Turkey and the European Union: Looking Towards Europe

There has long been a sense of unreality about relations between Turkey and the European Union. While the Turks largely pretended that they would someday enter the Union, the Europeans pretended that they would allow it to happen. Since it was agreed that such a process would require a great deal of time and major changes, both sides were able to avoid the issue.

The World Today
4 minute READ

Ersel Aydinli

Department of international relations, Bilkent University, Ankara

Ali Resul Usul

Acting director, European research desk, Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies, Ankara

Europeans could avoid truly serious thinking about Turkish membership, believing Turkey would never be able to meet all the necessary requirements. Many Turks avoided thinking about the realities of membership, suspecting the Europeans would never allow it to come true. Now all may have changed.

After the European Union (EU) accepted Turkey’s candidacy for membership at the 1999 Helsinki summit and introduced accession partnership priorities last year, Turkey outlined a national programme to meet the political criteria. Pretending had to end.

For the first time, Turkey had to think seriously about what the criteria meant and the result of complying with them. In the debates that followed, serious reservations were revealed among those in power.

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