Turkısh Foreıgn Polıcy 1 Dersi 5. Ünite Özet

09.08.2022
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Turkish Foreign Policy And The Politics Of Europeanization, 1990-2007

Açıköğretim ders notları öğrenciler tarafından ders çalışma esnasında hazırlanmakta olup diğer ders çalışacak öğrenciler için paylaşılmaktadır. Sizlerde hazırladığınız ders notlarını paylaşmak istiyorsanız bizlere iletebilirsiniz.

Açıköğretim derslerinden Turkısh Foreıgn Polıcy 1 Dersi 5. Ünite Özet için hazırlanan  ders çalışma dokümanına (ders özeti / sorularla öğrenelim) aşağıdan erişebilirsiniz. AÖF Ders Notları ile sınavlara çok daha etkili bir şekilde çalışabilirsiniz. Sınavlarınızda başarılar dileriz.

Turkish Foreign Policy And The Politics Of Europeanization, 1990-2007

Turkish-EU Relations in the Post-Cold War Context

Turkey’s EU odyssey is perceived as part of both the country’s long-run mission and the modernization process. Since the 19th century, modernization for Turkey has been synonymous with Westernization, which can be conceptualized as economic and political convergence to Western legal-institutional structures. The process of Westernization accelerated in the post-World War II era when Turkey began to take part in post-war institutions including NATO, the OECD, and the World Bank. In line with this vision, various Turkish governments declared that Turkey’s European Economic Community (EEC) membership would provide required incentives and leverage for the modernization of the country.

By expressing its interest and willingness to become a member of the EEC, Turkey made an official application to the organization in 1959. Upon Turkey’s application, an Association Agreement, which was named the “Ankara Agreement,” was signed in 1963. With an additional protocol signed in 1970, Turkish- European relations became stronger. The Protocol foresaw the achievement of economic integration and targeted establishing a customs union in three stages by the end of 1995. The 1980 military take-over in Turkey had been the most significant factor that affected Turkey’s relations with the EEC in the early 1980s. Due to domestic political reasons in Turkey, the EEC partly suspended its relations with Turkey. With the strengthening of civilian political structures in the mid1980s, however, Turkish-European relations revitalized. In April 1987, following the Mediterranean enlargement of the Community, the Özal government applied for full membership on the basis of Article 237 of the Rome Treaty. In the eyes of Turkish political elites, Turkey’s EEC membership would contribute to the political development in the country and facilitate Turkey’s economic integration with the outer world.

The Commission’s Opinion on Turkey’s bid for full membership caused a new wave of distrust in Turkey concerning its relations with the EC. The Opinion alienated the Turkish public opinion, for the EC had not reciprocated Turkey’s determination and endeavor to become a member of the organization. During the 1990s, the member countries of the EC had a common position toward Turkey: they would not make any commitment for the future and would not accelerate the integration process with Turkey. In this sense, until the 1999 Helsinki European Council, the European Community continued its relations with Turkey in the framework of establishing a customs union. These diverging positions poisoned the already strained relations between Turkey and the Community during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

The Community’s strategy toward Turkey followed a continuous pattern: partial and conditional concessions, but without making any further commitment for full membership, to avoid any estrangement in strategic relations.

The introduction of the customs-union regime in Turkey in 1995 may be considered as a sign of this strategy. Therefore, as opposed to Turkey’s approach, the EC did not treat the customs union as part of a pre-accession strategy. Rather the customs union was an end in itself or an instrument for the EC for further economic cooperation with Turkey. In addition, “it is worth noting that while the EEC was negotiating the completion of the CU with Turkey, it had already started its next wave of enlargement to include the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe”. The Union’s different attitude toward former Communist Central and Eastern European Countries’ membership applications, which were almost synchronous with Turkey, illustrated that the option of a privileged partnership status for Turkey was on the table even in the early 1990s.

In December 1991, during the Maastricht Intergovernmental Conference, the heads of state and government of the Community member states agreed on introducing a monetary union as well as some other significant reforms in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy (the CFSP) and certain issues under Justice and Home Affairs. The Maastricht Treaty, known as the Treaty on the European Union, was finally signed in February 1992, which entered into force in late 1993. The organization of “European Union” owes its name and its political status to the Maastricht Treaty. This treaty also defined the key principles of and the institutional framework for the CFSP that would become the third pillar of the European Union.

