Working Paper 23
Is There a Puzzle? Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey (1999-2010)
The Helsinki Summit in 1999 represents a turning point for EU–Turkey relations. Turkey gained status as a formal candidate country for the EU providing a strong incentive to launch democratic reforms for the ultimate reward of membership. Since 2001, the country has launched a number of reforms in minority rights. Many controversial issues, such as denial of the existence of the Kurds, or the lack of property rights granted to non-Muslim minorities in the country, have made progress. Even though the reforms in minority rights may represent a tremendous step for the Europeanization process of Turkey, the compliance trend in minority rights is neither progressive nor smooth. While there is a consensus within the literature about the acceleration of reforms starting in 2002 and the slow down by 2005 in almost all policy areas, scholars are divided into two camps regarding the continuing slow down of the reform process or the revival of the reforms since 2008. I argue, in the present paper, that the compliance process with minority rights in Turkey is puzzling due to the differentiated outcome and the recent revival of behavioral compliance. I aim to shed light on the empirical facts in the least-likely area for reform in the enlargement process. Through a detailed analysis of minority-related reform process of Turkey being an instance of ongoing compliance, the paper contributes to the literature divided on the end result of Europeanization in the country recently.