Turkey and the European Union: Over the Horizon?

Turkey is the only European Union candidate country with which membership negotiations are yet to commence. Some Turks want negotiations to begin before 2004, the earliest date earmarked by Brussels. Late last year the Union outlined the criteria which must be fulfilled before full membership can be considered. Now Turkey has responded with its own programme. But caught in a new economic crisis, joining seems as far away as ever.

The World Today Published 1 June 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 5 minute READ

Bill Park

Senior Lecturer, Wat Studies Group, King's College London

At first glance, the thousand-page National Programme is an impressive declaration of Ankara’s intent to create a western European-style democracy, characterised by the rule of law and all the rights and freedoms – of speech, thought, action, assembly, respect for minorities – that EU candidate countries are obliged to adopt. It promises a wide-ranging constitutional review, and commits Ankara to almost two hundred new or amended laws.

Can Turkey deliver?

However, EU officials and diplomats have generally greeted the Programme with a polite, encouraging, but cautious, welcome. There have been references to the need to fully digest its contents, reminders that Commission progress reports on each candidate are due later in the year, and rather more pointed observations – prompted by Ankara’s unsatisfactory track record of fulfilling promises – that any final judgment will be based on implementation rather than declarations of intent.

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