From the Luxembourg Summit to the Helsinki Summit: Explaining the Ups and Downs in Turkish-EU Relations

The Agenda 2000 revealed the EU’s pre-accession strategy and it reiterated possible contribution of an enlarged EU to regional peace and security. About the status of Turkey, the Agenda 2000 pointed out that Turkey would be treated by the same standards and criteria as other applicants and that Turkey was eligible for EU membership. Yet there were serious economic and political disparities between the EU member countries and Turkey at the time. While CEECs and the Southern Cyprus Administration were declared as the countries that would be included in the coming enlargement round, the completion of a customs union with Turkey was underlined as an important step that would support further dialogue between Turkey and the EU.

The Agenda 2000 was fully adopted in the December 1997 Luxembourg European Council. The Council reaffirmed the pre-accession strategy framed in the Agenda 2000 and decided to launch the accession process with Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and the so-called “Republic of Cyprus.” With regard to the state of relations with Turkey, the Council declared that bilateral relations were dependent on the political and economic liberalization of the country and Turkey’s positive efforts concerning a political settlement of ongoing border disputes with Greece and peaceful resolution of the Cyprus conflict under the UN aegis.

At the Helsinki European Council meeting held in December 1999, Turkey was officially declared as a candidate destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to other candidate states. Turkey would also benefit from the pre-accession strategy like other candidate countries. Turkey would have access to EU pre-accession programs and institutional arrangements. Moreover, Turkey would benefit from financial aid packages to improve its technical and institutional structure. The Council urged the Commission to prepare an accession partnership document that would specify principles, objectives, priorities, and conditions for harmonizing Turkish legislation with the EU acquis.

After years of stagnation, the Helsinki European Council conclusions marked the beginning of golden years (1999- 2005) in Turkish-EU relations. The EU leverage triggered reforms in domestic politics and it led to fundamental changes in Turkey’s discourse and attitude vis-à-vis longrun foreign policy issues. Before discussing post-Helsinki developments, it would be useful to review the EU’s changing perception toward Turkey between the Luxembourg and the Helsinki Summits.

The Changing Security Environment: In the early postCold War era, as the threat from the Soviet bloc disappeared Turkey’s strategic importance for the West also began to be questioned. Yet this skepticism turned out to be not well founded because of a rapid change in the post-Cold War security environment. The ethnic clashes in the Balkans in the early 1990s heralded a new security environment in which the regional security threats were becoming transnationalized. The European Union began to better appreciate the role of enhanced relations with strategic partners to manage regional security challenges. Turkey’s strategic position, which had been a crucial asset for the West during the Cold War years, became important in the light of regional developments. The position of Turkey as a bridge between the East and the West as well as Turkey’s impact on regional politics would contribute to the CFSP.

Turkish-Greek Relations: Greece became a full member of the EC in 1981. This added a new dimension to the EC’s attitude toward Turkey’s membership. The use of veto power by Greece over the issues related to Turkey became an important game changer. In the 1980s, the Greek governments adopted a strategy of internationalizing its disputes with Turkey such as the Cyprus conflict and the disputes in the Mediterranean and the Aegean to promote its national interests. According to Greek political elites, the EU membership was an important platform to mitigate regional conflicts in its neighborhood, balance Turkey’s power as well as enforce Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to make concessions toward a settlement in Cyprus. Unanimity principle in the voting procedure strengthened Greece’s hand with a veto power over Turkey’s further attempts for EU accession.

The Cyprus Issue: The ever-increasing integration between the so-called Republic of Cyprus and the EU in the late 1990s became a source of tension between Turkish foreign policy makers and their European counterparts. Although in the early 1990s, the EU adopted an evenhanded approach toward the Cyprus issue in order to preserve the balance between Turkey and Cyprus, with Greece’s strategy to link Turkey’s EU accession process to the resolution of the Cyprus conflict, the EU’s involvement in the conflict damaged its credibility as a non-belligerent actor and an objective broker. The Greek Cypriot government during the Presidency of Vassiliou applied for the full EC membership in July 1990. The EC hesitated to take a quick decision due to the fact that the Union’s priority was the conclusion of the Maastricht Treaty (the European deepening process) and the northern enlargement. Additionally, the de facto division of the island was a serious concern for the EC. However, in this phase of the EC involvement in the Cyprus issue, the EC kept its “disinterested third-party position”.

