Accession of Turkey to the European Union

Accession of Turkey to the European Union

Infobox EU accession bid

status = Candidate
nation = Turkey
national_denonym = Turkish

chapters_opened = 10
chapters_closed = 1
national_GDP_PPP = 941.584
national_area_total = 783,562
national_population = 70,586,256
website = []

Turkey's application to acceede to the European Union (previously the European Communities) was made on 14 April 1987. Turkey has been an associate member of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors since 1963. [cite web|url=
title=EU-Turkey relations
work=European Information on Enlargement & Neighbours
] After the ten founding members, Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and was also a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961 [In 1948, Turkey became one of the original 18 members of 'Organization for European Economic Co-operation' [,2340,fr_2649_201185_1876917_1_1_1_1,00.html OEEC] which became OECD in 1961 [,3343,en_2649_34483_1915847_1_1_1_1,00.html OECD convention] ] and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1973. It has also been an associate member of the Western European Union since 1992. Turkey signed a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and was officially recognised as a candidate for full membership on 12 December 1999, at the Helsinki summit of the European Council. Negotiations were started on 3 October 2005, and the process is likely to take at least a decade to complete. [cite web|url=|title=Interview with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on BBC Sunday AM|publisher=European Commission|format=PDF|accessdate=2006-12-17|date=2006-10-15] The membership bid has become a major controversy of the ongoing enlargement of the European Union.



The modern Republic of Turkey is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic power in Europe between the late 14th and the early 20th centuries; but by the 19th century it had sunk into a decline that led some to call it the "sick man of Europe." [" [ Ottoman Empire] ," Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 19 April 2007.] After the Empire's collapse following World War I, Turkish revolutionaries led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk emerged victorious in the Turkish War of Independence, establishing Turkey as it currently exists today . Atatürk, then Prime Minister and later President of Turkey, implemented a series of reforms that modernized the country and moved it more towards European culture.cite web|publisher=Embassy of the Republic of Turkey (Washington, DC)|title=Turkey and EU|url=|accessdate=2007-07-04] During World War II, Turkey remained neutral until February 1945, when it joined the Allies. During the Cold War, Turkey allied itself with the United States, taking part in the Marshall Plan in 1947, joining as a member state the Council of Europe in 1949, [cite web|url= |title=Turkey and the Council of Europe|publisher=Council of Europe|accessdate=2006-10-30|date=2006-10-27] and joining NATO in 1952.cite web|url= |title=Greece and Turkey accede to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization|work=NATO Media Library|publisher=NATO|accessdate=2006-10-30|date=1952-02-18]

1960s - 1990s

Turkey first applied for associate membership in the European Economic Community in 1959, and on 12 September 1963 signed the "Agreement Creating An Association Between The Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community", also known as the Ankara Agreement. This agreement came into effect the following year on 12 December 1964. The Ankara Agreement sought to integrate Turkey into a customs union with the EEC whilst acknowledging the final goal of membership. In November 1970, a further protocol called the "Additional Protocol" established a timetable for the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods traded between Turkey and the EEC.

1980 saw a temporary stop in relations as a result of the 1980 Turkish military coup following political and economic instability, though the recommencement of multiparty elections in 1983 saw Turkish-EEC relations fully restored. On 14 April 1987, Turkey submitted its application for formal membership into the European Community. The European Commission responded in December 1989 by confirming Ankara’s eventual membership but also by deferring the matter to more favorable times, citing Turkey’s economic and political situation, as well its poor relations with Greece and the conflict with Cyprus as creating an unfavorable environment with which to begin negotiations.cite web|publisher=Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in London|url=|title=About Turkey and the EU|accessdate=2007-07-04 ] This position was confirmed again in the Luxembourg European Council of 1997 in which accession talks were started with central and eastern European states and Cyprus, but not Turkey. During the 1990s, Turkey proceeded with a closer integration with the European Union by agreeing to a customs union in 1995. Moreover, the Helsinki European Council of 1999 proved a milestone as the EU recognised Turkey as a candidate on equal footing with other potential candidates.


The next significant step in Turkish-EU relations came with the December 2002 Copenhagen European Council. According to it, "the EU would open negotiations with Turkey 'without delay' 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."

