‘A Torn Country’: Deconstructing the Debates Surrounding the Turkish Accession to European Union through the Prism of the Myth of ‘The Clash Of Civilizations’ (2002-2005)

  • Abstract:

    This paper aims at analysing the debates surrounding the possible Turkish accession to the European Union. The officialization of the candidacy of this Muslim-majority state in 1999 has been passionately debated since the early 2000s in the media as well as in political and academic circles within the EU member states. In order to identify the different aspects of this debate, the period from September 2002 to December 2005 will be privileged. This timeframe goes from the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the European Summit of Luxembourg, which led to the opening of the negotiations on Turkey’s membership of the European Union. Within a geopolitical context marked by an increased instrumentalization of religious and ethnical factors in the understanding of world affairs, my goal is to understand how press articles construct the current events of EU when it is confronted with a country which profoundly challenges its identity. In that respect, the main paradigms referred to by two internationally diffused European newspapers: Le Monde and The Guardian will be deconstructed. Based on the theory developed by Chiara Bottici and Benoît Challand in their book, The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (2010), my hypothesis is that this event of the European integration is constructed by the press, in symbiosis with the European Union’s representatives, as a readapted variant of the political myth constituted by the thesis of Samuel P. Huntington. In other words, the Turkish candidacy is presented as an opportunity to westernize the Islamic civilisation (i.e. Turkey) through European democracy standards in order to avoid a clash between the West and the Muslim world.