The concept of “building resilience” in Turkey can be defined as improving the capacity of institutions and society to withstand and eventually seek to roll back a sustained challenge to democratic norms. From the perspective of Turkish society, the threat originates from the wide disparities in regional incomes that are themselves a by-product in the equally wide disparities in educational achievements and employable skills. Nevertheless, Turkish society retains important elements of resilience. This is the end result of a flawed and yet very real experience with multi-party democracy for over seven decades. At the same time Turkey is a failed accession state and the frustrations as well as the acrimony generated by this hapless state of affairs will have implications for any other EU engagement strategy with Ankara. It is therefore necessary to build the resilience action plan as a component of the formal Turkey–EU agenda, which is broader than the accession track. The soon-to-be-launched negotiations for the modernization of the EU–Turkey Customs Union provide a timely and useful option.

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This report was originally published by the International Affairs Institute.