With the 2002 election of the pro-European Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a number of reforms led to increasing stability both politically and economically. In 2004, as part of the drive to enter a reunified Cyprus into the EU, the Turkish government supported the UN-backed Annan Plan for Cyprus. This plan was accepted by Turkish Cypriots, but rejected by the Greek Cypriots. At the same time, a three-decade-long period of hyperinflation ended, with inflation reduced to 6% from annual levels of 75% during the mid-1990s. [cite news|url=|title=Turkey's Ruling Party Marks Its 3rd Anniversary|work=Southeast European Times |location=Istanbul|first=Fatih |last=Baran |accessdate=2007-05-06]

The political reform program of the Erdoğan government continued. This included the abolition of capital punishment, crackdown on torture, and more rights for its Kurdish population. In response to these developments, the European Commission recommended that the negotiations should begin in 2005, but also added various precautionary measures. The EU leaders agreed on 16 December 2004 to start accession negotiations with Turkey from 3 October 2005. Despite an offer from the Austrian People's Party and the German Christian Democratic Union of a privileged partnership status, a less than full membership, EU accession negotiations were officially launched.

Turkey's accession talks have since been dogged by a number of domestic and external problems. Several European states such as Austria have made their reluctance to allow Turkey into Europe clear. The issue of Cyprus continues to be a major obstacle to negotiations. European officials have commented on the slowdown in Turkish reforms which, combined with the Cyprus problem, has led the EU’s enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn to warn of an impeding ‘train crash’ in negotiations with Turkey.cite news|work=The Economist|title=The ins and outs: The EU's most effective foreign-policy instrument has been enlargement. But how far can it go?|date=2007-03-17|url=|accessdate=2007-07-04] Despite these setbacks, Turkey closed its first chapter of negotiations in June 2006.


The earliest date that Turkey could enter the EU is 2013, the date when the next financial perspectives (the EU's six year budgetary perspectives) will come into force. Ankara is currently aiming to comply with EU law by this date, [cite news|url=
title=Turkey targets 2013 for EU legal compliance
] but Brussels has refused to back 2013 as a deadline. [cite news|url=
title=Brussels declines to endorse 2013 date for Turkey's EU entry
] It is believed that the accession process will take at least until 2021. [cite web|url=|title=Interview with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on BBC Sunday AM|accessdate=2007-04-13]

Time Line

:1959 - Turkey applies for associate membership in the European Economic Community.:1963 - Association Agreement signed, acknowledging the final goal of membership.:1964 - Association Agreement comes into effect.:1970 - Protocol signed providing a timetable for the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods.:1980 - Freeze in relations following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état.:1983 - Relations fully restored following elections.:1987 - Application for formal membership into the European Community.:1989 - European Commission refuses to immediately begin accession negotiations, citing Turkey’s economic and political situation, poor relations with Greece and their conflict with Cyprus, but overall reaffirming eventual membership as the goal.:1995 - European Union-Turkey Customs Union is formed.:1999 - European Council recognises Turkey as a candidate on equal footing with other potential candidates.:2002 - European Council states that "the EU would open negotiations with Turkey 'without delay' if Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen criteria".:2002 - 2002 Turkish general election brings the pro-EU Justice and Development Party (AKP) to power.:2004 - Turkish government and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus back the Annan Plan for Cyprus.:2004, December - European Union agrees to start negotiations.:3 October 2005 - Opening of six chapters of the Acquis: Right of Establishment & Freedom to provide Services, Company Law, Financial Services, Information Society & Media, Statistics and Financial Control:12 June 2006 - Chapter on Science and Research opened and closed.:11 December 2006 - Continued dispute over Cyprus prompts EU to freeze talks on eight chapters and state no chapters would be closed until a resolution is found [ [ EU resumes Turkey accession talks] , "BBC News", 2007-03-29, accessed on 2007-03-29] :29 March 2007 - Chapter on Enterprise and Industrial Regulations opened [ [ EU-Turkey to re-start entry talks] , "", 2007-03-29, accessed on 2007-03-29] :25 June 2007 - Chapters on Statistics and Financial Control opened, but the opening of the chapter on economic and monetary policy was blocked by French President Nicholas Sarkozy. [ [ Turkish Entry Into Europe Slowed by Sarkozy Move] , "New York Times", 2007-06-25, accessed on 2007-06-25] :20 December 2007 - Chapters on Health & Consumer Protection and on Trans-European Transport are opened. [ [ Defying France, EU opens two more chapters for accession] , "Zaman", 2007-12-20, accessed on 2007-12-20]

tatus of acquis chapters

Turkish membership issues

In order to accede to the EU, Turkey must first successfully complete negotiations with the European Commission on each of the 35 chapters of the EU's acquis and then the member states must unanimously agree to Turkish membership. Public opinion in EU countries generally opposes Turkish membership, though with varying degrees of intensity, although political leaders and politicians of the European Union generally support it. Some countries, notably France and Austria, have discussed putting the decision to a referendum.

