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De-Europeanisation through Securitisation: Discursive Framings of Europe and EU Values in Turkey

Democracy
Elites
European Union
Human Rights
Security
Domestic Politics
Seda Gurkan
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Seda Gurkan
Université Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract

Turkey's increasingly rapid de-europeanization process has attracted considerable scholarly attention since until very recently Turkey could sufficiently meet EU's political criteria. While several scholars focused on studying the reasons why Turkey has distanced from the EU, the strategies used by the political elite in turning away from the EU have largely remained understudied. This paper explores how Turkish political elite justified Turkey's drifting away from the EU and EU values, including democracy, rule of law and media freedom. In this respect, the paper aims to shed light on the daily domestic constructions and discursive framings of Europe and EU values in Turkey between 2011 and 2017, a period characterized by the erosion of European values in Turkey and the distancing of Turkish society and politics from the EU and its value/norm system. Drawing on the Copenhagen school, the paper argues that the ruling elite has successfully securitized fundamental EU values and the EU itself by (re-)framing the EU and the values it represents as 'enemies' of or a 'threat' to Turkish state. The paper traces how this new labeling (securitizing speech act by the ruling elite) justified extraordinary measures, including an accelerated de-Europeanization process. These arguments are proved through theoretically guided (political elite) discourse analysis and process-tracing. The paper makes empirical contribution to the existing literature on securitization both by studying acts of securitization in an authoritarian context as an effective tool of legitimization, which reproduces the political order, and by investigating the consequences of these discursive constructions. Besides, the study contributes to the (de-)Europeanization literature by illustrating how Europe and its essential values are discursively re-constructed by the political elite in a failed case of Europeanization.