The lack of European credentials which maintain Turkey as a perpetual outsider is a familiar motif in the literature on EU enlargement. Yet the picture of Turkey painted in these accounts is frequently inaccurate and does little to dispel the cliché that Turkey is a bridge between East and West, an unfortunate location which implies that Turkey can never truly become ‘one of us’. However, the inaccuracy of accounts built upon these foundations cannot simply be explained by the way Turkey is positioned (or positions itself) vis-à-vis the EU. Although there are many failings in existing accounts of Turkey’s faltering attempts to join the ‘EU club’ over the past 50 years, deriving from essentialist views of Turkish identity and/or simplistic civilisational histories, a bigger problem is to be found in overly optimistic characterisations of the EU and its relationship with its near abroad and the rest of the world, coupled with clichéd approaches to the dynamics of Turkish politics.