The private life of politics

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.

Chapter 3 focuses on the EU’s enlargement ethos. It introduces the reader to the political and technical framework of the EU’s enlargement policy and accession negotiations with third countries as soft power. It argues that the enlargement policy has a ‘pedagogical’ grounding that emerges from and produces an uneven power relationship between the EU (teacher) and Turkey (student). The accession pedagogy elicits Turkish governmental responses that are often defensive, defiant and counterproductive. These responses make sense when one considers them within the context of Turkey’s post-imperial, neo-nationalist ambitions to construct its own soft power (neo-Ottomanism) to counterbalance its power inequality with the EU. Politicians’, diplomats’ and lobbyists’ manipulation of where technical prerequisites for accession end and where political interests begin frame this accession pedagogy and its neo-Ottomanist response. Based on comparative readings of the accounts from Turkish and EU member state diplomats and lobbyists, this chapter discusses how Turkish and EU actors perform policy work as well as the power interests in this ‘pedagogical’ framework.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

Chapter 4 maps the complex machinery of how national interests of EU member states and Turkey are formed and communicated inside and outside the European Council. It focuses on the role of Brussels-based EU member state diplomats as permanent national lobbies during this process. Together with corporate lobbyists, these diplomats sculpt the terms and conditions of Turkey’s EU accession responsibilities during their twice-weekly meetings of the Council’s Working Party on Enlargement. Faced with pressures from advanced European capitalism, the everyday, (in)formal communicative practices of sovereignty by diplomats and lobbyists have actually driven Turkey away from accession. Whereas EU member state diplomats enjoy greater flexibility in performing their duties of diplomacy and lobbying, Turkish diplomats participate in the construction of Turkish national interests less than they might, due in part to how Turkey’s EU policy and accession negotiations are organised by the Ankara government. To remedy this, Turkish diplomats carved a wedge between Turkish and EU interests, instead of integrating them, to make their services useful. Their efforts come at a price, however, as they disengage from the Eurocracy, facing enduring problems of collocution.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

This chapter discusses key premises of the Turkish Europeanisation literature and identifies its critical drawbacks. It argues for an analytical perspective that is grounded in the everyday understanding of actors’ and agents’ actual roles during EU–Turkey negotiations over economy, governance and ideology. Analysing the worlds and actions of diplomats and lobbyists who served as human conduits during the negotiations offers a better route to understand what ultimately went ‘wrong’ with Turkish Europeanisation. The chapter explains the book’s main thesis of how Turkish Europeanisation evolved from an accession framework to an access objective, as its actors began working for their own private, professional, public, personal or institutional interests and against their mandate of making accession happen. It also explains central concepts of the book, such as interest, power and their brokerage.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

Chapter 5 discusses the role of lobbying in making and unmaking EU–Turkey economic integration within the framework of European Commission. Drawing on the EU–Turkey customs union, free trade agreement on steel and other technical and sectoral meetings between Commission bureaucrats and their Turkish counterparts, it focuses on transnational encounters between bureaucrats, diplomats and lobbyists and their symbolic dimension at several significant moments of the deepening of economic integration between the EU and Turkey. Turkey, though, has turned towards protectionism to manage the political and economic costs associated with its EU accession and to satisfy key business interests from both sides to protect their market access in the face of the receding reality of accession. This chapter argues that Turkish elites try to compensate for such losses by means of dramatic expressions of state power, but end up accentuating actors’ differences in cultures of negotiation, producing mistrust and wariness between actors and alienating them from one another.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

Chapter 2 maps out the social topography of Brussels’ Europolitics and introduces key actors of Turkey’s Europeanisation, mainly from the Turkish side. These actors are identified as nobles and notables because of their prominent role during Turkish Europeanisation and because many proved resilient as effective negotiators, even when the EU–Turkey membership negotiations were de facto halted. The chapter also gives a historical overview of the negotiations since 2005 and explains the research and writing methodology.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation
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Lessons from an anti-case

The conclusion considers the book’s key findings regarding the role of diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation. It also considers the future of EU–Turkey relations within the context of increasing authoritarianism in Turkey and the regional problems Turkey and the EU share, as well as their implications

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation

Chapter 6 focuses on the production of the European Parliament’s annual reports on Turkey’s implementation of the internal reforms required for its EU accession. It considers reports and report-writing as a site where and medium in which EU and Turkish diplomats, bureaucrats and lobbyists negotiate their interests. It argues such reports are essentially political documents and they contribute to bureaucratic politics in both the EU and Turkey. Those who draft, circulate or influence their writing increasingly rely on them to sustain communication between the EU and Turkey. In return, political documents serve as the means through which actors maintain an enduring demand for their expertise. This human contact ultimately reveals complex negotiations over what matters most, for whom and to what end in Europe’s encouragement (or barring) of the Turkish membership as seen from within the European Parliament.

in Diplomacy and lobbying during Turkey’s Europeanisation