Edition: Lublin 2011
For over half a century Turkey has been striving to become an EU member. Nonetheless, the problem of serious democratic reforms which would bring Turkey closer to the Community was first taken up by a moderate Islamic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the first years of his government (2002-2007) in particular, a lot of democratic reforms in Turkey were carried out under the EU pressure, for example private Kurdish courses as well as TV and radio programmes were allowed. Turkey governed by Erdoğan has begun opening to its neighbours. The question of the Armenians’ genocide from the beginning of the 20th century was more and more frequently becoming the subject of the public debate. Yet, in the recent years the process of the implementation of democratic reforms by Prime Minister Erdoğan has considerably weakened. Freedom of speech raises the most serious doubts. The Prime Minister of Turkey has also ceased to be interested in extending the Kurds’ rights. Moreover, he has threatened to freeze the relations with the EU if the Republic of Cyprus takes over the leadership in the EU Council in the second half of 2012. However, in spite of the fears as to Turkey’s giving up the EU aspirations, the priority of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s government should be a full EU membership. The evidence for it is not only the willingness to solve the Cypriot problem quickly but also the works on the new constitution which will introduce more democratic freedoms in Turkey, in accordance with the EU criteria. However, one should not expect the acceleration of the reforms. Having the perspective of a distant EU membership, the Prime Minister of Turkey will carry out the policy of small steps. He may also sacrifice his good relations with the EU for the sake of the internal policy. The key role in the process of Turkey’s integration with the EU will be also played by the attitude of European states (mainly France and Germany). Without the political will of these states, the chances for Turkey’s membership seem non-existent.