Dr. Petros Violakis, KEDISA’s Research Director, presented his research “Turkey’s Post-Candidacy Era: Erdogan’s Anachronism” at the International Conference held by the Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University of Peloponnese titled “The EU and the Balkans at the End of the Second Decade of the 21st Century”, Corinth, 4-5 June 2018.
The April 16th, 2017 was a milestone for Turkey. Turkish citizens were called to decide through referendum (The Guardian, 2017) whether presidential powers should be enhanced or not. President Erdogan’s campaign and rhetoric (Asderaki et al., 2016), favouring this enhancement, brought to the fore significant reforms in Turkey, which have been initiated already from the early 2000s. President Erdogan’s rhetoric during his campaign reached unusual levels of polarisation with the EU. In one of his speeches, Erdogan noted that “Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely” if they kept up their current attitude towards Turkey (Toksabay and Gumrukcu, 2017; Naftemporiki, 2017). This argument resulted to the European Commission to summon the Turkish ambassador to explain these comments (Reuters, 2017). The fact that this rhetoric is also linked with significant reforms within Turkey indicates that these comments are only the tip of the iceberg. This paper, examines Erdogan’s rhetoric and reforms, under the prism of Europeanisation theories. For the purpose of the analysis, this paper also examines whether these reforms are in line with the European values or indicate the existence of a new course related to the re-establishment of the bygone Ottoman glory which leads Turkey to a pro-Tanzimat situation where the legal system is based completely on Sharia.