MEDITERRANEAN POLICY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AFTER THE ARAB SPRING: IS EUROPE'S NORMATIVE POWER AT STAKE?

Süleyman AKSOY

Abstract


     Arab Spring has been one of the most important democratization movements affecting the Middle East and North Africa. Being caught off guard like many other global actors, European Union tried to change its foreign policy towards the region. Supporting nepotist governments in MENA for the sake of stability for many years, EU started to import instability let alone promoting democracy to the region. Toppling down of the many authoritarian leaders during Arab Spring lead up to a power vacuum which still could not be filled. The fuse of “Post-Modern Cold War” was ignited as global actors were trying to expand their zones of influence through proxy wars in the Middle East.
      Refugee crisis breaking out as a result of ongoing conflicts and civil wars in the region posed unprecedented security challanges that Europe has ever faced with. Tragic and barbaric terrorist events taking place in France steered EU to prioritze security concerns of the continent over its core values like democracy building, protection of human rights etc. Problems emerging in the coordination and management of illegal migration and asylum seeking procedures between European countries caused cracks in Schengen area, one of the four cornerstones of EU’s Common Market system. Securitization of refugee problems via political discourse lead to the rise of radical right-wing parties which might put self-existance of EU under jeopardy, let alone further integration. As EU was not able to develop a consistent foreign policy during Arab Spring, its credibility was also started to be questioned as a global actor.
      The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effects of Arab Spring on one of the most important foreign policy instruments of EU, namely Mediterranean Policy. Deficiencies and factors undermining the Mediterranean Policy of EU will be analyzed within the perspective of latest events taking place in MENA region. In addition to such analysis, inferences will be made with regards to the roadmap that should be followed by EU in order to establish stability in the region.
Key Words: EU, Securitization, Mediterranean Policy, Arab Spring


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