Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, started in October 2005,
are going very slowly for many reasons, including the government’s
continued refusal to open its ports and airports to vessels and
aircraft from Greek Cypriot-controlled Cyprus (an EU member since
2004). This issue will come up for review at the EU summit during the
current Swedish Presidency. In the worst-case scenario, considered
unlikely, negotiations could be suspended. Turkey has opened only 11
of the 35 accession chapters and closed one of them. Political life
has become highly polarised between the government of the Islamist
Justice and Development Party and the so-called Kemalist secular
establishment. As a result, reforms have ground to a halt. Meanwhile,
support among Turks for EU entry is declining and France and Germany
oppose the country’s full membership and instead are pressing for an ill-defined privileged partnership.
The Ergenekon trial
Politics: The AKP Loses Power in Local Elections
The Sluggish Pace of Reforms
Cyprus: A Looming Deadline
Armenia: Signs of Rapprochement
Foreign Policy: ‘Zero Problems with Neighbours’
The Kurdish Issue
1. Turkey’s Progress in Negotiating Chapters
2. Timeline: The Long and Winding Road to the Opening of EU Accession
3. Basic Statistics, Turkey and Spain
As Turkey approaches its fourth year of negotiating accession to the
EU, it is becoming increasingly clear that the reforms yet to be put
in place and the obstacles to be surmounted, coupled with the
opposition in some EU nations to the county’s full membership,
make Ankara’s chances of success look slim, but not impossible.
As of June the socially conservative government of Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, catapulted to power in 2002 when the Islamist Justice and
Development Party (AKP) won a landslide victory and re-elected in
2007, had opened 11 of the 35 negotiating chapters, compared with 25
chapters in the case of the much smaller Croatia. It had closed only
one of them (science and research, which consists of one and a half
pages, see Appendix 1). Croatia has overtaken Turkey on the accession
road and not just because of its much smaller population (4.4
million, compared with Turkey’s 72 million), which makes fitting it into the EU-27 much easier.
Seven of Turkey’s chapters remain blocked by the European
Council as of December 2006 because of Ankara’s failure to open
its ports and airports to Greek-Cypriots –the EU could suspend
membership negotiations if Ankara does not meet the deadline this
December to do so– and four are opposed by France, which has
exercised its veto as of July 2007 and effectively moved the goal
posts, on the grounds that chapters in the area of economic and
monetary integration would bring Turkey closer to EU membership. An
additional chapter (agriculture) is blocked by both France and the
European Council. President Nicolas Sarkozy says ‘Turkey has no
place in Europe’ and is pushing for a privileged partnership
that would also include Russia.
Sarkozy has been using Turkey to gain domestic political advantage. The
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, also publicly backs the partnership
idea. The mood in other EU countries towards Turkey’s full membership
(it has enjoyed Customs Union since 1996) has also cooled. Among the
few governments that actively support Turkey’s full membership,
provided it meets the criteria, are Spain, which is the EU’s President
in the first half of 2010, Italy, the UK and Sweden (the current EU
In Turkey, the pace of reform has stalled. By June 2009 only around
one-sixth of a self-developed list of legal reform measures announced
in April 2007 had been passed. Global rankings show that the country
is seriously underperforming in a wide range of areas. It stands 59th
in the World Bank’s latest Doing Business Report, 58th in Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption
Perceptions Index, 75th in the Heritage Foundation’s 2009
Economic Freedom Index, 84th in the latest UN Human Development
Index, 102nd in the Reporters Without Borders 2008 Press Freedom
Index and 123rd in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.
It is listed as only ‘partially free’ in Freedom House’s
2008 Freedom in the World Report, and as a ‘hybrid’
regime, ranking 88th, in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s first ever survey of democracies (2007).
The AKP was very reformist in its first three years. One of the many
reasons why it won the 2002 general election, to the horror of the
so-called Kemalist establishment, a loose coalition that includes the
military, the judiciary and the bureaucracy which embraces
secularism, Turkish nationalism, state-led development and a strong
role for the armed forces, was that it was pro-EU and had gained the
moral high ground over a corrupt and thoroughly discredited political
class. The establishment is named after Kemal Atatürk, who
founded the Republic of Turkey in 1923 on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
The AKP gained much in terms of legitimacy by being a pro-EU party
and thus perceived as being not very Islamist. In its first two years
in office, the AKP did more to bring Turkey closer to the EU –through
a reform package which led to the decision at the December 2004
Copenhagen summit to start negotiations– than all previous
Kemalist post-war predecessors. The AKP followed up the reforms started by the previous (coalition) government.
Once accession negotiations began in earnest, however, as of October
2005 and the economic and political cost of EU reforms began to be
felt, the AKP’s initial enthusiasm waned, sapped, to some
extent, by the anti-membership statements coming out of Paris and
Berlin and a feeling that however hard it might try the door would
never be opened. Furthermore, support for the EU in Turkey is
declining (see Figure 1), particularly among the young. A survey
conducted in Izmir among secondary school and university students showed only 30% support for the EU.
Figure 1. Support for EU Membership in Turkey, 2004-08
The European Court of Human Rights’ decision in 2005 to uphold
Turkey’s ban on Islamic-style headscarves (turban) on
university campuses is said to have marked a turning point for
Erdogan (whose wife wears the headscarf) as he had hoped a favourable
ruling would have enabled him to relax the rigidly secular norms and
usher in more personal religious freedom in the public space.
The European Commission’s regular annual reports on Turkey’s
progress towards accession make it very clear there is a long way to
go, particularly in the areas of drawing up a new constitution,
civilian oversight of the security forces, the judiciary, human
rights, protection of minorities and freedom of expression. To be fair to the AKP, its task has not been made any easier by the
antagonism of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by
the authoritarian reformist Atatürk, and the far-right
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who oppose virtually every move of
the AKP. The CHP, led by the 70-year-old Deniz Baykal since 1992,
appealed 16 bills related to EU reforms to the Constitutional Court
in 2008 for both domestic political reasons and its worries about the secular regime.
The AKP is caught between a rock and a hard place; it has been unable
to transcend the limited political space created by the army and the
CHP/MHP. Yet this cannot be continually used as an excuse not to
engage in politics sensibly. The top military brass, the self-proclaimed guardians of the 1982 constitution (drawn up after
their last direct coup in 1980 and approved in a referendum when
voters were not fully free), remain deeply suspicious of Erdogan and
the dismantling of some of the pillars of Kemalism. ‘It is a
historical irony that the very domestic forces that Atatürk
tried to crush 80 years ago are now in the process of fulfilling his
vision of a Turkey firmly rooted in the West’, said Ingmar
Karlsson, the former Swedish Consul in Istanbul. ‘The pillars
that the Ottoman Empire was based on –religion, ethnic
diversity and imperial heritage which Kemalism tried to cast off–
are again becoming prominent’. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the reforms needed for EU membership, among which are a requirement to end the military’s
tutelage of Turkey’s democracy. Kemalism, according to the
renowned sociologist Ernest Gellner (1925-95), was as reactionary and
dogmatic as any religious orthodoxy and it is proving very resistant
to the change that Turkey needs if it is to meet the EU’s
The army tried to prevent Abdullah Gül, the former Foreign
Minister, from becoming President in 2007, among other reasons
because his wife wears the Islamic-style headscarf.
