EU–Turkey Relations: Civil Society and Depoliticization, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

EU–Turkey Relations

Civil Society and Depoliticization, 1st Edition

By Özge Zihnioğlu


192 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780815378815
pub: 2019-08-27
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This book focuses on the hidden but ever-present civil society dimension of the EU’s policies towards Turkey and uncovers the pitfall of EU-Turkey relations.

It establishes the growing depoliticization of Turkish civil society (in contrast to what the EU’s policies aimed for) and engages with the questions of why and how Turkish civil society depoliticized. It discusses how Turkey’s retreating democracy, and the intense polarization in Turkish political and social life make rights-based activism more difficult. Finally, this book investigates what implications Turkish civil society’s depoliticization bears for EU-Turkey relations, reveals the diminishing leverage of the EU’s policies and discusses how this reflects on Turkey’s already closing civic space. It explains why and how EU-Turkey relations deteriorated over the last decade, examines the current stalemate, and discusses why civil society matters.

This text will be of key interest to scholars and students in the field of EU-Turkey relations, Turkish studies and civil society studies as well as more broadly to NGOs, European studies and politics, and International Relations.


"This rigorous, objective, and thought-provoking account simultaneously dissects European Union support for civil society in Turkey and the depoliticization of Turkish society. In so doing, it provides an invaluable larger understanding of Turkey's troubling political path and the equally problematic evolution of Turkey's relations with the European Union." - Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, USA.

"Re-launching Turkey's European integration process by restoring the EU’s transformative power on Turkey is crucial. Özge Zihnioglu’s book is so lucid and enlightening in understanding the dynamics of setbacks and progress for a better future to be designed by the civic society.” - Bahadir Kaleagasi, TUSIAD-Turkish Industry & Business Association and Paris Bosphorus Institute.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Recent History of EU-Turkey Relations

3. Current Issues and Challenges in EU-Turkey Relations

4. Revisiting Turkish Civil Society

5. Changing Landscape of Turkish Civil Society

6. EU Civil Society Support in Turkey

7. The Impact of EU Funds over Turkish Civil Society

8. Conclusion

About the Author

Özge Zihnioglu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Bahçesehir University, Turkey.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in European Foreign Policy

It is a timely moment to launch a new series on European foreign policy. Europe and the EU now face multiple challenges including: conflict in the Middle East and the rise of radical jihadist groups like Islamic State; assertive Russian action in Ukraine and other countries on the EU’s eastern borders; the strategic ambitions of rising powers; and the euro crisis’ impact on the EU’s global power.

Additionally, the Union’s own internal institutional processes have undergone far-reaching change in recent years and a plethora of new strategies has been introduced covering Asia, trade, counter-terrorism, democracy and human rights, geo-economics, and other regions and topics.

This series will address the standard range of conceptual and theoretical questions related to European foreign policy. At the same time, in response to the intensity of new policy developments, it endeavors to ensure that it also has a topical flavor, addressing the most important and evolving challenges to European foreign policy, in a way that will be relevant to the policy-making and think-tank communities.

Key topics include:

  • The EU’s responses to the emergence of a new geopolitics in the Middle East;

  • European and EU policy towards the east, as it grapples with conflict in Ukraine and instability elsewhere across the region covered by the Eastern Partnership;

  • Europe’s changing engagement with rising powers, and in particular with Asia;

  • Transatlantic relations;

  • The foreign policy impact of the EU’s internal crisis;

  • The new Energy Union, energy security and climate change;

  • Europe’s relationship to its southern neighbours in the Mediterranean and in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

If you have an idea for a new book in Routledge Series on Dissent and Crises in World Politics, please send a written proposal to the Series Editors:

Professor Richard G. Whitman is Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent.

Professor Richard YOUNGS is Professor of International Relations at the University of Warwick and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.



For guidance on how to structure your proposal, please visit:


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