April 11th, 2003


Turkey and the EU

This started as a post on eschwa, and I began to reply, but it became half news post, half meditation on searching the web, so I've ended up just posting this here. The question was whether or not Turkey would be joining the EU anytime soon.

Turkey's joining the EU is in a perma-stalled position:


Turkey can become EU member, say Danes
November 11 2002

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, said that Turkey could become a member of the EU under the same conditions as the other candidate countries.

On Friday, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is leading the discussions on the future shape of the EU, told a French newspaper that admitting Turkey as a member would spell the end of the EU.

Mr Giscard d'Estaing, a former French president, angered both Turkish and EU officials when he told Paris-based Le Monde that Turkey could not join the EU since most of its territory was in Asia.

"Turkey is a nation close to Europe and an important country ... but it is not a European country," he said, adding that the bloc should instead offer Ankara a co-operation agreement similar to the one offered to Ukraine.

"Its capital is not in Europe, 95 per cent of its population is outside Europe," he said.

But the Danish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, "At the summit in Helsinki in 1999, the Danish Government together with the other EU countries' governments decided to give Turkey a status as a candidate country. That decision has been made.

"That means that Turkey can become a member of the EU on the same conditions as the other candidate countries.

"When Turkey meets the political criteria, accession negotiations can begin, and when the country meets all criteria, it can become a member," it said.

"At the summit in Copenhagen in December the EU's heads of government decide on the next phase in Turkey's candidacy. The EU is currently preparing that decision," the ministry concluded.

There is a strong difference of views in the EU between those who believe Europe has an interest and a duty to embrace Turkey, and those who say the Muslim country's traditions and culture are too different for it to be allowed in.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said that Mr Giscard d'Estaing's views were "a long standing conviction ... but personal".

Turkey also rejected Mr Giscard d'Estaing's view and instead pointed to remarks from the European Commission in Brussels refuting it.

The EC - the EU's executive arm - said Turkey remained a candidate country and disagreed with Mr Giscard d'Estaing's statement.

"The statements from commission officials are in line with our views," said a foreign ministry official who asked not to be named.

"We are working towards that end," said the official, referring to EU membership. "It's not because someone has made such statements that we will deviate from our goal."

Asked whether Turkey's entry into the EU would destroy it, EC spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori said: "The answer is no."

EU leaders are expected at a summit in Copenhagen next month to formally invite 10 eastern European and Mediterranean countries - including the divided island of Cyprus - to join the EU in 2004. The summit will take place on December 12 and 13.

I started tracking down that date to find out the results of the summit. In looking at http://www.turkey.com/news/ (Your Window on Turkey) a search on EU bombs out as a configuration error - and there is notably no "Politics" section alongside the existing sections, such as "Business", "Community", and "Sports".

A search on About.com was complicated by the confusion with Turkey the bird, for which "the best of all is Butterball". I discovered past Turkeys - Tactics for Recalcitrant Toms and any number of sites dedicated to Tourism in Turkey, I found the Turkish embassy in the US site, where I found a page showing Turkish news press releases mentioning the EU conference beginning on 12/13/2002 and then later mentioning on 12/16/2002 that "At that meeting, the EU resolved to make a decision during its December 2004 summit on giving Turkey a date for accession talks."

So I guess the answer is at least a year, and it looks as though the wheels of the EU grind exceedingly fine and slowly. At this point, I went to the EU site itself and started poking.

Here is the 12/2002 Bulletin of the EU, which says on Turkey:

I.6. 18. The European Council recalls its decision in 1999 in Helsinki that Turkey is a candidate State destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other candidate States. It strongly welcomes the important steps taken by Turkey towards meeting the Copenhagen criteria, in particular through the recent legislative packages and the subsequent implementation measures which cover a large number of key priorities specified in the Accession Partnership. The Union acknowledges the determination of the new Turkish Government to take further steps on the path of reform and urges the government in particular to address swiftly all remaining shortcomings in the field of the political criteria, not only with regard to legislation but also in particular with regard to implementation. The Union recalls that, according to the political criteria decided in Copenhagen in 1993, membership requires a candidate country to have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.

19. The Union encourages Turkey to pursue energetically its reform process. If the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay.

20. In order to assist Turkey towards EU membership, the accession strategy for Turkey shall be strengthened. The Commission is invited to submit a proposal for a revised Accession Partnership and to intensify the process of legislative scrutiny. In parallel, the EC-Turkey Customs Union should be extended and deepened. The Union will significantly increase its pre-accession financial assistance for Turkey. This assistance will from 2004 be financed under the budget heading 'pre-accession expenditure'.

21. The European Union and the acceding States agreed on a joint declaration 'One Europe' on the continuous, inclusive and irreversible nature of the enlargement process (see document SN 369/02), which will be annexed to the final act of the Accession Treaty.