Erdogan called an election four months ahead of schedule and was
returned to power with a larger slice of the vote (from 34% in 2002 to
46%) and Gül was elected President by the Turkish National Assembly for
a seven-year term. The CHP boycotted the vote and denounced Gül as an ‘enemy of the republic’. No generals attended their new
Commander-in-Chief’s inaugural ceremony. The next presidential
election due in August 2014 will be by direct universal suffrage. In
2008, the AKP narrowly escaped a ban after the Constitutional Court
found it guilty of anti-secular activities. This climate of hostility has limited the AKP’s room for manoeuvre, and, in addition, the party itself shows a lack of
appetite for reform, perhaps because it believes (mistakenly in the
view of liberals who supported the AKP in 2002 and have drifted away
from it) it no longer needs the EU project to sustain itself in
power. Liberals who initially supported the AKP have become
disenchanted with it, but, sadly, have no other party they can vote
for that would fulfil their aspirations of Turkey joining the EU.
Two positive developments this year could lead to a more fruitful
relationship between the AKP and orthodox Kemalists and secular
fundamentalists and hence invigorate the EU accession process. The
first is the hugely important Ergenekon trial of ardent nationalists
from various walks of life, including retired generals, journalists,
politicians and mafia bosses, who allegedly planned to provoke a
military coup through assassinations and other destabilising actions.
That this case has come to light is a triumph for the judiciary. If
the prosecution gets to the bottom of what looks like a military-led
parallel security state and sentences those responsible Turkey will
have taken a big step towards becoming a full-blooded Western-style
democracy. The other development is the loss of power of the AKP in
April’s local elections, which might make it more disposed to reach out to its aggressively secular political opponents.
The Ergenekon trial
This case represents an historic opportunity to confront what is
known in Turkey as the ‘deep state’, a state within a
state, and assert civilian control over the army. According to some
analysts, the Ergenekon network began as part of the Turkish Gladio
network set up in various European countries with the support of the
CIA against communism during the Cold War. US military bases were
established in Turkey in 1952. An Italian magistrate, who has been
investigating the Gladio network in Italy, believes Turkey is the
only country where the network was not dissolved as it mutated into a parallel state structure.
The highly complex and confusing series of cases could lead to the
unearthing of many unexplained events in Turkey over the past three
decades, including extrajudicial killings of dissident Kurds by
counter-insurgency forces during the 24-year-long separatist
rebellion by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and
the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian editor, who had
been threatened by a retired general, Veli Kucuk, before his death.
Kucuk, under arrest, is said to be one of Ergenekon’s ringleaders.
In 1996, a lorry ran into a Mercedes near the small town of Susurluk.
A police chief, a convicted fugitive who was an ultranationalist and
a member of the Turkish Parliament were in the Mercedes. The
ultranationalist, who died in the accident, was the man driving the
car when nationalist youths killed seven students in Bahçelievler
18 years earlier. However, the opportunity to uncover the powerful
connections of the ‘deep state’ was not taken up. In
2005, a bombing of a bookshop owned by a Kurdish nationalist in the
south-eastern town of Semdinli, during which two members of the
Turkish security forces were caught red-handed, gave Turkey another
chance. However, the prosecutor was disbarred by the Supreme Board of
Prosecutors and Judges (HSYK) after indicting the land forces
commander of the time as being the founder of a gang that was
responsible for the bookshop bombing. The three main suspects –two
non-commissioned officers and a PKK informant– were given
nearly 40 years each by a civil court at the end of a lengthy trial
process that lasted close to two years. However, in May 2008 the
Supreme Court of Appeals declared the case a mistrial and ordered the suspects be retried by a military court.
The growing body of evidence is an embarrassment for the top brass.
According to analysts, it has exposed divisions within the army
between soldiers in favour of closer links with some of Turkey’s
Euro-Asian neighbours, such as Russia, and more pro-Western,
Atlanticist soldiers who want the country to join the EU. But in
today’s highly polarised climate, many of the AKP’s
opponents doubt the veracity of the case simply because the government favours it and, in the words of a former senior Turkish
official, the AKP is using it as a ‘tool of harassment’
to create a climate of fear. Some people have been detained without
charges for an excessive amount of time. In May, thousands marched in Ankara to protest at the investigation.
The military, the second largest in NATO, has also been put on the
defensive by a document leaked in the Taraf newspaper with
plans to undermine the AKP and the faith-based movement of Fethullah
Gülen. The ‘Action Plan to Combat Reactionarism’,
allegedly signed by Dursun Cicek, a Colonel in the army’s
psychological warfare unit, called for ‘mobilising agents’
with the AKP to discredit it through their actions and words and to
plant weapons in the homes of members of Turkey’s largest and
most influential Islamic brotherhood.
The authenticity of the document has not yet been established. If
proved to be false, it would indicate an attempt to discredit the
military and, if true, confirm the ‘deep state’s’ mindset and its
attempts to overthrow the AKP. Either way, the development is worrying.
The General Staff's Military Prosecutor's Office stated that the
alleged plan to undermine the AKP and Gülen movement was not
prpared by any department of the General Staff, and as the original
version of the document could not be found legal proceedings against
the Colonel thought to have prepared it were ruled out. Some Turkish
jurists said a military investigation into the alleged plot was
unlikely to produce a result that would satisfy the questions of the
public and that it should be thoroughly investigated by a civilian
court. Parliament passed a groundbreaking law at the end of June
empowering civilian courts, not military ones, to prosecute military personnel in peacetime.
According to some reports, the prosecutors in the Ergenekon case are
followers of Gülen, but this seemed most unlikely given that the
judiciary is one of the pillars of Kemalism. Turkey has long suffered
from conspiracy theories. However, the theory that the authors of the
document are a group of renegade officers gained credence after a
retired General told Taraf that he knew of some people who were seeking to discredit the AKP.
Politics: The AKP Loses Power in Local Elections
If Prime Minister Erdogan believed that storming out early this year
from a debate with Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, at Davos
(Switzerland) over the war in Gaza, would lead to a surge in votes
for the AKP in the municipal elections on 29 March he was mistaken. The party won, but its share of the vote (39%) was well below the 46%
gained in the 2007 general election and the even higher level that
Erdogan was explicitly hoping for in the local elections. The AKP
lost 12 cities, including Antalya, which Erdogan visited 26 times.