Turkey’s entry into the EU may have profound consequences on the future direction of the EU. The issues mentioned by some of those objecting to Turkey's EU candidacy can be divided among those inherent to Turkey's situation, those that involve internal issues about human rights, democracy, and related matters, and those concerning Turkey's open external disputes with its neighbours. There is much contention over whether some of these arguments are used as proxies to hide a feeling that the country is not culturally European and therefore should be denied entry.

Effect upon the EU

Proponents of Turkey's membership argue that it's a key regional power [cite web
title=The Geopolitics of Turkey
publisher=Strategic Forecasting Inc.
quote=The real question concerns the position of Turkey as a regional power in the wake of the Iraq war.
] with a large economy and the second largest military force of NATO [cite web|url=
work=My Country & NATO
] [cite web|url=
title=Who is losing Turkey?
section=Turkey, America and Europe
] that will enhance the EU's position as a global geostrategic player; given Turkey's geographic location and economic, political, cultural and historic ties in regions with large natural resources that are at the immediate vicinity of the EU's geopolitical sphere of influence; such as the East Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, the Middle East, the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia.cite book|title=Ataturk|first=Andrew|last=Mango|publisher=Overlook|year=2000|isbn=1-5856-7011-1pn] cite book|title=History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey|first=Stanford Jay|last=Shaw|coauthors=Kural Shaw, Ezel|publisher=Cambridge University Press|year=1977|isbn=0-5212-9163-1pn]

According to Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister, "The accession of Turkey would give the EU a decisive role for stability in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which is clearly in the strategic interest of Europe."cite news|last = Ekman|first = Ivar|title=Top Swedish official backs Turkey for EU|work=International Herald Tribune|date=2006-12-11|url =|accessdate=2007-07-03] One of Turkey's key supporters for its bid to join the EU is the United Kingdom. In May 2008, Queen Elizabeth II said during a visit to Turkey, that "Turkey is uniquely positioned as a bridge between the East and West at a crucial time for the European Union and the world in general." [cite news|url=
title=Britain's Queen Elizabeth's visit to Turkey continues

Upon joining the EU, Turkey's 70 million inhabitants would bestow it the second largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament. Demographic projections indicate that Turkey would surpass Germany in the number of seats by 2020.

Turkey's membership would also affect future enlargement plans, especially the number of nations seeking EU membership, grounds by which Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has opposed Turkey's admission. Giscard has suggested that it would lead to demands for accession by Morocco. Morocco's application is already rejected on geographic grounds, and Turkey, unlike Morocco, has territory in Europe. French President Nicolas Sarkozy (then a candidate) has stated in January 2007 that "enlarging Europe with no limit risks destroying European political union, and that I do not accept...I want to say that Europe must give itself borders, that not all countries have a vocation to become members of Europe, beginning with Turkey which has no place inside the European Union."cite web|url=|title=Turkey has no place in EU: Sarkozy|accessdate=2007-04-13]

EU member states must unanimously agree on Turkey's membership for the Turkish accession to be successful. A number of nations can oppose it, notably Austria, which historically served as a bulwark for Christian Europe against the Ottoman Empire; and France, which is fearful of the prospect of another wave of Muslim immigrants, especially given the poor integration of its existing Muslim minority.

Attempts to change the French constitution to remove the compulsory referendum on all EU accessions after Croatia resulted in a new clause requiring compulsory referendums on the accession of all countries with a population of more than 5% of the EU's total population; this clause would apply to Turkey and Ukraine. [ [ - French Parliament strikes blow to Turkish EU bid | EU - European Information on Enlargement & Neighbours ] ] The French Senate, however, blocked the change in the French constitution, in order to maintain good relations with Turkey. [ [ French Senate ends Sarkozy plan to block Turkey « The Turko File ] ]


Turkey, a developed country, [cite web|url=
title=Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups
work=World Factbook
] has the seventh largest economy in the Council of Europe and the fifteenth largest economy in the world. Turkey is a founding member of the OECD and the G20 industrial nations.