Post-Helsinki Relations: A New Page in Turkish-EU Relations

The 1999 Helsinki European Council decisions on Turkey’s candidacy breathed new life into Turkey’s EU aspirations. In order to manage the process of EU harmonization, the Turkey-EU Association Council meeting, held in April 2000, published an Accession Partnership Document. The document aimed to set the principles, conditions, short-run objectives and timetables to organize and monitor Turkey’s EU harmonization process. In line with the Accession Partnership Document, the Turkish government published a National Program, which reaffirmed that the Turkish government would work on adopting the EU acquis. In fact, the Turkish government adopted a comprehensive constitutional amendment in October 2001.

Turkish policy makers in the early 2000s acknowledged that the ongoing foreign policy issues, especially the Cyprus conflict, would pose a challenge to the Turkey’s accession process. In 2001 such developments as the probability of the Cyprus’s EU access, Greece’s threat to vote the eastern enlargement without the Cyprus’s integration and strong international leverage on Turkey to reformulate its Cyprus policy pushed Ankara to reconsider its Cyprus strategy. Gradually it also became obvious that Cyprus would be an EU member state in the next round of EU enlargement. This demonstrated that Ankara’s strategy to persuade the EU to accept Turkey’s position that Turkey’s EU membership and Cyprus conflict were two different issues and Cypriot accession had to be postponed pending on a viable and just settlement bore no fruits. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership took a new step to revitalize direct negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus question before 2004. In November 2001, the head of the TRNC, Rauf Denktaş, invited the head of the Greek Cypriot Administration Glafkos Clerides to face-to-face meetings without any preconditions.

An agreement was reached to resume the negotiation talks starting in January 2002. The two leaders agreed on all issues that would be on the negotiation table. This meant that nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed; parties were to continue to negotiate until a comprehensive settlement was reached. However, the meetings continued until mid-February 2002 without reaching any common ground on sensitive issues including territory, sovereignty, governance, and security. On May 14, 2002, the UN Secretary General and Kofi Annan visited both sides and expressed his belief that there would be a significant progress until the end of June 2002. At this point, the UN timetable to reach a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question was attached to the delicate EU enlargement agenda and the ultimate objective of the early 2002 talks was to reach a settlement before or at the Copenhagen European Council on December 12-13, 2002.

The most dramatic change took place in the area of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). In 2003, Turkey began to contribute to the EU-led military operations under the ESDP. The EU members and NATO members by signing the Berlin Plus Agreement in early 2003 had proposed close cooperation and dialogue between the EU and NATO in international crises. The EU now might use NATO’s military assets toward managing international crises. Accordingly, Turkey lifted its veto regarding the use of the NATO assets by the EU and started actively contributing to the development of the ESDP and ESDP crisis operations in the Balkans.

Accession Negotiations and the Additional Protocol Crisis

In December 2002, the European Copenhagen Council declared that the so-called Republic of Cyprus had concluded accession negotiations with the EU together with other nine candidate countries and it would become an EU member state on May 1, 2004. This meant that the solution of the Cyprus conflict was not a precondition any longer for Cyprus to become a full EU member. Regarding Turkey’s progress toward the EU membership, the Council welcomed the determination of the Turkish government to take further steps to meet the Copenhagen criteria. However, rather than offering an early date for the start of accession negotiations, the Council stated “if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay”. As such, Turkey did not get a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU. Despite its diplomatic contacts and lobbying, even the second best option for Ankara (to get a date for the date to start accession negotiations) did not get realized.