Nevertheless, the AKP’s share of the vote was more than the
combined vote of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP).
There were several elements behind the reduced share of the vote:
Turkey’s wobbling economy, which Erdogan had claimed would not
be affected by the global recession; disenchantment among AKP’s
liberal supporters at the slow pace of reform; the government’s
failure to deliver on issues such as easing the headscarf ban that
disheartened the AKP’s pious constituents; and the fielding of some harder line candidates that frightened away voters.
The AKP is no longer such a broad mosque party; it is
becoming increasingly harder for Erdogan to satisfy all of the many
strands of the party all of the time. The electoral landscape, based on
the local elections, can be divided into four segments: the coastal
area of western Turkey voted for the CHP and cities in the central
Aegean for the MHP; in Istanbul, the AKP mayor lost a lot of votes to
the CHP; in the south-east, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party
(DTP) took back all major cities from the AKP (probably the biggest
shock for the AKP) and won 75% of the vote in Diyarbakir, the
provincial capital, even though the TRT state television finally
launched a 24-hour Kurdish channel, and in central Anatolia, the AKP
strengthened its position in its heartland. According to some
commentators, Turks did not feel compelled, as they did in the 2007
general election, to vote for the AKP in order to support democracy.
The results of the local elections showed Turks’ desire to check the
Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet. Ali Babacan, the Foreign Minister and
former Chief EU Negotiator, moved back to a strengthened Economy
Ministry with a wider remit, and Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan’s
chief foreign policy adviser, became Foreign Minister. The neo-Ottomanist Davutoglu is the chief architect of Turkey’s
more active regional engagement, summed up in the doctrine of ‘zero
problems with neighbours’. In a separate move, Egemen Bagis
became Chief EU Negotiator and the post was given cabinet rank for
the first time. Davutoglu and Bagis, however, are perceived as not
sharing the same deep commitment to the EU as President Gül.
Dispassionate observers are hoping the loss of political power at the
local level will be a humbling experience for Erdogan and temper the
authoritarian streak in him. Hakan Altinay, the Executive Director of
the Open Society Foundation in Istanbul, says Erdogan needs to ‘acquire a bit of Nelson Mandela’s touch’ and
‘reach out to groups who now view him with utter suspicion’
in order to ‘heal the country’s dangerous political
divisions’. Erdogan’s call for a boycott of all newspapers and TV channels owned by the Dogan Group, Turkey’s largest media group and a
thorn in the side of the government for exposing corruption, is
symptomatic of the problem and the need for Erdogan to be more
magnanimous to his critics and political adversaries. The Dogan
Group, which owns nearly half of Turkey’s print and
broadcasting media, has been fined more than €400 million for
alleged tax irregularities, a charge it disputes and appealed
against. None of the tax experts that Dogan consulted said it had done anything wrong.
That said, Erdogan’s secularist critics would have more moral
authority today if they had not looked the other way when the military threatened to intervene and stop Gül from becoming
President in 2007. As Altinay points out, the constitutional court
‘made a mockery of the constitution it is charged with
protecting by establishing quorum requirements (where none had ever
existed or been needed) and by annulling constitutional amendments
(when they had no right to do so). When defenders or members of the
establishment violate rules and norms so blatantly, or seek to
undermine constitutional order, previously marginalised newcomers,
such as Erdogan and his AKP, can all too easily follow suit. On both
sides, lack of principle and accountability damages Turkey’.
The Sluggish Pace of Reforms
The AKP has gained a lot of credibility by pushing ahead with the
Ergenekon trial and taking on the ‘deep state’, which would probably never have happened with another party in power.
Whether the AKP’s motives are entirely altruistic is another
matter: the trial serves the government’s interests of weeding out its hardline opponents.
Meanwhile, legal and administrative measures in other
areas have led to a worsening of the human rights situation. The
revised Anti-Terrorism Law of 2006 treats children between the ages of
15 and 18 as adults. Since its promulgation, more than 800 teenagers
face prosecution in adult courts for allegedly supporting the terrorist
PKK after throwing stones at the police during anti-government riots in
the south-east or changing pro-PKK slogans. All are charged under
Article 220/6 of the penal code, which criminalises acts on behalf of a
Some of the children have been held in prison before coming to trial.
Human Rights Watch says this is in violation of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, to which Turkey is a party.
Police violence has also been on the rise. In one incident, Engin
Ceber died last October in hospital after being held and beaten up in
prison. He was arrested along with others for protesting against the
impunity of Turkish authorities in the case of the shooting a year
earlier of Ferhat Gerçek. In a landmark statement, the Turkish
Minister of Justice accepted the responsibility of the state for
Ceber’s death and an indictment was drawn up against 60 state
officials. More than 50 people have been killed by the police since the change in the anti-terrorism law.
According to Amnesty International’s latest report on Turkey,
issued in May, cases of torture and other ill-treatment have increased, despite the government’s zero tolerance policy,
dissenting views have been met with prosecution and intimidation,
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
persisted and implementation of laws aimed at preventing violence
against women and girls remained slow.
Although Article 301 of the penal code, which criminalises ‘denigration
of Turkishness’, has been amended, it remains, in the words of Amnesty,
an ‘unfair limitation to freedom of expression’. Investigations under
the new Article 301, which makes it a crime to ‘denigrate the Turkish
nation’ continued, authorised by the Justice Minister as required by
the amendments. Turkey’s highest appeals court upheld in May a case
against the 2006 Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk, brought by
various individuals demanding compensation for the remarks he made in
2005 that landed him in court. That case was dropped under a
technicality and in the wake of international outrage. Pamuk told a
Swiss magazine that ‘30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed
in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it’. The
compensation case was most unlikely to succeed, but it exposed the need
for an overhaul of legislation to remove all articles and clauses that
allow state institutions and individuals to bring charges that then
have to be considered by the judiciary.
Law 5816 regarding crimes committed against Kemal Atatürk, the
revered founder of the Turkish Republic, has yet to be amended. His
portrait hangs in most shops and restaurants and adorns all banknotes. An Istanbul court ban on access to the video-sharing
website YouTube more than two years ago, after Greek videos accused
Atatürk of homosexuality, has still not been lifted.
In the military sphere, there is still a lack of civilian control of
the gendarmerie, which oversees security in rural areas, the army has
not renounced its political role and there is little civilian
oversight of military assets and budgets. The role of the once
all-powerful National Security Council has diminished, however. It has been headed since 2003 by a civilian.
