by Dr. Alper Kaliber
The common denominator in most usages of the term Europeanization is its definition as a ‘process of change and adaptation which is understood to be a consequence of the development of the European Union’ (Ladrech, 2001, p.1). In the relevant literature the European Union (EU) is often presumed as the principal agent of change and only body politic where European norms, policies, and institutions are (re)constructed and exported to the domestic polities of the member and associate countries. For instance, in their top-down approach, Boerzel and Risse (2000, p. 6) understand Europeanization ‘as a process of change at the domestic level in which the member states adapt their processes, policies, and institutions to new practices, norms, rules, and procedures that emanate from the emergence of a European system of governance’. In this conceptualization domestic change through the EU is taken as a linear, empirically observable and testable process, the success of which mainly depends on the adaptational ability and learning capacity of the domestic societies. It is a teleological process of progress toward ‘the more European’ and ‘the more modern’ embodied in the core Western members of the EU.
In this peace I will argue that this evolutionary, and deterministic understanding of Europeanization is inadequate to comprehend transformations triggered by the European integration in the European social formations. In order to remedy the reductionism and essentialism of the literature, I attach considerable value to make an analytical distinction between EU-ization and Europeanization. In my distinction, EU-ization refers to a more concrete and restricted sphere of alignment with EU’s body of law and institutions. It is a formal process of adjustment the most radical impacts of which are manifest during the accession negotiations. Alignment with and implementation of the acquis communautaire is the sine qua non and the yardstick against which to measure achieved level of EU-ization.
On the other hand, Europeanization, rather than being a process, refers to a context or a situation (Buller and Gamble, 2002, p. 26). the impacts of which are contested, and variable reflecting specific conditions of different historical periods and of specific national contexts (Malmborg and Strath, 2002). The more the national and European-level political, bureaucratic and civil societal actors make reference to specific European norms, policies or institutions, the more Europe can be expected to have an impact on domestic policies, polities and political structures. In the same vein, the more the domestic public debates and identity claims react to specific European norms, values and policies, the more penetration of Europeanisation can be expected into domestic discourses. Thus, all utterances and actions by domestic and European level actors making reference to Europe and to the Europeanness in one way or another re-configure Europeanization as a context from which varying ideas, norms and values can be extracted and used at sub-national, national and supra-national politics.
Europe has extensively been implicated in modernization and nation-building processes in Turkey as a political and normative context long before the emergence of the EC/EU. This is not only due to the fact that Europe and Western modernity it has symbolized has been extensively mobilized by the modernizing elite to justify their vision of state and society since the 19th century; but also due to fact that different political groups taking part in contemporary public debates about the nature of domestic regime and identity of Turkey have begun to articulate their political arguments by making reference to European norms, policies and expectations. Turkey entered the twenty first century under the shadow of ideological, political and economic debates flourishing in every segment of the society (Kasaba and Bozdoğan, 2000). Two discourses of modernization and Europe have framed the parameters of these debates dominating Turkish politics and polarising the society. These are the Republicanist discourse defending a state-centric, secular and ethno-nationalist paradigm of modernization, and the integrationists foregrounding discourses of economic and political liberalization, and pluralism and civil society. Whilst the Republicanist discourse is espoused by a coalition of military-led secular establishment, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and other nationalist groupings from left and right; the Integrationist paradigm is articulated by the liberal-oriented political and business elite, some Kurdish and Turkish intellectuals and the Islamists, mostly convened around the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), who call themselves as conservative democrats.
For Republicanists, Europe still represents the Europe of nation states and the birthplace of modernization as a universal project of enlightenment. Secularism and nationalism have been the two indispensable pillars of Western modernity and culture with which Turkey should be engaged. Turkey can be part of this Europe only if it can safeguard the Republican values (i.e. secularism, rule of law, Kemalist nationalism) enshrined in the constitution, and even against the West, if necessary. For the Integrationists, Europe is rather the Europe of liberal democracy associated with pluralism, individual rights and freedoms, market economy and economic welfare. European integration as a civilizational project is also a means for Turkey to be a regional and global actor, to integrate with globalizing world politics and economy. In particular, the Islamist wing of the Integrationists does not forge a necessary linkage between modernity and the West (Rumford, 2006, p. 5). To them, a Turkey that reconciliates the Eastern and Western elements of its identity can achieve an alternative model of modernity (Davutoğlu, 2004).
In essence, different discourses of Europe and Europeanness have been an integral part of modernity debates in Turkey, which are also shaping the domestic and foreign policy agenda of the proponents of this debate. The Republicanists and Integrationists are converging on the idea that values, institutions, policies described as modern and associated with democracy are largely embedded in the European model of society—mostly West European—to which Turkey should be a part. However, they are diverging in both the definition of these values and institutions and the ways in which Turkey should appropriate them (i. e. the speed, content, timing and extent of the appropriation). The debates about Turkey’s place in world politics and its identity are not at any conditions grounded on the rejection of modernity and Europe, but rather on their different interpretations. Europeanization impacts upon Turkish society as a political-normative context where the norms, values, institutions assumed as European are increasingly shaping the varying discourses of modernization in the country.
- Boerzel Tanja A., Risse, Thomas, (2000), ‘When Europe Hits Home: Europeanization and Domestic Change’, European Integration online Papers (EIoP) Vol. 4:15; available at http://eiop.or.at/eiop/texte/2000-015a.htm.
- Buller, Jim and Gamble, Andrew, (2002), ‘Conceptualising Europeanization’, Public Policy and Administration, 17(2):4-24.
- Davutoğlu, A . (2004), ‘Türkiye Merkez Ülke Olmalı’ [Turkey Should Become a Pivotal State], Radikal (Turkish Daily), 26 February.
- Malmbordg, Mikael, Af and Strath, Bo. (2002) ‘The Meaning of Europe’, (Berg Publisher).
- Rumford, Chris, (2006), ‘Rethinking Turkey’s Relationship with the EU: Postwestern Turkey Meets Postwestern Europe’, Politics and International relations, Working Paper No 3, Royal Holloway University of London.
- Kasaba, Reşat and Bozdoğan, Sibel, (2000), ‘Turkey at a Crossroad’, Journal of International Affairs, 54(1): 1-20.
- Ladrech, Robert, (2001), ‘Europeanization and Political Parties Towards A Framework for Analysis’, Keele Political Parties Research Unit (KEPRU), Working Paper 7, available at www.keele.ac.uk/depts/spire/research/KEPRU/Working_Papers/KEPRU%20Paper%207.pdf .
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 However, one should note that the proponents of these two visions of modernity are far from being homogenous and consists of clusters with diverging views, backgrounds and fault lines. Yet a specific perception of modernity and Europe is shared among its members.