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The influence of orientalism on European Union - Turkey relations

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2007
Becan, Petek
This thesis analyzes the influence of Orientalism on Turkey’s relations with the European Union (EU) since Turkey’s application for full membership. EU-Turkey relations are elaborated in the context of how Europe constitutes its relations with Turkey as an oriental ‘other’. Thus arguments on the role of the other in identification process, self/other conceptualization and Orientalism as an othering mechanism of the west are presented to provide a theoretical framework. The question of how Turkish-European affairs have developed since the eighteenth century is answered in order to constitute a historical background of EU-Turkey relations, adopt theories of othering and observe construction of Orientalism. Lastly the traces of Orientalism since Turkey’s application for membership in 1987 are searched in the official documents of the EU and statements of European statesmen. Religion, culture and civilization are analyzed as differentiating factors in the hegemonic relationship between the west and the Orient, between the EU and Turkey. It will be concluded that Orientalism continues to be an influential factor in EU’s enlargement process, specifically in Turkey’s accession.