Political parties still have to win a minimum of 10%
of total votes in order to gain seats in the national parliament. In
Spain, the barrier is 5%. Turkey’s threshold prevents the formation of
a parliament reflecting more accurately the country’s political
realities and skews parliamentary representation: the AKP won 34% of
the vote in the 2002 general elections and 67% of seats in the Assembly
as only one other party cleared the hurdle. Half the electorate was
thus disfranchised. The AKP won 47% of the votes in 2007 and 62% of
seats as two other parties cleared the hurdle. The EU asked Turkey in
the 2007 Accession Partnership to ‘align with best practices in EU
member states as regards legislation on political parties’ and to make
party financing fully transparent. Ironically, given the Kemalists deep
suspicion of the
AKP, the 10% hurdle has given the party a disproportionate strength in
On the constitutional front, there are still no signs of amending the
constitution, drafted under military rule in 1982, which accords too
much authority to the state and not enough rights to the individual,
a situation that contradicts EU norms.
The AKP’s approach, in its first government (2002-07) was piecemeal,
concentrating on issues dear to the hearts of its bedrock pious
supporters, such as easing the ban on the wearing of the Islamic-style
headscarf. This only antagonised its opponents –who took the issue to
the Constitutional Court and got the reform reversed– and made politics
even more factional. The CHP and the MHP, emboldened by their results
in the municipal elections and an AKP perceived as weakened, still
refuse to co-operate with the AKP over root and branch reform of the
constitution. One of the opposition’s main reasons for blocking any
talk of reforming the constitution is that it fears the AKP will use it
as a way to gain power in the judiciary.
The passing of a trade union law required for opening
a chapter of EU negotiations has also been the casualty of ideological
battles and a reform of the outdated commercial code has been stuck in
parliament since last December. Turkey does not yet have basic trade
union rights: there are restrictive thresholds for trade unions to be
eligible for collective bargaining, restrictive provisions relating to
the right to strike and to collective bargaining for public-sector
employees, and limitations for certain public-sector employees on
joining trade unions. The international Labour Organisation (ILO) has
long complained that Turkey is out of step with the EU. As a result of
the lack of a new trade union law, the chapter on social policy
could not be opened, as hoped for during the Czech Republic’s EU
Presidency, and only one chapter (taxation) was opened.
The AKP lacks the two-thirds majority in Parliament which would
enable it to push through reforms, but even if it had such a position
use of it in a country as polarised as Turkey would only provoke the secular autocrats.
While the Ergenekon trial is exposing a violent
parallel state, the AKP, through a subtle process of societal pressure,
has been fomenting what the Turkish academic Kerem Öktem, a Research
Fellow at St Antony’s, Oxford University, calls a ‘moderate Muslim
society.’ This is his shorthand for a society where ‘a few areas of
relative social freedom in cities like Istanbul and Izmir and tourist
areas notwithstanding, girls are educated with the aim of being good
mothers and might also work until they get married, where modesty rules
(either headscarf or at least long sleeves) and where alcohol is served
if at all only in dedicated areas outside town centres, not visible to
the large public.
Religion has become the central unifying factor in what is otherwise a
diverse society, and creationism is being taught alongside evolution as
an equally important scientific theory’.
Two developments provide an insight in terms of
tolerance. One is the rising number of murders of transsexuals,
transvestites and homosexuals
and the other is the sacking earlier this year of Dr Cigdem Atakuman,
editor of a leading science magazine for a cover story on Charles
Darwin. The Darwin cover in the March issue of Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology), published by a government agency, the
Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBITAK), was
replaced with one on global warming (see Figure 2). Intelligent
design is taught in some Turkish schools, thanks to some extent to
Adnan Oktar, a preacher who set up the Bilim Arastirma Vakfi (Scientific Research Foundation), and the schools of Fetullah Gülen. Oktar’s Atlas of Creation has been distributed around the Muslim world and Europe.
The decision to sack Dr Atakuman was made by Ömer Cebecci,
Vice-president of TÜBITAK. He is a pious Muslim and a former
professor at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
during the 1980s. The AKP has tended to fill leading positions in
public institutions with people (generally men) sympathetic to its
moderate Islamist worldview. Leading Turkish scientists, shocked by
the move, called for the resignation of Cebecci.
Figure 2. Darwin cover replaced by one on global warming
A study by Binnaz Toprak, a political science professor, shows how
basically all groups who do not confirm to the AKP-promoted lifestyle
suffer from some degree of social pressure.
She concludes that while the large cities in the western part of the
country can accommodate niches for all social groups, a certain version
of ‘modern Islam’ has become hegemonic in most cities in central and
eastern Anatolia and the Black Sea. She suggests that all
non-conforming groups, ranging from male students with long hair and
earrings, women without headscarves to heterodox Muslim groups like
Alevis suffer from various forms of discrimination and marginalisation,
which are often supported by state agencies, while attacks on people
who are/look different are often not investigated by the police.
Perhaps one should not be too surprised by this
worrying development. Large parts of central Anatolia, the heartland of
the AKP, were never noted for their pluralism in lifestyles, and
Christian Democrat parties, when in power in Europe, also sought to
push their mindset. Indeed, the AKP prefers to be likened to a
Christian Democrat party
in the Muslim context than to be called Islamist, a term it disputes.
The Turkish version of secularism is very sui generis:
it is neither a separation of religion from the state nor a
disestablishment, but the micro management of a certain type of Sunni
Islam financed by the state and administered by the Diyanet, a vast
religious services ‘ministry’ with more than 80,000 imams on its
payroll and a larger budget than eight other ministries combined. The
number of mosques has been rising briskly under the AKP and there are
now more than 85,000. The Diyanet became more powerful after the 1980
military coup thanks to promotion of Islam by the generals as a way to
counter socialism and communism and making religious teaching mandatory
in schools. They instituted the ‘Turkish-Islamic Synthesis’ as the
semi-formal state doctrine.
Although Turkey is predominantly Muslim (98% of the population), Islam is not a monolithic religion in the country.
Most Turks belong to the loosely defined Sunni interpretation of
Islam, but the practice also includes mystical and folk Islam as well
as conservative and more moderate understanding of Islam. This mosaic
of religions as well as sects is a carry-over from the multicultural
Ottoman Empire, the result of which was that a uniform faith and
practice was not imposed on its subjects. TheDiyanet
acknowledges this diversity and promotes a moderate, tolerant and
embracing perception of Islam. However, the Alevis, the largest
religious minority and estimated to account for up to 20% of the
population, do not enjoy the same rights as the majority Sunnis. They
are regarded by their Sunni counterparts as being deeply unorthodox,
often even as not being Islamic at all. The European Court of Human
Rights ruled in October 2007 that Turkey’s education system was not
treating Alevis properly, a decision forcing changes
in the mandatory religion classes.
