Realistic Touches Necessary To Strengthen The Turkey-Eu Relations

Although Turkey’s EU accession process helped a lot in political and economic transformation of the country, it came to a standstill

Many currently find it difficult to pronounce a membership perspective for our country; but we all have the responsibility to keep the hopes alive and the work ongoing. It is possible to breathe life into accession related dynamics if all stakeholders act with sincere commitment. This requires “visionary leadership”. Turkey and Europe, bound to share a common destiny due to geographical, historical and strategic reasons, cannot downgrade their relations to a transactional profile without a future perspective. This is neither sustainable nor beneficial to any side in the long-run.


The EU project is not only a strong propeller to economic prosperity. It also helps socio-cultural pluralism thrive in harmony and hence promotes stability. Just imagine how the EU membership of a special country like Turkey would inspire solutions to various conflicts in the neighbouring regions, which unfortunately continue to threaten the global peace. Decision makers in Europe often ignore this potential spillover effect and the accompanying soft-power gains, at a time when their future role in the reshaping global order is seriously challenged.


We must remain as defenders of “the idea”; but the business world runs on “realism”. Hence, given the currently unfavourable conditions to see a momentum in the accession process, we should focus on and promote some “selected viable goals” in the “short-term” to keep the work ongoing, as stated above. The EU is destination to half of the Turkish exports and source to around 63 percent of Koc Group’s international revenues: current Customs Union is the backbone for business models of the big investors in Turkey. Although this valuable mechanism of the EU-Turkey relations proved to function smoothly even during the past political problems, it needs a structural update in line with the requirements of the day. The European Commission’s own reports show that an extended and deepened Customs Union will be a win-win setup for both Turkey and the EU in many aspects. This might be the much-needed new story in the EU-Turkey relations.


We also believe that the visa exemption process should be concluded without any further delay. Current unfair discrimination against our people stands as a significant barrier to stronger social and economic ties with the EU. These two areas of potential progress present great opportunities to re-establish an accession related framework, which has long been absent in relations. Hence, we should prioritise and promote the related efforts, inter alia, yet keeping the “ultimate objective” in mind and on the agenda.

During this stagnant period, we should focus on Customs Union modernization and visa liberalization goals

Koç Holding AŞ Corporate Affairs Coordinator Ali Utku Atalay

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