Critical Discourse Analysis Of A News Report Regarding The Stall In Turkey’s Eu Process

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Alaaddin F. Paksoy


ritical discourse analysis has three dimensions, which are “text, discursive practice and social practise” (Jensen, Klaus Bruhn, 2002: 106). In order to understand these dimensions better, a news report was examined with the methodological tools of critical discourse analysis for this essay.


The news report (attached at the end of this article) was published in Turkish Daily News, a Turkish daily in English, on 19th December 2006 by Washington correspondent Ümit Enginsoy. The main topic of the report deals with the possible problems for Turkey if its relations with the European Union become  worse.


The main research questions of this analysis are:

1-      Which reasons did the writer depict as the fundamental of stall?

2-     What kind of coherences, presuppositions, disclaimers, modalities, lexical processes did the writer use?

3-     How did the writer reflect the polarisation between Turkey and the EU?


The headline of the report is : “Stall in EU process to hit Turkish domestic politics, report says”. The location of words in the sentence firstly emphasises the problem, the stall in the relation between 2 parts. The verb “hit” gives a polarisation remark in the beginning of the report and reader can easily understand that something happened seriously bad between 2 parts. The given information in the headline was predicated to a report and that makes the persuasiveness level of the report higher. Hence this pre-information may affect the later readings of reader in the text.


The lead of the article can be interpreted as a “disclaimer” construction. Because firstly it commented “an army revolution” possibility in Turkey as an exaggeration, but then it connected situation to an “internal strife” which may be happened by problematic relations with the EU. The source, CSIS (Washington based think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies) report, was emphasised at the end of the lead.


The first, second and third paragraphs explained the reasons of why the relations has become problematic. The main reason was shown as “Turkey’s intransigent decisions about not to the open ports to Greek Cyprus”. Two important points should be argued here. Cyprus’ EU member position was reminded and “Cyprus” defined as “Greek Cyprus” which is common for Turkish newspapers (officially the name of the government is not Greek Cyprus in international level and it is impossible to see that categorical definition in other countries press).

The CSIS‘ latest Turkey Update report recalled that Erdoğan, when asked during a visit to New York in early October whether Turkey would “once again wake up to the sound of tanks,” said those days were over, because “Turkey is on the track to EU membership”. But now that EU process has been stalled.

In the 4th paragraph (above), Turkey’s democratic improvement reflected as something depended on good relations with the EU. Writer got support from CSIS report and the idea was legitimised with quote from the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


The 5th paragraph consists of a long quote from CSIS report. Report says “Turkey has had 4 coups in the last 5 decades”. Indeed the number of coups in Turkey are not clear as the reports reflected and it is a discussion between political scientists. Because the last clash between army and parliament was happened in 1997 and it is not defined as coup by some political scientist and analyst due to the fact that army forces did not get the majority like in the former coups. The most interesting definition in that paragraph should be “in a country prone to such problems…”. Coups were shown like a regular phenomenon in Turkey and it nominalized in the context.


The 9th paragraph includes another coup possibility quote from another think-tank in USA. These ideas are quotes and may not reflect the writer’s ideology but he did not take any contrast quotes to that ideas. This quote selection can be a sign to understand writers point of views on this topic and can be evaluated in “absences” tool of discourse analysis.


The 10th paragraph indicates some recommendations via CSIS report. Like in the Gadhafi example of  Van Dijk (Bell, Allan & Peter Garrett, 1998:57), this paragraph also based on norms and values and a political opinion: “USA should re-think its politics against Turkey, if something changes rapidly”.


The paragraph 12th brings a new dimension to discussion and it related EU process stall to Turkish economy. So, according to the article, a Turkey without EU perspective, can become an army-headed and poor country with that presuppositions. In that point Van Dijk’s (Bell, Allan & Peter Garrett, 1998:33) positive ingroup description and negative outgroup description can be expressed. It was reflected like a common sense. Also a global coherence can be found in that part of the article when it attributed the former economic crisis of Turkey to make the idea of the paragraph much stronger.


