Rethinking Conditionality: Turkey's European Union Accession and the Kurdish Question


  • We are grateful to the participants of the Thirteenth Mediterranean Research Meeting, Workshop on Political and Constitutional Accommodation of Ethno-Linguistic Conflicts in Southern Europe, in particular workshop organizers Nikos Skoutaris and Elias Dinas, as well as the anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions and feedback. All remaining errors are ours.


Firat Cengiz

School of Law and Social Justice

University of Liverpool

Rendall Building

Liverpool L69 7WW

United Kingdom



This article assesses the recent developments in the Turkish democratic reform processes, particularly those affecting the Kurdish minority, induced by Turkey's ambition to accede to the European Union (EU). The analysis is rooted in the Europeanization literature, specifically the external incentives model. In addition to providing a systematic review of recent political developments in this area, the analysis leads us to question some of the model's basic premises. Most notably, it is found that credible EU commitment, rather than low adoption costs and weak veto players, has constituted a necessary and sufficient condition for the reform process. Likewise, there is a dynamic relationship between EU-induced democratic reforms and adoption costs that is largely overlooked in the existing literature.