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Europeanization of Turkish Civil Society Organizations

Özge Zihnioğlu
Bahçesehir University
Özge Zihnioğlu
Bahçesehir University
Open Panel

Abstract

The EU endeavors to secure the active participation and increasing influence of the civil society organizations in the candidate countries in matters relating to the European integration, and hence the accession process. This is believed to assist the democratization process and accelerate the social transformation in the candidate country. It is for this purpose that EU provides various financial and technical support mechanisms and uses political instruments. This paper provides an assessment of the EU civil society policy in the Turkish context, highlights the pitfalls and forecasts the expected impact. Accordingly, this paper begins with an overview of the method used and the various instruments and mechanisms employed by this policy. This is followed by and assessment of how effective these instruments and mechanisms have been. In this respect, based on the thematic field analysis of structured in-depth interviews conducted with thirty seven civil society organizations in Turkey, this paper investigates how much these instruments and mechanism have met the expectations of the EU and highlights the discrepancies between the expectations and the achieved results. Finally, this paper establishes the specificities of Turkish civil society organizations stemming from the current socio-political environment as well as the historical baggage of state-society relations in Turkey and discusses how these specificities interact with the EU civil society policy in Turkish context.