Fine-tuning Turkey’s economic diplomacy In support of its EU accession process

Co-author of article titled “Fine-tuning Turkey’s economic diplomacy In support of its EU accession process” with Mehmet Ögütçü London-based senior multinational business executive and former Turkish diplomat and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) director. Professor Raymond Saner presented joint paper at the 7th regional congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies (ICCEES), Berlin, 2-4 August 2007.


Fine-tuning Turkey 's economic diplomacy


In support of its EU accession process

Mehmet Ögütçü and Raymond Saner

ICCEES Regional European Congress

Berlin , 2-4 August 2007


There is a need to step up the efforts to consolidate Turkey's EU accession process at a critical time when the EU is in an enlargement fatigue and trying to put its house in order, and when Ankara shows signs of drifting away from the initial enthusiasm as a result of the frustration due to the re-opening of the Pandora's box on its fitness economically, culturally and politically for the eventual goal after so much road that has been traveled since the early 1960s. The economic diplomacy remains a powerful instrument for both sides to deploy in this relationship of ups and downs.

There has recently been much talk in the streets of Brussels over whether or not the new French President Sarkozy will attempt to block
Turkey 's EU accession ambitions as promised during his election campaign. In a tactical move, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed that France would not block anything this time around at a time when such a move would have been unjustified and potentially very damaging in a relationship that is already sailing on very rocky waters

However, after the constitutional crisis is sorted out, Turkey will be very near the top of Sarkozy's action list when a full discussion not only on Turkey but on Europe's borders as a whole will take place at the December 2007 EU Summit. So, between now and December, both sides need to prepare themselves and the public for what could be a win-win solution in order for the critically important relationship to not turn into another frustrating affair.

This paper argues that in the coming period, the chances of Turkish accession process moving on smoothly will be greater if Turkey can continue managing its recent economic recovery and turning it into sustainable growth over the next decade. This will eliminate or at least reduce the deep-rooted concerns on the side of the EU about accession being too costly and too destabilizing in economic and social terms .

An effective and targeted deployment of economic diplomacy in this context by the Turkish government, private sector and civil society, as well as international organizations in which Turkey is a member will be of great help in allaying fears in the EU that this 73-million nation will join the faltering club as an asset and not as a liability.