Turkey’s brand of secularism also does not yet provide sufficiently for the protection of non-Muslim
minorities (0.2% of the population), something that is inherent in
the EU’s understanding of religious freedom.
Barrack Obama, the US President, reminded deputies when he spoke to the
Turkish Parliament in April that the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki,
an island off Istanbul, closed in 1971 had still not been re-opened.
Religious identity is still written on every Turkish ID card, exposing
those who are of other faiths.
While women’s rights have been enhanced by amending
parts of the Penal Code and the constitution as of 2001, Turkey’s
ranking in the UN Development Programme’s gender empowerment index
nevertheless dropped from 63 in 2002 to 90 out of 173 countries today.
The World Economic Forum’s gender gap report shows a similar fall, from
105 in 2002 to 123 in 2008 out of 130 countries. The new code treats
female sexuality as a matter of individual rights, rather than family
honour. Rape in marriage and sexual harassment in the workplace are
criminal offences and sexual crimes in general are no longer classified
as crimes against society, the family or public morality.The regulation
of crimes such as rape, abduction or sexual abuse against women as
crimes against society, and not as crimes against individuals, was a
manifestation of the code’s foundational premise that considered
women’s bodies and sexuality as a property of men, family or society. Family courts have been established, employment laws amended and
there are programmes to tackle domestic violence and improve access
to education for girls. The startling contrast between the legal position of women and Turkey’s low ranking in gender
empowerment is basically due to socially conservative traditions and
mentalities in rural areas that die hard. This year, for example, there has been a spate of ‘honour killings’.
Cyprus: A Looming Deadline
The biggest obstacle to Turkey’s full EU membership is
to resolve the 35-year conflict over the divided island of Cyprus (see
Figure 3). As part of a review at the EU summit this December of
Turkey’s membership bid, the government faces a deadline to implement
the Ankara protocol signed in July 2005. Turkey does not recognise the
Greek Cypriot government of Cyprus and still refuses to open its ports
and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes until the EU ends its
trade embargo of Turkish-held northern Cyprus,
recognised as a state only by Turkey.
The EU accepts the need to phase out the embargo, but
says Turkey must act first because Cyprus is a full member of the EU.
The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by the EU as the lawful government
of the whole of the divided island, though its writ does not extend
north of the United Nations buffer zone established after the Turkish
invasion in 1974, in response to a Greek military junta backed coup
in Cyprus. The invasion came after a decade of sporadic intercommunal
violence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
A total breakdown in Turkey’s accession negotiations
was avoided in December 2006 when the government failed to meet the
previous deadline on Cyprus. Instead, the European Council decided to
block the opening of negotiations on eight chapters. Since then there
has been positive declarations in support of re-unification on both
sides, but no agreement is in sight. And the issue has been further
compounded by the return to power in April’s legislative election in
the breakaway Turkish north of the nationalist National
Unity Party (UBP).
The UBP government is making the already complex settlement
negotiations conducted by President Mehmet Ali Talat –whose
left-wing pro-reunification Republican Turkish Party (CTP) lost the
legislative election– even more difficult. The UBP captured 44%
of the vote, giving it a majority in the 50-seat parliament with 26
deputies and opening the way for a one-party government, and the CTP
29.2% of the vote and 15 seats. Economic woes and the government’s
policies were behind the CTP’s defeat. Talat is pressing ahead
with what he calls a ‘bicommunal, bizonal federation’,
alongside Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot President. The UBP’s 72-year-old leader, Dervis Eroglu, less enthusiastic
about the idea, is pushing for his party to have a seat at the negotiating table.
Turkish Cypriots and the government in Ankara continue
to feel let down by the Greek Cypriot rejection in the 2004 referendum
of a UN-brokered deal (known as the Annan Plan). Erdogan won a lot of
sympathy from the international community for overturning 30 years of
policy and pressing theTurkish-Cypriots to endorse the reunification
plan in a referendum, which they did with a 65% majority. The EU then
rubbed salt in the wounds by reneging on its promise to open direct
trade with Turkish Cypriots. More than three-quarters of Greek-Cypriots
in the south –guaranteed EU membership regardless of how they voted–
rejected the deal. This was a huge blow to the international community,
since the UN, the EU and Turkey had put a considerable effort into
winning support for the plan. One week later only the southern part
joined the EU as both sides had to approve the plan. Erdogan, who took
a big domestic political risk by pressing for a ‘yes’
vote, described the accession of the divided island as ‘a big mistake’,
a view now shared by other EU countries.
A much more recent aggravation for Turkish Cypriots is the judgement
of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), issued in April, affecting
one of the most contentious issues of the talks. It ruled that courts
in the EU should enforce a Greek Cypriot judgement on disputed
property. Talat, however, said his government would continue distributing titles to land owned by absentee Greek Cypriots and
added that, if a UK court followed the ECJ’s guidance and enforced Greek Cypriot claims on land in the north, ‘our people
will push us to get out of negotiations’. Close to 80% of property in the north is believed to be owned by Greek Cypriots who fled in the 1970s. Many Britons have bought
holiday homes in the north and their property faces an uncertain future.
Christofias’ Cyprus Communist Party (AKEL) beat the
pugnacious incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos of the centre-right Democratic
Party in the February 2008 presidential election. Papadopoulous based
his re-election campaign on having virulently blocked the Annan Plan
and his promise to say ‘no’ to any attempt to resurrect it. The more
pragmatic Christofias, elected in the second round, has reversed the
previous hardline approach and overturned taboos, addressing Greek
Cypriots on television to prepare for a compromise solution and warning
that not all Greek Cypriots would be able to return to their old homes. In June’s European elections, Greek Cypriot parties that support the current round of UN-backed negotiations on re-unifying
Cyprus took 70% of the vote, but turnout (58.8%) was the lowest on
record, although well above the EU-27 average. Turkish Cypriots were excluded from the election.
One of the few positive signs over the last year has been the opening
of Ledra Street in the heart of Nicosia, bringing to six the number
of points at which people can cross between the south and the north.
It had been divided since 1964, when an outbreak of intercommunal
fighting led British soldiers to lay barbed wire to cut off the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
Both Talat and Christofias are much more committed to
finding a solution than their respective predecessors (they have been
engaged in full negotiations since last September), but progress has
been very slow. The answer lies as much in Ankara and the military as
in the divided island. Turkey would benefit the most from a solution:
not only would its EU bid be greatly enhanced, but the considerable
economic cost of propping up the northern part of the island, not least
the stationing of around 35,000 regular Turkish troops, would come to
an end. Cyprus as a whole would also benefit. ‘From being a burden and
source of tension, Cyprus, with its low taxes, strategic position and
relatively efficient government, would become a confident, cosmopolitan
society and booming beacon of prosperity’, says Hugh Pope, the
Turkey/Cyprus project director for the International Crisis Group.