Turkey's GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%, [Dilenschneider Group and Pangaeia Group, " [ Turkey 360: Did You Know] ," "Foreign Affairs", January/February 2008] [cite web|url=|title=GNP and GDP as of September 2006|publisher=Turkish Statistical Institute|format=DOC|accessdate=2006-12-11|date=2006-12-11] which made it one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. The World Bank forecasts a 5.4% GDP growth rate for Turkey in 2008. [ [ Regional Economic Prospects] , "World Bank"] Turkey's economy is no longer dominated by traditional agricultural activities in the rural areas, but more so by a highly dynamic industrial complex in the major cities, mostly concentrated in the western provinces of the country, along with a developed services sector. In 2007, the agricultural sector accounted for 8.9% of the GDP, while the industrial sector accounted for 30.8% and the services sector accounted for 59.3%.cite web|url=|work=World Factbook|year=2008|publisher=CIA|title=Turkey: Economy] The tourism sector has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. In 2007, there were 27,214,988 visitors to the country, who contributed 18.5 billion USD to Turkey's revenues. [cite news|url= |title=Turizm geliri 2007’de rekor kırdı|work=NTV-MSNBC|accessdate=2008-01-30|date=2008-01-30] Other key sectors of the Turkish economy are banking, construction, home appliances, electronics, textiles, oil refining, petrochemical products, food, mining, iron and steel, machine industry and automotive. Turkey has a large and growing automotive industry, which produced 1,024,987 motor vehicles in 2006, [ [ Turkish Automotive Producers' Association: Turkish Automotive Production] ] ranking as the 6th largest automotive producer in Europe in that year; behind Germany (5,819,614), France (3,174,260), Spain (2,770,435), the United Kingdom (1,648,388), and Italy (1,211,594), respectively. [cite news|url=
title=Turkey Europe's sixth largest auto producer
work=Today's Zaman

Turkey has taken advantage of a customs union with the European Union, signed in 1995, to increase its industrial production destined for exports, while at the same time benefiting from EU-origin foreign investment into the country. [cite web|url= |title=Turkey's evolving trade integration into Pan-European markets|author=Kaminski, Bartolomiej|coauthors=Ng, Francis|publisher=World Bank|accessdate=2006-12-27|date=2006-05-01] In 2007, Turkey's exports reached 110.5 billion USD (main export partners: Germany 11.2%, UK 8%, Italy 6.95%, France 5.6%, Spain 4.3%, USA 3.88%; total EU exports 56.5%.) However, larger imports amounting to about 156.9 billion USD threaten the balance of trade (main import partners: Russia 13.8%, Germany 10.3%, China 7.8%, Italy 6%, USA 4.8%, France 4.6%, Iran 3.9%, UK 3.2%; total EU imports 40.4%; total Asia imports 27%). [cite web|url=|title=2006-2007 Seçilmiş Ülkeler İstatistikleri|publisher=Gümrükler Genel Müdürlüğü|accessdate=2008-03-12|language=Turkish] [cite news|url= |title=Turkey puts 2008 export target at 125 bln dollars|work=Xinhua |publisher=People's Daily Online|accessdate=2008-01-02|date=2008-01-02]

Turkey's per-capita GDP places it among the upper-middle income countries. In 2006, Eurostat calculated the minimum monthly wage in Turkey as €331, which was larger than the minimum monthly wage in nine European Union member states, namely Bulgaria (€82), Romania (€90), Latvia (€129), Lithuania (€159), Slovakia (€183), Estonia (€192), Poland (€234), Hungary (€247) and the Czech Republic (€261); while lower than the minimum wage in Portugal (€437). [ [ Minimum Wages 2006] , Eurostat]

According to Forbes magazine, Istanbul, Turkey's financial capital, had a total of 35 billionaires as of March 2008 (up from 25 in 2007), ranking 4th in the world behind Moscow (74 billionaires), New York City (71 billionaires) and London (36 billionaires), while ranking above Hong Kong (30 billionaires), Los Angeles (24 billionaires), Mumbai (20 billionaires), San Francisco (19 billionaires), Dallas (15 billionaires) and Tokyo (15 billionaires). [ [ Forbes list of "Billionaire Cities" in "The Sunday Times" article "Turkey’s new rich find the Midas touch". March 9, 2008.] ]