According to Van Dijk (Bell, Allan & Peter Garrett, 1998:21), opinions and ideologies include some beliefs or mental representations, because of that readers may first have a cognitive perspective. Also ideologies and opinions of newspapers are usually not personal, they are social, institutional and political. With using their former information, readers can add new infos to their opinions by those kind of political articles. This news report represented the EU as an only prosperity solution for Turkey and supported that idea with the help of quotes from think-tank institutions and experts. It can of course affect the Turkish readers but this article published in an English newspaper of Turkey which generally has foreign high class, well educated readers. Hence by means of this article, foreign readers’ opinions can be shaped by that discourse which is surrounded by the terms coup, economy and the EU.




Bell, Allan & Peter Garrett (1998) Approaches to Media Discourse, Oxford: Blackwell.

Jensen, Klaus Bruhn (ed) (2002) A Handbook of Media and Communication Research.

London: Routledge.




Stall in EU process to hit Turkish domestic politics, report says

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Published on:

While claiming that Turkey is on verge of another coup is gross exaggeration, a slowdown in the EU process may lead to internal strife, according to CSIS report

WASHINGTON – Turkish Daily News

  A move by European Union leaders last week not to open talks on eight negotiating chapters with Ankara increased the risk of internal political strife in Turkey as the country gears up for two key elections next year, a report by the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said yesterday.

  The European Council, the EU’s top decision-making body, last Friday agreed to back the partial freeze of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations until Ankara opens its ports to trade from Greek Cyprus, an EU member.

  The decision came as Turkey’s military publicly blasted a last-minute offer by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government — that Turkey might be willing to open two ports to Greek Cypriot traffic unconditionally — as “a deviation from state policy.”

  The CSIS‘ latest Turkey Update report recalled that Erdoğan, when asked during a visit to New York in early October whether Turkey would “once again wake up to the sound of tanks,” said those days were over, because “Turkey is on the track to EU membership.”

  But now that EU process has been stalled.

  “While it would be a gross exaggeration to claim that the country, which has witnessed four coups in the past five decades, is once again on the verge of another interruption of the democratic process, it would be a mistake to ignore the increased risks of internal strife with the stalling of the EU process in a country prone to such problems,” said the CSIS report, penned by Bülent Alirıza, director of the think tank’s Turkey Project.

  “With the focus inevitably shifting from the EU to domestic politics and the intensification of what is being characterized by the Turkish press as ‘the Cankaya war’ over the election of a new president in April, the dynamics are undeniably shifting,” it said.

  Following the presidential vote in Parliament to replace Ahmet Necdet Sezer in the spring, national legislative elections have been scheduled for November.

  Erdoğan has not announced whether or not he will stand as a presidential candidate, but frequently criticizing the government and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for allegedly undermining secularism, the military is believed to be opposing his election as head of state.

  “It remains to be seen if the other political parties, who are demanding early parliamentary elections to enable a new [Parliament] to choose Sezer’s replacement, will be able to muster a serious challenge to the [AKP] and its leader with the charismatic and populist touch that their own leaders lack after four years of mostly ineffective opposition or [the military] itself will find it necessary or prudent to participate in efforts to fill the void.” A debate over “the possibility of a military coup” was prompted by an article by Zeyno Baran, a Turkey specialist at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank here, that appeared in the international edition of Newsweek late last month. Baran said another coup was possible next year at a time when the military was deeply concerned over secularism.

  The CSIS report said the United States may have to devise a new strategy for Turkey in light of the worsening EU-Turkish relationship. “If the current EU-Turkish estrangement does not prove to be transient and is accompanied by serious domestic tensions in Turkey, the United States may have to fashion a revised framework for a relationship with this important country sooner rather than later,” it said.

  “Given the fact that Erdogan made a point of calling the U.S. president to seek reaffirmation of U.S. support for Turkish membership just as the EU was moving towards its decision on Turkey and [Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Yaşar] Büyükanıt is due to make an official visit to Washington in February, the Turks themselves seem determined to keep Turkey on the American agenda,” the report said.

  The CSIS report said that the EU process stalling and its repercussions in Turkish domestic politics also could badly affect the economy, which is still recovering from the country’s worst post-World War II financial crisis in 2001.

  “With the recent slowing down of the rate of growth and continuing concerns over Turkey’s ability to manage its alarmingly high current account deficit, [AKP] success may ultimately depend on the reaction of the international financial community to the slowdown of the train to Europe and its domestic implications,” it said.


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