Upon Turkey’s declaration, the EU issued a counter declaration stating that “The European Community and its Member States make clear that this declaration by Turkey is unilateral, does not form part of the Protocol and has no legal effect on Turkey’s obligations under the Protocol”. In the meantime, the EU reiterated that the opening of negotiations on the relevant chapters depended on Turkey’s implementation of its contractual obligations and the failure to fulfill its obligations in full was to affect the overall negotiation process. Another critical statement of the EU was about the recognition of the so-called Republic of Cyprus. The EU stressed that members of the EU recognized only “the Cyprus Republic as a subject of international law.” The Union also underlined that the recognition of Cyprus and the normalization of Turkey’s relations with all member states was a component of the accession process.

In the post-2006 era, the Cyprus conflict had repercussions on Turkey’s EU accession negotiation process. Although the suspension of negotiation in eight chapters did not seriously damage Turkish- EU relations, it further strained bilateral relations because of the effect of the Cyprus conflict on the Turkey’s accession process. While the deadline by which Turkey had to implement the Additional Protocol was approaching, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership increased their pressure and urged the UN Secretary-General to increase his leverage on the Greek Cypriots to speed up the process of intercommunal negotiations on the island. At this juncture, Turkey gained a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2008-2010. This raised the expectations that Turkey through its UN Security Council membership would have an opportunity to inflict more pressure on the Greek Cypriots and that the balance might change in favor of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community. However, Turkey’s UN Security Council membership was not that effective in mobilizing the UN to end the isolation of the TRNC.

Turkish European circles, Turkey’s population rate, economic and political level of development, level of Europeanness,” religious and cultural orientation as well as its geographical distance to Europe were main sources of anxiety. On the other hand, for pro-Turkish circles in the EU, Turkey was an indispensable strategic partner, a crucial regional power and an increasing economic actor whose membership would enrich the cultural diversity in the EU and provide the member states with a great opportunity to reach to the Islamic world. For the proponents of Turkey, opening the accession negotiations was a matter of reputation that would consolidate the credibility of the Union for further enlargement prospects. Yet, in the post-2005 era, the civil wars in Turkey’s close neighborhood posed a threat to Turkey’s EU accession process. The civil wars in Iraq and Syria and the destabilizing impacts of the Arab uprisings revived the long-lasting debates on stability at the borders of Europe.

Another aspect that had a critical impact on the Turkish governments’ approach to the EU is the diminishing public support for EU membership. The Euro-skepticism prevalent among the public is a reflection of the discontent of the Turkish people with respect to the EU’s dubious commitments for Turkey’s EU membership and, especially in post-2004 era, the Union’s non-fulfilment of its commitments to the Turkish Cypriot community. Under these circumstances, as skepticism became prevalent among the public, Turkish government tried to refrain from facing serious political costs in its EU harmonization process.

Turkish-EU Relations in the Post-Cold War Context

Turkey’s EU odyssey is perceived as part of both the country’s long-run mission and the modernization process. Since the 19th century, modernization for Turkey has been synonymous with Westernization, which can be conceptualized as economic and political convergence to Western legal-institutional structures. The process of Westernization accelerated in the post-World War II era when Turkey began to take part in post-war institutions including NATO, the OECD, and the World Bank. In line with this vision, various Turkish governments declared that Turkey’s European Economic Community (EEC) membership would provide required incentives and leverage for the modernization of the country.

By expressing its interest and willingness to become a member of the EEC, Turkey made an official application to the organization in 1959. Upon Turkey’s application, an Association Agreement, which was named the “Ankara Agreement,” was signed in 1963. With an additional protocol signed in 1970, Turkish- European relations became stronger. The Protocol foresaw the achievement of economic integration and targeted establishing a customs union in three stages by the end of 1995. The 1980 military take-over in Turkey had been the most significant factor that affected Turkey’s relations with the EEC in the early 1980s. Due to domestic political reasons in Turkey, the EEC partly suspended its relations with Turkey. With the strengthening of civilian political structures in the mid1980s, however, Turkish-European relations revitalized. In April 1987, following the Mediterranean enlargement of the Community, the Özal government applied for full membership on the basis of Article 237 of the Rome Treaty. In the eyes of Turkish political elites, Turkey’s EEC membership would contribute to the political development in the country and facilitate Turkey’s economic integration with the outer world.