Having gone out on a limb in 2004 over
the Annan Plan, Erdogan is wary of sticking his neck out again unless
he could win something in return.
Armenia: Signs of Rapprochement
While very little progress has been made over Cyprus, moves are afoot
to bury the hatchet with neighbouring Armenia, another protracted issue (see Figure 4).
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of its ally
Azerbaijan, which was in conflict with Armenia over the enclave of
Nagorno-Karabakh. Open borders is an EU membership requirement.
Figure 4. Turkey and Armenia
Source: Financial Times.
Coming to terms with the controversial issue of the
1915 massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the Ottoman Empire,
which Armenia and its diaspora label genocide, a term the Turkish
authorities virulently refuse to accept because it does not take into
account their view of what happened, is not an EU requirement. Yet some
form of words satisfactory to both sides, if not an outright apology,
would certainly go down well in some countries, particularly in France
where there is a large Armenian community.
The Armenian issue is now much more openly debated in Turkey,
although the risk of prosecution for expressing views deemed as a
crime has not totally disappeared. The murder of the Armenian-Turkish
journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 triggered a protest march by 100,000 people in Istanbul carrying signs saying ‘We are all
Last December 200 leading Turkish intellectuals launched a signature
campaign to apologise for the massacre of Armenians. More than 30,000
people have signed it so far.
Abdullah Gül kicked off the rapprochement with Armenia
with some football diplomacy last September when he made the first-ever
visit by a Turkish President to Armenia and attended the World Cup
qualifying game between the two countries. On 23 April this year, one
day before Barrack Obama gave the annual statement by US Presidents on
the killing of Armenians, Turkey and Armenia agreed a framework to
normalise their relations. Obama, anxious to keep Turkey on board as
part of his promise to reach out to the Muslim world, did not follow a
campaign pledge and studiously avoided the G-word (used when he was a
Senator). Instead he chose one of the Armenian terms for the
atrocities, Mets Yeghern, meaning ‘Great Man-Made
The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh dates from the time when the Soviet
Union was collapsing (see Figure 5). A referendum held there in
December 1991 and in the neighbouring district of Shahumian resulted
in a declaration of independence from Azerbaijan as the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which is still not recognised by any
country. Tensions over the mainly Armenian-populated enclave led to a
war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Up to 30,000 people were killed
and more than one million fled their homes. Since the war ended in
2004, Nagorno-Karabakh has been legally part of Azerbaijan but
controlled by ethnic Armenians. Turkey has strong relations with
Azerbaijan based on trade, shared oil and gas pipelines and a sense
of common destiny in an ethnic, cultural and linguistic Turkic world.
Turkey was the first country to recognise Azerbaijan after it
declared independence in 1991. In 2008, the two countries exchanged
10 state visits at the Presidential and Prime Ministerial level. The
close relations are underscored by the saying ‘one nation, two
states’. The relationship has an important strategic dimension
in the form of the Basku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (which runs just
16 km from the ceasefire line), the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi railway.
Figure 5. Nagorno-Karabakh
The close relationship between Turkey and Azerbaijan has so far
conditioned Turkey-Armenia normalisation as Ankara has always
insisted on Armenia’s withdrawal from occupied Azerbaijani
territories as a precondition for opening the border and establishing
diplomatic relations. Azerbaijan would not be happy with a de-linkage; it could affect future sales of its gas to Turkey.
President Ilham Aliyev cancelled his attendance at the summit meeting
in Istanbul of the ‘Alliance of Civilizations’ in April,
apparently because the Turkish government did not confirm or deny
media reports of de-linkage. This is a typical case of a larger power
becoming hostage to a client state. A compromise would have to involve Armenia withdrawing from some areas.
Foreign Policy: ‘Zero Problems with Neighbours’
A rapprochement with Armenia, which would mean that all of Turkey’s
borders with its neighbours were open and a successful outcome to the
longstanding Cyprus problem would represent significant milestones in
the government’s policy of ‘zero problems with neighbours’ and in the path to EU membership.
This expression was coined by Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan’s
former chief foreign policy adviser, who became Foreign Minister earlier this year. In a book published in 2001 Davutoglu
introduced the concept of strategic depth as a factor that should
characterise Turkish foreign policy.
The country’s strong historical and cultural connections to the
surrounding regions give Turkey a geopolitical strategic depth and a
capacity to engage with all countries in them.
Turkish foreign policy today is a far cry from the days when it was
cited as a ‘post-Cold War warrior’ or a ‘regional
coercive power’. It has become a benign if not a soft power whose foreign policy is increasingly driven by economic factors.
Among the drivers are Turkey’s Europeanisation, a much more open
economy, geopolitical transformations in regions surrounding Turkey, a
more self-confident and richer nation and a military less inclined to
push its nation-state security mindset. The country’s growing influence
and popularity, particularly in the Arab world, was tacitly recognised
when it was elected in October 2008 as a non-permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council for the first time since the early
1960s. Barrack Obama has been quick to court Turkey –calling it a
‘critical’ ally in his speech to the Turkish parliament in April– as
part of his policy of reaching out to the Muslim world. Turkey has some
900 troops in Afghanistan and is a transit hub for supplies to American
troops both there and in Iraq.
The visit of President Gül to Armenia in 2008 and Turkey’s efforts to
mediate between Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the one hand, and Israel
and Syria, on the other, were unthinkable a decade ago.
Economic considerations –export markets, investment
opportunities, tourism, energy supplies, etc– have become much more
forceful drivers behind foreign policy. Take trade: exports and imports
as a percentage of GDP rose from 9% in 1975, when Turkey was still an
import substitution economy, to 46% in 2008 (during this period the
size of the economy increased tenfold). As it becomes more integrated
into the global economy, so Turkey is developing into a trading state.
Foreign trade with countries in its neighbourhood increased from US$9.6
billion in 1995 to US$67.7 billion in 2007. A significant chunk of
exports to both the EU, with whom Turkey has a Customs Union since
1996, and to countries that are nearer is coming from the so-called
Anatolian Tigers, a dynamic and socially conservative business class
that mainly supports the ruling AKP.
Improved relations between Turkey and its neighbours would be an asset
for the EU, whether Turkey joined it or not.
The Kurdish Issue
Hopes for an end to 25 years of fighting between
Turkish troops and the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the
south-east of the country have been raised by the PKK’s decision to
extend a unilateral ceasefire declared on 14 April until 15 July and
dropping its demands for independence in favour of greater autonomy and
cultural rights. The PKK could extend the truce to 1 September if it
believes the government is making progress on finding a political
solution to the conflict that has killed 40,000 people, mainly Kurds.