The opening of talks regarding the Economic and Monetary Policy acquis chapter of Turkey's accession bid was expected to begin in June 2007, but were stalled by France.cite news|title=Turkey unhappy at EU talks delay|work=BBC News|date=2007-06-26|url=|accessdate=2007-07-03]


Statistics show that the birth rate is declining in the entire continent of Europe. Especially in Eastern Europe and Russia, population growth is negative. The EU member states already set a goal to solve the impact of the aging population. [ [ EUR-Lex - 52006DC0571 - EN ] ] Turkey has a young population. This might act as a balance for the increasingly aging populations of the current EU. [Nugent, Neill. (August 2005) " [ Turkey's Membership Application: Implications for the EU] " The Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series: University of Miami]

As of 2005, the population of Turkey stood at 72.6 million with a growth rate of 1.5% per annum.cite web|publisher=World Bank|url= |title=Turkey at a glance|accessdate=2006-12-10|date=2006-08-13] cite web|url= |title=Data and Statistics for Turkey|publisher=World Bank|accessdate=2006-12-10|year=2005] The Turkish population is relatively young, with 25.5% falling within the 0–15 age bracket. [cite web|url= |title=Turkey - Population and Demographics|publisher=Intute|accessdate=2006-12-10|date=2006-07] Population growth is expected to slow, as Turkey has a sub-replacement fertility level.

According to statistics released by the government in 2005, life expectancy stands at 68.9 years for men and 73.8 years for women, with an overall average of 71.3 years for the populace as a whole. [cite news|url= |title=Life expectancy has increased in 2005 in Turkey|work=Anadolu Agency|publisher=Hürriyet|accessdate=2006-12-09|date=2006-12-03] Education is compulsory and free from ages six to 15.

The Turkish people, are an "ethnic group", defined more by a sense of sharing a common Turkish culture and having a Turkish mother tongue, than by citizenship, religion or by being subjects to any particular country.

The word Turk or Turkish also has a wider meaning in an historical context because, at times in the past, it has been used to refer to all Muslim inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire irrespective of their ethnicity. [cite encyclopedia|url= |title=Turk|encyclopedia=American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language|edition=4E|encyclopedia=American Heritage Dictionary|publisher=Houghton Mifflin Company|accessdate=2006-12-27|year=2000] The question of ethnicity in modern Turkey is a highly debated and difficult issue. Figures published in several different sources prove this difficulty by varying greatly.Fact|date=August 2008


The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape.cite encyclopedia|url= |encyclopedia=A Country Study|title=Turkey: Geography of Turkey|publisher=US Library of Congress|accessdate=2006-12-13|editor=Helen Chapin Metz|year=1995] Turkey's area, inclusive of lakes, occupies 783,562 [ [ UN Demographic Yearbook] , accessed 16 April 2007] square kilometers (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometers (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometers (9,174 sq mi) in Europe, thus making Turkey a transcontinental country. Turkey's area makes it the world's 37th-largest country, and is about the size of Metropolitan France and the United Kingdom combined.

Ankara, the Turkish capital, is in Anatolia, the Asian part of Turkey. Istanbul, Turkey's most populous city, and its cultural and financial center, is the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. Istanbul was chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2010.

Turkey's membership would mean that the European Union's external borders would reach the Middle Eastern neighbors of Turkey, such as Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Foreign relations


The island of Cyprus is still divided after the Turkish invasion in 1974, following a coup d'etat by Nikos Sampson against the Cypriot government of Makarios III and fully supported by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 under its de facto leader Dimitrios Ioannides. Turkey's original intention, which was declared by the Prime Minister of that period, Bülent Ecevit, was to avoid the island's annexation to Greece and to bring an end to the Cypriot intercommunal violence which took place between 1963 and 1974. [ [ Princeton University: WWS Case Study 3/00. "Policy Watershed: Turkey's Cyprus Policy and the Interventions of 1974."] ] Since 1974, Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Republic of Cyprus (an EU member since 2004) as the sole authority on the island, and recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots backed the 2004 Annan Plan for Cyprus aimed at the reunification of the island, but the plan was subsequently rejected by Greek Cypriots on the grounds that it did not meet their needs. According to Cypriots, the latest proposal included maintained residence rights for the many Anatolian Turks that were brought to Cyprus after the invasion and their descendants, and Greek-Cypriots who lost their property after the Turkish invasion would be granted only a restricted right of return.Fact|date=August 2008 Although the outcome received much criticism in the EU as well, the Republic of Cyprus was admitted into the EU a week after the referendum.

