ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s surprising push to revamp his country’s stalled European Union accession bid may lead to some progress, but European leaders will ultimately be deterred by Ankara's democratic backsliding, experts told Al-Monitor.
At the NATO summit in Vilnius on Monday, Erdogan reversed course by dropping his country’s objection to the Swedish bid to join the alliance. The move came after Stockholm pledged to “actively support efforts” to revive Turkey’s accession negotiations to the EU, modernize the customs union treaty between Turkey and the bloc and allow visa free travel for Turkey to member countries. Sweden also made other promises to Turkey in a seven-point memo.
In line with its founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s vision, Turkey had historically positioned itself as a part of the Europe. And it made its bid to join the European club in 1959 by applying to what was then the European Economic Community, merely two years after its inception
However, few observers are optimistic that Erdogan's efforts will alter the nature of the ties between Ankara and Brussels, which have deteriorated steadily over the past years over Turkey’s democratic backsliding and human rights record.