The Commission’s Opinion on Turkey’s bid for full membership caused a new wave of distrust in Turkey concerning its relations with the EC. The Opinion alienated the Turkish public opinion, for the EC had not reciprocated Turkey’s determination and endeavor to become a member of the organization. During the 1990s, the member countries of the EC had a common position toward Turkey: they would not make any commitment for the future and would not accelerate the integration process with Turkey. In this sense, until the 1999 Helsinki European Council, the European Community continued its relations with Turkey in the framework of establishing a customs union. These diverging positions poisoned the already strained relations between Turkey and the Community during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

The Community’s strategy toward Turkey followed a continuous pattern: partial and conditional concessions, but without making any further commitment for full membership, to avoid any estrangement in strategic relations.

The introduction of the customs-union regime in Turkey in 1995 may be considered as a sign of this strategy. Therefore, as opposed to Turkey’s approach, the EC did not treat the customs union as part of a pre-accession strategy. Rather the customs union was an end in itself or an instrument for the EC for further economic cooperation with Turkey. In addition, “it is worth noting that while the EEC was negotiating the completion of the CU with Turkey, it had already started its next wave of enlargement to include the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe”. The Union’s different attitude toward former Communist Central and Eastern European Countries’ membership applications, which were almost synchronous with Turkey, illustrated that the option of a privileged partnership status for Turkey was on the table even in the early 1990s.

In December 1991, during the Maastricht Intergovernmental Conference, the heads of state and government of the Community member states agreed on introducing a monetary union as well as some other significant reforms in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy (the CFSP) and certain issues under Justice and Home Affairs. The Maastricht Treaty, known as the Treaty on the European Union, was finally signed in February 1992, which entered into force in late 1993. The organization of “European Union” owes its name and its political status to the Maastricht Treaty. This treaty also defined the key principles of and the institutional framework for the CFSP that would become the third pillar of the European Union.

From the Luxembourg Summit to the Helsinki Summit: Explaining the Ups and Downs in Turkish-EU Relations

The Agenda 2000 revealed the EU’s pre-accession strategy and it reiterated possible contribution of an enlarged EU to regional peace and security. About the status of Turkey, the Agenda 2000 pointed out that Turkey would be treated by the same standards and criteria as other applicants and that Turkey was eligible for EU membership. Yet there were serious economic and political disparities between the EU member countries and Turkey at the time. While CEECs and the Southern Cyprus Administration were declared as the countries that would be included in the coming enlargement round, the completion of a customs union with Turkey was underlined as an important step that would support further dialogue between Turkey and the EU.

The Agenda 2000 was fully adopted in the December 1997 Luxembourg European Council. The Council reaffirmed the pre-accession strategy framed in the Agenda 2000 and decided to launch the accession process with Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and the so-called “Republic of Cyprus.” With regard to the state of relations with Turkey, the Council declared that bilateral relations were dependent on the political and economic liberalization of the country and Turkey’s positive efforts concerning a political settlement of ongoing border disputes with Greece and peaceful resolution of the Cyprus conflict under the UN aegis.

At the Helsinki European Council meeting held in December 1999, Turkey was officially declared as a candidate destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to other candidate states. Turkey would also benefit from the pre-accession strategy like other candidate countries. Turkey would have access to EU pre-accession programs and institutional arrangements. Moreover, Turkey would benefit from financial aid packages to improve its technical and institutional structure. The Council urged the Commission to prepare an accession partnership document that would specify principles, objectives, priorities, and conditions for harmonizing Turkish legislation with the EU acquis.

After years of stagnation, the Helsinki European Council conclusions marked the beginning of golden years (1999- 2005) in Turkish-EU relations. The EU leverage triggered reforms in domestic politics and it led to fundamental changes in Turkey’s discourse and attitude vis-à-vis longrun foreign policy issues. Before discussing post-Helsinki developments, it would be useful to review the EU’s changing perception toward Turkey between the Luxembourg and the Helsinki Summits.