The Turkish government has refused to officially recognise the state of Republic of Cyprus until the removal of the political and economic blockade on the TRNC. Turkey's non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus has led to complications within the Customs Union. Under the customs agreements Turkey already signed as a precondition to start negotiations in 2005, it is obliged to open its ports to Cypriot planes and vessels, but Turkey refuses this and insists it will only do so after the EU proposal to open up direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots and provide 259,000,000 in funds to help them upgrade their infrastructure is fulfilled. Greek Cypriots have subsequently threatened to veto accession talks unless Turkey complies.Facts|date=August 2008


Greece has had a history of rejecting Turkey's membership. [cite book|first=John|last=McCormick|title=Understanding the European Union|publisher = Palgrave Macmillan|isbn=9781403944511|year=2005|edition=3E pn] Greece has been supportive overall of Turkish membership, with Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis declaring, "Full compliance, full accession" in December 2006.cite news|first=A.|last=Panagopoulis|title=Karamanlis Hails EU's 'Historic' Decision to Admit Bulgaria, Romania|work=Greek News|date=2006-12-18|url=|accessdate=2007-04-13] In 2005 the European Commission referred to relations between Turkey and Greece as "continuing to develop positively"cite press release|title=Turkey - 2005 Progress Report|publisher=European Commission|date=2005-08-11|url=|accessdate=2007-07-06] while also citing the lack of progress made by Turkey in dropping their claim of "casus belli" over a dispute about territorial waters boundaries.


Turkey has a secular constitution, with no official state religion. [cite news|url=
title=Headscarf row goes to Turkey's roots
work=BBC News
] Nominally, though, 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim [ [ Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs - Background Note: Turkey] ] [cite web|url=
publisher=Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. U.S. State Dept.
work=International Religious Freedom Report
] of whom over 70% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. A sizeable minority, about over 25% of the Muslim population, is affiliated with the Shi'a Alevi sect. [cite book|title=The Alevis in Turkey: The Emergence of a Secular Islamic Tradition|first=David|last=Shankland|publisher=Routledge (UK)|location=|year=2003|id=ISBN 0-7007-1606-8|url=,M1pn] The Bektashi belong to a Sufi order of Islam that is indigenous to Turkey, but also has numerous followers in the Balkan peninsula, particularly in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. The Christians (Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Gregorian, Syriac, Protestant) and Jews (Sephardic, Ashkenazi) are the two other sizable religious minorities in the country. Turkey would be the first Muslim-majority country to join the European Union, although Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, also Muslim-majority, have been recognized as potential candidate countries. [cite web |url= |title=Social values, Science and Technology |month=June | year=2005 |accessdate=2006-12-19 |publisher=Eurobarometer]

The number of practicing Muslims, Christians, Jews or followers of other faiths is not known, because newborn babies are automatically registered to the faith of their parents (in most cases the father) and this remains as such on their identification papers, unless they have it changed or removed with a court's order after reaching the age of 18. Official population census polls in Turkey do not include information regarding a person's religious belief or ethnic background due to the regulations set by the Turkish constitution, which defines all citizens of the Republic of Turkey as Turkish in terms of nationality, regardless of faith or race. [cite news|url=
title=Alevilik İslamiyet'in içinde değil

There is a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey. The state has no official religion nor promotes any, and actively monitors the area between the religions.cite web|url= |title=Headscarf row goes to Turkey's roots|work=BBC News|accessdate=2006-12-13|date=2003-10-29] The constitution recognizes the freedom of religion for individuals, whereas religious communities are placed under the protection of the state; but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party, for instance) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities; [cite news|url= |title=The Islamic veil across Europe|work=BBC News|accessdate=2006-12-13|date=2006-11-17] the law was upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" in the "Leyla Şahin v. Turkey" case on 10 November 2005. [cite press release|url=|title=Leyla Şahin v. Turkey|author=Registrar|publisher=European Court of Human Rights|accessdate=2008-08-28|date=2005-11-10]

Article 301

Article 301 states that "a person who publicly insults the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years." " and also that "expressions of thought intended to criticise shall not constitute a crime."'

