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Problematique in Turkish-French relations: the French perspective on Turkey’s candidacy for European Union membership

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2019
Çelikel, Ece
This thesis analyzes France’s assessment on Turkey’s candidacy for European Union (EU) membership, covering a time period of twenty years -from 1999 to 2019. By the time Turkey has obtained EU candidate country status at Helsinki EU Summit in 1999, a massive debate has occupied French socio-political spheres. Turkish candidacy has been never debated that widely in any EU member country other than France. Equally, France had never debated any candidate country that intensely other than Turkey. The thesis searches for the reasons behind these aspects and evaluates the general arguments along with facts constituting public opinion and leaders’ (multifaceted) discourses. The theoretical framework hereby assumes that values and identities construct discourses, making public opinion valuable as never before. The thesis, then, highlights the French national self-conception, prejudices about cultural characteristics are dominant parameters in forming the opinions of the public and that of leaders. The overall evaluation reveals French political leaders and the political elite in general -irrespective of their personal thoughts about Turkey’s adhesion, will always invoke public opinion to decide on this particular issue.