The Changing Security Environment: In the early postCold War era, as the threat from the Soviet bloc disappeared Turkey’s strategic importance for the West also began to be questioned. Yet this skepticism turned out to be not well founded because of a rapid change in the post-Cold War security environment. The ethnic clashes in the Balkans in the early 1990s heralded a new security environment in which the regional security threats were becoming transnationalized. The European Union began to better appreciate the role of enhanced relations with strategic partners to manage regional security challenges. Turkey’s strategic position, which had been a crucial asset for the West during the Cold War years, became important in the light of regional developments. The position of Turkey as a bridge between the East and the West as well as Turkey’s impact on regional politics would contribute to the CFSP.

Turkish-Greek Relations: Greece became a full member of the EC in 1981. This added a new dimension to the EC’s attitude toward Turkey’s membership. The use of veto power by Greece over the issues related to Turkey became an important game changer. In the 1980s, the Greek governments adopted a strategy of internationalizing its disputes with Turkey such as the Cyprus conflict and the disputes in the Mediterranean and the Aegean to promote its national interests. According to Greek political elites, the EU membership was an important platform to mitigate regional conflicts in its neighborhood, balance Turkey’s power as well as enforce Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to make concessions toward a settlement in Cyprus. Unanimity principle in the voting procedure strengthened Greece’s hand with a veto power over Turkey’s further attempts for EU accession.

The Cyprus Issue: The ever-increasing integration between the so-called Republic of Cyprus and the EU in the late 1990s became a source of tension between Turkish foreign policy makers and their European counterparts. Although in the early 1990s, the EU adopted an evenhanded approach toward the Cyprus issue in order to preserve the balance between Turkey and Cyprus, with Greece’s strategy to link Turkey’s EU accession process to the resolution of the Cyprus conflict, the EU’s involvement in the conflict damaged its credibility as a non-belligerent actor and an objective broker. The Greek Cypriot government during the Presidency of Vassiliou applied for the full EC membership in July 1990. The EC hesitated to take a quick decision due to the fact that the Union’s priority was the conclusion of the Maastricht Treaty (the European deepening process) and the northern enlargement. Additionally, the de facto division of the island was a serious concern for the EC. However, in this phase of the EC involvement in the Cyprus issue, the EC kept its “disinterested third-party position”.

Post-Helsinki Relations: A New Page in Turkish-EU Relations

The 1999 Helsinki European Council decisions on Turkey’s candidacy breathed new life into Turkey’s EU aspirations. In order to manage the process of EU harmonization, the Turkey-EU Association Council meeting, held in April 2000, published an Accession Partnership Document. The document aimed to set the principles, conditions, short-run objectives and timetables to organize and monitor Turkey’s EU harmonization process. In line with the Accession Partnership Document, the Turkish government published a National Program, which reaffirmed that the Turkish government would work on adopting the EU acquis. In fact, the Turkish government adopted a comprehensive constitutional amendment in October 2001.

Turkish policy makers in the early 2000s acknowledged that the ongoing foreign policy issues, especially the Cyprus conflict, would pose a challenge to the Turkey’s accession process. In 2001 such developments as the probability of the Cyprus’s EU access, Greece’s threat to vote the eastern enlargement without the Cyprus’s integration and strong international leverage on Turkey to reformulate its Cyprus policy pushed Ankara to reconsider its Cyprus strategy. Gradually it also became obvious that Cyprus would be an EU member state in the next round of EU enlargement. This demonstrated that Ankara’s strategy to persuade the EU to accept Turkey’s position that Turkey’s EU membership and Cyprus conflict were two different issues and Cypriot accession had to be postponed pending on a viable and just settlement bore no fruits. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership took a new step to revitalize direct negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus question before 2004. In November 2001, the head of the TRNC, Rauf Denktaş, invited the head of the Greek Cypriot Administration Glafkos Clerides to face-to-face meetings without any preconditions.

An agreement was reached to resume the negotiation talks starting in January 2002. The two leaders agreed on all issues that would be on the negotiation table. This meant that nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed; parties were to continue to negotiate until a comprehensive settlement was reached. However, the meetings continued until mid-February 2002 without reaching any common ground on sensitive issues including territory, sovereignty, governance, and security. On May 14, 2002, the UN Secretary General and Kofi Annan visited both sides and expressed his belief that there would be a significant progress until the end of June 2002. At this point, the UN timetable to reach a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question was attached to the delicate EU enlargement agenda and the ultimate objective of the early 2002 talks was to reach a settlement before or at the Copenhagen European Council on December 12-13, 2002.