The EU was especially critical of this law during the September 2005 trial of novelist Orhan Pamuk over comments that recognized the deaths of thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians. Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn and members of the European Parliament called the case "regrettable", "most unfortunate", and "unacceptable".cite news|last=Dymond|first=Jonny|title=EU blasts Turkish author's trial|url=|work=BBC News|date=2005-09-13|accessdate=2007-07-06] After the case was dropped three months later, Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül indicated that Turkey may abandon or modify Article 301, stating that "there may be need for a new law".cite news|url=|title=Turkey insult law 'may be dumped'|work=BBC News|date=2005-12-28|accessdate=2007-07-06] In September 2006, the European Parliament called for the abolition of laws, such as Article 301, "which threaten European free speech norms".cite news|url=|title=New EU warning on Turkey reforms|work=BBC News|date=2006-09-27|accessdate=2007-07-08] On April 30, 2008, the law was reformed. [ [ BBC: EU hails Turkey free speech move. April 30, 2008.] ] According to the reform, it is now a crime to explicitly insult the "Turkish nation" rather than "Turkishness"; opening court cases based on Article 301 require the approval of the Justice Minister; and the maximum punishment has been reduced to two years in jail. [ [ BBC: EU hails Turkey free speech move. April 30, 2008.] ]

Kemal Kerinçsiz, an ultra-nationalist lawyer, and other members of "Büyük Hukukçular Birliği" (Great Jurists Union) headed by Kerinçsiz, have been "behind nearly all of [Article 301] trials."cite news|url=
title=In Turkey, ultra-nationalist lawyer wins supporters as enthusiasm for the EU falls
work=Associated Press
publisher=International Herald Tribune
] In January 2008, Kerinçsiz was arrested for participating in an ultra-nationalist underground organization, Ergenekon, allegedly behind the attacks on the Turkish Council of State and Cumhuriyet newspaper, [cite news|url=|title=The Turkish Leviathan under arrest?|date=2008-01-26|accessdate=2008-04-22|last=Akyol|first=Mustafa|authorlink=Mustafa Akyol|work=Turkish Daily News] the assassination of several Christian missionaries and Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, [Sabrina Tavernise (2008-01-28). [ 13 Arrested in Push to Stifle Turkish Ultranationalists Suspected in Political Killings] . "New York Times".] as well as allegedly plotting the assassination of Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. [ [ Plot to kill Orhan Pamuk foiled] . "Times of India". 25 Jan 2008] [cite news|url=
title='Plot to kill' Nobel laureate
author=Lea, Richard

Women's rights

In its second report on women's role in social, economic and political life in Turkey, the European Parliament emphasized that respecting human rights, including women’s rights, is a condition sine qua non for Turkey's membership of the EU. According to the report, Turkey's legal framework on women's rights "has in general been satisfactory, but its substantive implementation remains flawed". [cite press release|url=|title=Women's rights in Turkey: MEPs say improvements still needed|accessdate=2007-04-13|publisher=European Parliament|date=2007-02-13]

Conscientious objectors

Turkey is one of the two states (with Azerbaijan) among the 46 members of the Council of Europe which has refused to recognize the status of conscientious objectors or give them an alternative to military service. [cite news|url=|title=Leading Turkish writer faces jail after incurring wrath of military|accessdate=2007-04-13|work=Independent|first=Peter|last=Popham|date=2006-06-07]

Public reactions

In the EU

Public opinion in EU countries generally opposes Turkish membership, though with varying degrees of intensity. The Eurobarometer September-October 2006 survey cite web|title=European Commission: "Eurobarometer 66 - Public Opinion in the European Union", Sep-Oct 2006, p.223|url=|accessdate=2007-09-01] shows that 59% of EU-27 citizens are against Turkey joining the EU, while only about 28% are in favor. Nearly all citizens (about 9 in 10) expressed concerns about human rights as the leading cause. In the earlier March-May 2006 Eurobarometer, citizens from the new member states were more in favor of Turkey joining (44% in favor) than the old EU-15 (38% in favor). At the time of the survey, the country whose population most strongly opposed Turkish membership was Austria (con: 81%), while Romania was most in favor of the accession (pro: 66%). On a wider political scope, the highest support comes from the Turkish Cypriot Community (pro: 67%) (which is not recognized as sovereign state and is "de facto" not EU territory and out of the European institutions). These communities are even more in favor of the accession than the Turkish populace itself (pro: 54%). cite web|title=European Commission: "Special Eurobarometer 255 - Attitudes towards EU Enlargement.", July 2006, p. 72|url=|accessdate=2006-09-05] Opposition in Denmark to Turkish membership was polled at 60% in October 2007, despite the Danish government's support for Turkey's EU bid.cite news|title=Disagreement over Turkish EU membership|publisher=Copenhagen Post|date=2007-10-22|url=|accessdate=2007-10-22]