The strident Deniz Baykal, leader of the opposition Republican People’s
Party, which has abandoned its social-democrat roots
and become almost as ultra-nationalist as the far-right Nationalist
Action Party, has suggested an amnesty for PKK fighters.
Turkey’s 14 million Kurds are beginning to enjoy more
cultural rights (speaking Kurdish in public was forbidden in Turkey
until 1991). In January, ahead of March’s municipal elections, the TRT
state television launched a 24-hour Kurdish channel in the main Kurdish
dialect, Kurmanji, implementing the reform of broadcasting laws
approved in 2002. Private Kurdish TV channels are still only allowed to
broadcast in their mother tongue for four hours a week. Every show is
vetted and has to have Turkish subtitles, making live programmes
impossible. As a result, these programmes have little chance of
becoming a popular alternative to Roj TV, which broadcasts
a pro-PKK message by satellite from Denmark. Kurdish is not an elective
subject in schools.
The TRT move and distributing electoral incentives,
such as white goods and winter fuel, did nothing to help the ruling AKP
obtain more votes in the south-east where the pro-Kurdish Democratic
Society Party (DTP), which has 20 deputies in the national Parliament,
took back all major cities from the AKP including Diyarbakir, the
provincial capital. The DTP won eight provincial mayoralties (four more
than in the 2004 local elections) and 50 district mayoralties (up from
18 five years ago). More than 50 members of the DTP, which is
threatened with closure in a Constitutional Court lawsuit, were
arrested after the elections. DTP mayors are often prosecuted for
projects such as multi-language services, even though they fully comply
with the AKP’s policy objectives.
Despite the ceasefire, the army has kept up its attacks on PKK bases
in northern Iraq and incidents still occur in Turkey. Six soldiers
were killed and 11 wounded on 27 May in Hakkari province near the
Iraqi border in an explosion blamed on the PKK. Some 3,000 PKK fighters are said to be based in northern Iraq, and the US is
providing Turkey with intelligence to allow jets to bomb the group’s weapons stores, shelters and other sites.
The Kurdish problem, coupled with family-feud
traditions, has left a bitter legacy in the south-east. In May, 47
people at a wedding party, including six children as well as the bride
and groom, were killed by ‘village guards’, local Kurds armed by the
government to help in the fight against the PKK. Their weapons, under a
system dating back to 1985 as a counter-insurgency method, were
official issue. These guards, paid to patrol and protect villages from
PKK attacks, number around 60,000 and have become a law unto
themselves. The EU has long called for them system to be dismantled.
The European Commission already recognises Turkey as a
functioning market economy. The structural reforms that Turkey has put
into place, ending hyperinflation and massive budget deficits and
strengthening a banking sector hard hit by the devastating financial
crisis of 2001, among other things, have helped the country to weather
the global recession better than many EU and indeed most OECD countries.
Most strikingly, Turkey is one of the very few OECD countries whose
government or central bank has not had to come to the rescue of a
failed bank. The banks have little exposure to toxic assets and are
generally well regulated by the relevant authorities.
Nevertheless, unemployment has been steadily rising
(15.8% in April) and the economy contracted 6.2% in the fourth quarter
of 2008, the first shrinkage in seven years. Real GDP growth declined
from an average of 7.25% a year in 2002-06 to 4.75% in 2007 and 1% in
This time, however, the country’s recession is not of its own making.
Inflation dropped from an average of 70% in 1993-2002
to 10.4% at the end of 2008 and an annual rate of 5.2% in May, the
lowest level in almost 40 years and below the Bank of Turkey’s target
of 7.5% for the whole of 2009. The budget deficit was 1.8% of GDP in
2008 and public debt 40% of GDP. The deficit last year was well within
the EU’s ceiling of 3% (Turkey, like many EU countries including Spain,
will substantially overshoot the ceiling this year) and the
level of debt is also currently much lower than the 60% requirement for
becoming a euro zone country (see Appendix 3).
The economy has come a long way in less than a decade,
manifested by the greater degree of globalisation. As the OECD pointed
out in its last survey of the country, this is due to three factors:
(1) an increase in the share of exports in output (textiles, clothing,
car assembly, consumer electronics, white goods and light industrial
machinery); (2) the opening of domestic markets to import competition;
and (3) increasing recourse to international savings in
Among the major structural reforms still pending are to get to grips
with the unrecorded economy, which is reckoned to account for up to
one-third of Turkish GDP, and implement serious tax reform through an
institution similar to the US’s Inland Revenue Service (IRS).The tax system depends for around 70% of revenue on indirect
taxation, leaving the country’s finances extremely sensitive to
economic downturn. These two issues are a central part of a new IMF
standby agreement which the government has been negotiating on and
off for around a year. Prime Minister Erdogan is reluctant to bite
the bullet on curbing public spending which needs to be done unless
revenue can be substantially increased –unlikely in an environment of recession or downturn–.
Turkey faces a crunch point this December when its
membership comes up for review at the EU summit. A suspension of
negotiations because of its continued failure to implement the Ankara
Protocol and open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and
aircraft is most unlikely because it would require a unanimous vote by
all 27 EU countries. Several of the big EU nations, such as the UK and
Spain, would not be prepared to go so far. In the best-case scenario,
and probably the most likely, Turkey would be warned again about the
consequences of not meeting its obligations and given more time as both
the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot Presidents are negotiating about
re-unification of the island. A successful conclusion to these
negotiations could lead to another referendum in 2010 on the issue
and a ‘yes’ vote on both sides would undoubtedly make it much easier
for Erdogan to implement the protocol.
If this happened, the eight chapters blocked by the European
Commission as of December 2006 would be in a position to be opened,
though probably not agriculture as this chapter is one of the five
opposed by France on the grounds that they would bring Turkey closer
to full EU membership. President Sarkozy, backed by Chancellor Merkel wants Turkey to have a privileged partnership with the EU.
The partnership idea, which has never been fully
spelled out and is rejected by Turkey, may gain momentum as a result of
the greater share of seats in the European Parliament won by extreme
right-wing parties in June’s European elections. The extreme right
gained ground in Hungary, the UK, Rumania, Austria and Slovakia. One of
their rallying cries was that the EU should renege on its promise to
allow Turkey into the EU. It is assumed that under a partnership deal
Turkey would be integrated in European defence, security and foreign
policy mechanisms, with eventual full membership in the relevant
decision-making bodies. As a member of NATO Turkey has already spent 57
years defending Europe so there is nothing new here. The Customs Union
that Turkey has enjoyed since 1996 could be extended to other areas,
but probably more to the Union’s than to Turkey’s advantage. In
essence, a privileged partnership offers no new privileges to Turkey
and by excluding it from decision-making enforces the growing feeling
in Turkey that the most the country can expect is to be treated as a
second-class European citizen because it is poor, large and Muslim.
