The European Impact on State-Religion Relations in Turkey: Political Islam, Alevis and Non-Muslim Minorities

Ulusoy K.

AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, vol.46, no.3, pp.407-423, 2011 (SSCI) identifier identifier


Since Turkey's application for membership of the European Union (EU) in 1987, the EU has itself been a structural component of Turkey's political transformation. The European impact intensified after Turkey was granted the status of an official candidate at the EU's Helsinki Summit in 1999. Since then, Turkey has issued a series of reform packages with the aim of starting accession negotiations, which began in October 2005. These reforms have initiated a democratic regime that is structurally different from its predecessors in terms of its definition of political community, national identity and the territorial structure of the state. Among many other aspects of the current political transformation such as the resolution of the Kurdish problem and administrative reform, this article concentrates on how the European impact, which I label Europeanisation, has influenced state-religion relations in Turkey. Europeanisation has three major mechanisms that influence actors, institutions, ideas and interests in varying ways: institutional compliance, changing opportunity structures, and the framing of domestic beliefs and expectations. The article concentrates on how these mechanisms operate in the creation of a new regulatory framework of religion in Turkey.