In Turkey

The opening of membership talks with the EU in December 2004 was celebrated by Turkey with much fanfare,cite news|work=Economist|title=The ever lengthening road|date=2006-12-07|url=|accessdate=2007-07-04] but the Turkish populace has become increasingly eurosceptic as negotiations are delayed. Based on what it views as lukewarm support for its accession to the EU and alleged double standards in its negotiations (France and Austria have indicated they will hold referendums on Turkey's membership), the Turkish public has become increasingly eurosceptic in recent times. A mid-2006 Eurobarometer survey revealed that 43% of Turkish citizens view the EU positively; just 35% trust the EU, 45% support enlargement and just 29% support an EU constitution. [cite news|url=|title=New Eurobarometer poll results show a drop in Turkish support for the EU|work=Hurriyet|accessdate=2007-04-13]

Official point of view

* Former French President Jacques Chirac, a supporter of the accession of Turkey into the EU, had to agree that the amendment to the French constitution authorising the ratification of the proposed European Constitution [cite web|url=|title=LOI constitutionnelle n° 2005-204 du 1er mars 2005 modifiant le titre XV de la Constitution|language=French|accessdate=2007-04-13] contains a clause saying that a referendum is required before France can give its approval to Turkey or other future candidates to the European Union (the amendment excludes states that have already signed agreements). [cite news|url=|title=Deal struck over Turkey-EU talks|accessdate=2007-04-13|work=BBC News] Some politicians opposed to the constitutional treaty, such as Philippe de Villiers, argued that the treaty paved the way to Turkish membership, which they deem highly undesirable.
* Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has said that he may hold a referendum on the issue. Recently, Austrian President Heinz Fischer has strongly suggested a pan-European referendum on the issue, given its great importance for the future of the EU. Recent Greek governments supported Turkish membership hoping that Turkey would soften up its stance in a number of issues of conflict between Turkey and Greece during the process of and after joining the EU. However, opinion polls from the end of December 2004 show that opposition is twice as strong among the Greek public as support.Fact|date=July 2007
* European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that Turkey is not ready to join the EU "tomorrow nor the day after tomorrow", but its membership negotiations should continue. He also called on France and other member states to honour the decision to continue accession talks, describing it as a matter of credibility for the Union. [cite news|url=|work=Zaman,, DPA, Reuters|publisher=Southeast European Times |date=2007-07-22|title=Barroso says Turkey not ready for EU membership, urges continued negotiationsVerify credibility|date=August 2008]
* The EU Progress Report from 9 November 2005 stated that:

"On 29 July 2005, Turkey signed the Additional Protocol adapting the EC Turkey Association Agreement to the accession of 10 new countries on 1 May 2004. At the same time, Turkey issued a declaration stating that signature of the Additional Protocol did not amount to recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. On 21 September, the EU adopted a counter-declaration indicating that Turkey’s declaration was unilateral, did not form part of the Protocol and had no legal effect on Turkey’s obligations under the Protocol. The EU declaration stressed that recognition of all Member States was a necessary component of the accession process. It also underlined the need for supporting the efforts of the Secretary General of the UN to bring about a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem which would contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region." [cite web|url=|title=Final Progress Report for Turkey|accessdate=2007-04-13]

* On 2006-11-29, the BBC reported that the European Commission members had decided to suspend parts of the talks with Turkey regarding accession, following the failure to reach agreement over the various issue surrounding the occupation of Cyprus. [cite news|url=|title=EU urged to freeze Turkey talks|accessdate=2008-08-25|date=2006-11-29|work=BBC News]

ee also

* Foreign relations of the European Union
** Franco-Turkish relations
** Turkey-Germany relations
** Greco-Turkish relations
** Cyprus dispute
* European Union-Turkey Customs Union
* Mediterranean Union


External links

* [ Republic of Turkey Secretariat General for EU Affairs]
* [ Myths and Facts about Enlargement] , European Commission.
* [ Turkey: key documents] , European Commission.

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