Zaman, Turkey
Oct 2 2005

42-Year Old EU Journey at Critical Crossroads
By ALI IHSAN AYDIN

Turkey's European Union (EU) journey began with the Ankara agreement
signed in 1963. If accession negotiations begin on October 3, the
long period of "promise for marriage" without engagement will finally
be concluded.

The engagement period, which is predicted to last 10 to 15 years,
will begin, but no one knows whether this process will end in
marriage. Ankara says, "Let's not water down business from the start;
engagement is for marriage." EU is confused. It wants to insert the
condition, "Let's remain friends if we do not marry" to the treaty.

The relations were frozen following the coup

Turkey, which preferred to stand with the West in regards to its
foreign policy following the World War II by becoming a member of the
European Council in 1949 and of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) in 1952, applied to the European Economic
Community (EEC) for membership in 1959, during the premiership of
Adnan Menderes.

The EEC accepted the membership applications of Ankara and Athens in
the same year. The Ankara treaty, which is considered to be the
starting point of Turkey-EU relations, was signed three years later,
in 1963.

The Treaty, seen as a mark of Europe's positive answer towards
Turkey's marriage offer, envisaged a three-staged process of
preparation, transition and conclusion. Turkey would become a member
of the EEC only after passing through these stages.

Turkey could complete the transition period, which began with the
Value Added Protocol signed in 1973, with a 10 years delay, in 1995.

According to the Ankara Agreement, the transition period could last
up to 12 years. The relations with the EEC followed a path with ups
and downs bearing on the political developments in Turkey. EEC
decided to freeze its relations with Turkey on 22 January 1982,
following the military coup in Turkey.

Ozal's demand satisfied in 1999


In the meantime, Greece, which had applied for EEC membership
together with Turkey in 1959, obtained full membership in 1981.

Three years before Greece was accepted, EEC called Turkey to
immediately file an application for full membership. However, Bulent
Ecevit, the Prime Minister of the period, declined the offer,
addressing the EEC representative who came to communicate the
invitation with: "We do not think to enter the EEC. For, if we enter
the EEC we will become your market. Our economy cannot stand this
partnership."

Ankara made its application to the union for full membership in 1987
during the prime ministry of Turgut Ozal. However, the European
Commission (EC) rejected Turkey's application in 1989 on the grounds
that the EEC could not accept it as a new member until it created its
own internal market.

Turkey continued to knock on EU's door in the following years and
accomplished the 22 year period of transition on its way towards the
EU with the Customs Union Agreement in 1995 and started the final
period. The only target forTurkey from then on has been full
membership, which was also a target in the Ankara Agreement.

Turkey's manner reflected

The EU announced Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria,
Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Greek Cyprus as candidate
countries in the summit of presidents and the prime ministers in
Luxembourg in 1997. However, it did not give the candidacy status to
Turkey. In the summit, it simply noted Turkey was able to become a
candidate. As a response to this decision, Ankara suspended its
political relations with the EU.

The EU summit on 10-11 December 1999 in Helsinki started a new period
for EU-Turkey relations.

Turkey was accepted as a candidate in the summit. However, it is
noted that there were several reforms that Turkey had to accomplish
before becoming a member of the EU. Turkey started an expansive
reform process after the summit in order to accomplish the EU
criteria and has been continuing this process ever since. The
coalition government under the prime ministry of Ecevit abolished the
death penalty in 2002 as a historic step towards the EU. The
Copenhagen Summit on 12-13 December 2002 moved Turkey closer to the
EU. The council finally decided that negotiations would start without
any delays if Turkey accomplished the Copenhagen political criteria
by the December 2004 Summit. The Summit also decided that 10 new
candidates including Greek Cyprus would be members of the EU on 1 May
2004. As Greek Cyprus became a member of the EU, the, principle that
countries with boundary problems cannot be members of the EU was
violated.

December 17: Maddening night

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, that took office
in November 2002, showed great determination in the EU proccess and
passed the reform packages, which enabled Turkey to accomplish the
Copenhagen Criteria.. The European Commission noted on 6 October 2004
that Turkey fulfilled the political criteria and advised that the
negotiations should start.

The European Council (EC) decided on 17 December 2004 in Brussels on
the recommendation of the Commission that Turkey's full-membership
negotiations should begin on 3 October 2005. The Council, however,
stipulated that Turkey must sign the Additional Protocol, which
extends the Customs Union Agreement to the new ten countries
including Greek Cypriots. The summit saw some crisis for a while due
to the fact that some members tried to win further concessions from
Turkey. The Turkish group, under the leadership of Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, set forth their final opinion in
scathing terms and left the room. British Prime Minister Tony Blair
managed to convince Erdogan to return to the meeting.

Last minute again, war of nerves again

Turkey signed the Additional Protocol on 29 July 2005, which
stipulated that the Customs Union should cover the 10 new European
Union (EU) member countries. Ankara issued a declaration saying that
the signing of the protocol does not mean the recognition of the
Greek Cypriots. As France showed a huge reaction to the declaration,
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin just emphasized the need
for Turkey to recognize the Greek Cypriots in order to be part of the
EU. The European Council did not, however, specify that Turkey's
recognition of the Greek Cypriots was a prerequisite for the
negotiations, but the pressure on Turkey just began to increase. The
EU decided to publish a "counter declaration" in response to Turkey's
refusal to acknowledge the Greek Cypriots. The EU member countries
had difficulty in reaching an absolute agreement about the counter
declaration, which specifies that Turkey should allow the Greek
Cypriots to use airports and seaports. Twenty-five EU member
countries were also unable to reach a definite agreement on "The
Framework Document", which is intended to be a set of specifications
of the negotiations. The reason for the lack of agreement between
these countries resulted from Austria's proposal of privileged
partnership. It is argued that Austria intended this proposal in
order to make it possible for Croatia to resume its previously
suspended negotiations. The EU Public Works Council will meet on
Sunday October 2 in Luxemburg to approve the Framework Document. The
document discloses that Turkey will not be eligible for a
full-membership before 2014 and the negotiations are open-ended.
Turkish officials refuse to go to Luxemburg as long as the content of
the Framework Document is unclear, adding that Turkey will not agree
to any option other than full-membership.

On the other hand, the EP took a decision at the general meeting on
September 28 in Luxemburg to postpone the approval of the Additional
Protocol to a later date, asking Turkey to acknowledge the so-called
'Armenian genocide'.