkey’s contentious EU membership bid, this book presents intricate, backstage conflicts of power and interests and negotiations of compromises, which drove this candidate country both closer to and farther from the EU. The reader will find in the book the everyday actors and agents of Turkish Europeanisation and learn what their work entails, which interests they represent and how they do what they do. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Brussels, the book argues that public, private and corporate actors, voicing economic, political and bureaucratic interests from all corners of Europe, sought access to markets and polities through the Turkish bid instead of pursuing their mandate of facilitating Turkey’s EU accession. Although limited progress was achieved in Turkey’s actual EU integration, diplomats and lobbyists from both sides of the negotiating table contradictorily affirmed their expertise as effective negotiators, seeking more status and power. This is the first book-length account of the EU–Turkey power-interest negotiations in situ, from the perspective of its long-term actors and agents.

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