ECPR General Conference Virtual Event, 24 - 28 August 2020
The issue of Turkish accession is an ongoing challenge to the Europen Union (EU). A particular element of this challenge is the question of compatibility of Turkish identity to the EU membership since the end of the 1990s. Despite the two-year-long stagnation of the relations immediately after the Luxembourg Summit in 1997, Turkey was finally granted formal candidate status in the 1999 Helsinki Summit, which led to the initiaton of debates on Europeanness of Turkish identity to make or not to make her a part of European integration. Since EU membership became possible for Turkey with the Helsinki Summit, controversy over Turkey’s democracy, culture, religion, geography, history and people became much more visible and outspoken than before after this summit. While especially in the period between 1997 and 2007 in which Europeanization in Turkey was relatively experienced intense as well as the launch of the EU-ization with the EU-induced reforms in Turkey, a wide array of views regarding Turkish identity emerged in the European Parliament (EP) as the only directly elected EU institution. Besides, radical changes among the MEPs in their understanding of Turkish identity and in turn European identity were also observed. In this context, benefitting from various studies applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) on the EP debates, this study aims to find out the impact of Turkey-EU relations between 1997 and 2007 on perception of Turkish identity and therewith European identity in the EP in this period.