This study aims to situate contemporary debates on the EU-Turkey relations in a broader historical context. It argues that understanding from where current narratives come and identifying their constituents, and particularly the narrators’ mutual perceptions on each other, which have endured through decades or even centuries, contributes to a deeper understanding of the relationship in critical ways. The paper is based on the results of two historically oriented studies carried out within the framework of the FEUTURE project -a narrative analysis as well as an analysis of identity representations since the 19thcentury- both of which adopted a comparative approach by analysing European and Turkish sources. Among others, the paper asserts that the EU and Turkey, both historically and in the present, have been important for each other in their identity construction. It argues that one of the most defining characteristics of the narratives and identities over time is their changing nature. The paper finds that narratives and identity construction processes also intertwined also with drivers at different levels, by the respective historical and political context. From a contemporary perspective, it finds that narratives on both sides have become more conflictual and that relations are likely to be dominated by conflictual elements also in the nearer future. This is, however, coupled with a constantly present conviction of the importance of Turkey for Europe and vice versa.
Authors: Ebru Ece Özbey, Hanna-Lisa Hauge, Bahar Rumelili, Atila Eralp
Date: March 2019