The most dramatic change took place in the area of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). In 2003, Turkey began to contribute to the EU-led military operations under the ESDP. The EU members and NATO members by signing the Berlin Plus Agreement in early 2003 had proposed close cooperation and dialogue between the EU and NATO in international crises. The EU now might use NATO’s military assets toward managing international crises. Accordingly, Turkey lifted its veto regarding the use of the NATO assets by the EU and started actively contributing to the development of the ESDP and ESDP crisis operations in the Balkans.

Accession Negotiations and the Additional Protocol Crisis

In December 2002, the European Copenhagen Council declared that the so-called Republic of Cyprus had concluded accession negotiations with the EU together with other nine candidate countries and it would become an EU member state on May 1, 2004. This meant that the solution of the Cyprus conflict was not a precondition any longer for Cyprus to become a full EU member. Regarding Turkey’s progress toward the EU membership, the Council welcomed the determination of the Turkish government to take further steps to meet the Copenhagen criteria. However, rather than offering an early date for the start of accession negotiations, the Council stated “if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria, the European Union will open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay”. As such, Turkey did not get a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU. Despite its diplomatic contacts and lobbying, even the second best option for Ankara (to get a date for the date to start accession negotiations) did not get realized.

Upon Turkey’s declaration, the EU issued a counter declaration stating that “The European Community and its Member States make clear that this declaration by Turkey is unilateral, does not form part of the Protocol and has no legal effect on Turkey’s obligations under the Protocol”. In the meantime, the EU reiterated that the opening of negotiations on the relevant chapters depended on Turkey’s implementation of its contractual obligations and the failure to fulfill its obligations in full was to affect the overall negotiation process. Another critical statement of the EU was about the recognition of the so-called Republic of Cyprus. The EU stressed that members of the EU recognized only “the Cyprus Republic as a subject of international law.” The Union also underlined that the recognition of Cyprus and the normalization of Turkey’s relations with all member states was a component of the accession process.

In the post-2006 era, the Cyprus conflict had repercussions on Turkey’s EU accession negotiation process. Although the suspension of negotiation in eight chapters did not seriously damage Turkish- EU relations, it further strained bilateral relations because of the effect of the Cyprus conflict on the Turkey’s accession process. While the deadline by which Turkey had to implement the Additional Protocol was approaching, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership increased their pressure and urged the UN Secretary-General to increase his leverage on the Greek Cypriots to speed up the process of intercommunal negotiations on the island. At this juncture, Turkey gained a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2008-2010. This raised the expectations that Turkey through its UN Security Council membership would have an opportunity to inflict more pressure on the Greek Cypriots and that the balance might change in favor of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community. However, Turkey’s UN Security Council membership was not that effective in mobilizing the UN to end the isolation of the TRNC.

Turkish European circles, Turkey’s population rate, economic and political level of development, level of Europeanness,” religious and cultural orientation as well as its geographical distance to Europe were main sources of anxiety. On the other hand, for pro-Turkish circles in the EU, Turkey was an indispensable strategic partner, a crucial regional power and an increasing economic actor whose membership would enrich the cultural diversity in the EU and provide the member states with a great opportunity to reach to the Islamic world. For the proponents of Turkey, opening the accession negotiations was a matter of reputation that would consolidate the credibility of the Union for further enlargement prospects. Yet, in the post-2005 era, the civil wars in Turkey’s close neighborhood posed a threat to Turkey’s EU accession process. The civil wars in Iraq and Syria and the destabilizing impacts of the Arab uprisings revived the long-lasting debates on stability at the borders of Europe.

Another aspect that had a critical impact on the Turkish governments’ approach to the EU is the diminishing public support for EU membership. The Euro-skepticism prevalent among the public is a reflection of the discontent of the Turkish people with respect to the EU’s dubious commitments for Turkey’s EU membership and, especially in post-2004 era, the Union’s non-fulfilment of its commitments to the Turkish Cypriot community. Under these circumstances, as skepticism became prevalent among the public, Turkish government tried to refrain from facing serious political costs in its EU harmonization process.

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