It has been fourteen years since the negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the European Union (EU) were formally opened and the process has been bumpy to say the least. Whereas the European leaders were hopeful on the accession proceedings and praised then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a democratic reformer back in the early 2000s, diplomatic relations between Turkey and the EU have steadily eroded, especially since the heavy crackdown following a failed coup attempt in 2016.
The two-year state of emergency that followed the attempted coup was characterised by drastic measures. Emergency decrees resulted in mass arrests and dismissals of journalists, academics and other civil society representatives, as well as the shut down of large numbers of media institutions and NGOs. The vaguely formulated anti-terrorism laws that formed the basis of the measures enabled the government to target a wide range of individuals and eventually proved to be an effective tool to silence dissenting voices in Turkey. With thousands of dismissed professionals who cannot exercise their profession anymore, Turkish society in fact loses a powerful force that could contribute to democracy in the country.