Turkey has already spent 46 years in the EU’s anteroom, since
becoming an associate member of the then European Economic Community
in 1963. Failure to make Turkey a full member, assuming it meets all
the criteria one day, like all other countries that have negotiated
their membership, would also erode the EU’s credibility by showing to the world that it does not keep its word. The basic
principle of Roman law –pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept)– is part of the European cultural
The opposition in some governments and some
populations to Turkey’s full EU membership is a gift to the Republican
People’s Party (CHP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP), the two main opposition parties in Parliament which have refused
to back many of the ruling AKP’s reforms. While the AKP needs to
reinvigorate the political will to forge ahead with reforms that it
showed in 2002-05, there is a limit to how far Erdogan can push. After
all, his party narrowly avoided being outlawed in 2008 by the
Constitutional Court, like some of its predecessors in the past. The
Kemalist establishment shows no sign of giving up its quest to find a
way to ban the AKP. Erdogan keenly began the EU negotiations and does
not want them derailed (they give the AKP protection from the Kemalist
camp), but he has become less enthusiastic about completing
Sweden –the current EU President– and Spain –as of
January– are well disposed towards Turkey. The governments of these two
countries, however, could be more proactive in their support for Turkey
and counter, for example, statements that Sarkozy
There is a window of opportunity until sometime late
next year when parties will begin campaigning for a general election
that has to be held by July 2011. The EU accession process during that
period will be even more on the back burner than it is at the moment.
It is now widely accepted that, barring a miracle, Turkey will not meet
all 35 chapters by 2014, a date mooted when negotiations began in
October 2005. At the current pace, another decade will be needed, by
which time Turks may have lost interest in joining (and vote against it
in a referendum) and/or countries such as France and Germany would
still be against full EU membership. The road ahead is very bumpy. So
far all countries that have started and completed negotiations have
joined the EU. It is to be hoped that Turkey does not become the
Journalist and writer, author of four Working Papers on Turkey
for the Elcano Royal Institute and a study for the Open Society Foundation (Istanbul) comparing Spain’s and Turkey’s EU
Appendix 1. Turkey’s Progress in Negotiating Chapters
(a) Provisionally closed
25. Science and research
4. Free movement of capital
6. Company law
7. Intellectual property rights
10. Info society and media
20. Enterprise and industrial
21. Trans European networks
28. Consumer and health
32. Financial control
(c) Chapters to be negotiated
2. Free movement of workers
5. Public procurement
8. Competition policy
10. Information society and
12. Food safety, veterinary and
19. Social policy and employment
20. Enterprise and industrial
21. Trans-European networks
23. Judiciary and fundamental
24. Justice, freedom and
25. Science and research
26. Education and culture
28. Consumer and health
31. Foreign, security and
32. Financial control
(1) As of June 2009.
(d) Chapters suspended over
Cyprus by the European Council in December 2006
1. Free movement of goods
3. Right of establishment and
freedom to provide services
9. Financial services
11. Agricultural and rural
14. Transport policy
29. Customs Union
30. External relations
(e) Chapters opposed by
11. Agricultural and rural
17. Economic and monetary policy
22. Regional policy and
coordination of structural funds
33. Financial and budgetary
Appendix 2. Timeline: The Long and Winding Road to the Opening of
EU Accession Negotiations
February 18 1952
becomes a full member of Nato.
September 20 1959
applies to the European Economic Community (EEC) to become an
May 27 1960
stages acoup and remains in power until October 1961. It draws up a new
constitution and establishes a mechanism to intervene in politics,
the National Security Council.
September 12 1963
Turkey is made an associate
member of the EEC.
July 22 1970
Turkey signs an agreement
foreseeing its eventual full membership of the bloc.
March 12 1971
The army hands an ultimatum to
Prime Minster Demirel’s government. On April 27 1971 martial
law is declared in 11 provinces; some leftist and religious political
parties are closed down. The state security courts, heavily
influenced by the military, are created. The direct influence of the
military lasted until the October 1973 elections.
July 20 1974
Turkey invades Cyprus by sea and
air following the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts
between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. After gaining control over 40% of
the island, Turkey unilaterally declares a ceasefire.
February 13 1975
Turkish Cypriots establish their
own state in the north of the island. Later that year Turkey takes
control of most of the US installations within that territory, except
the joint defence base at Incirlik, which it reserves for ‘Nato
The EC suggests that Turkey
applies for membership along with Greece. Ankara declines the
September 12 1980
months of street fighting between rival left-wing and right-wing
factions, a third armycoup topples the Turkish government. Military rule lasts until November
1983. Relations with the EC are virtually frozen.
Northern Cyprus declares its
territory as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The state is
recognised by no one else but mainland Turkey. Parliamentary
elections are held in Turkey and military rule is ended. Relations
with the EC begin to normalise.
The Council of Europe accepts
the participation of Turkish parliamentarians.
January 26 1987
recognises the right of its citizens to file complaints with the
European Human Rights Commission.
April 14 1987
Turkey applies to the EC for
December 18 1989
The European Commission endorses
Turkey’s eligibility for membership, but defers the assessment
of its application.
January 1 1996
A Customs Union between the
now-named European Union (EU) and Turkey enters into force for
industrial goods and processed agricultural products.
December 13 1997
At the Luxembourg summit, EU
leaders decline to grant candidate status to Turkey. Ankara reacts
angrily, freezing relations and contacts.
June 2 1999
Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of
the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who led a violent 15-year
campaign for independence for Turkey’s 14 million or so Kurds,
is convicted by Turkey of treason and separatism and sentenced to
death (not carried out).
December 10 1999
The EU summit in Helsinki
recognises Turkey as a ‘candidate state destined to join the
Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other
The composition of the State
Security Courts is changed, to exclude members of the military.
The EU approves the Accession
Partnership document, which sets out the political, economic and
legislative reforms that Turkey has to carry out to fulfil the
accession criteria. Cyprus is included as part of the ‘Political
Dialogue and Political Criteria’.
March 19 2001
The Turkish Government publishes
the National Programme for the Adoption of theAcquis,
with a detailed explanation of the reforms to fulfil the accession
October 3 2001
The Turkish Grand National
Assembly approved 34 amendments to the Constitution, the most
ambitious overhaul since its entry into force in 1982, in order to
meet the Copenhagen political criteria.
August 3 2002
Turkish Parliament passes sweeping reforms, including the abolition
of the death penalty and the easing of bans on the use of the Kurdish
language, to meet some of the EU’s human rights criteria.
November 3 2002
The conservative Justice and
Development Party (AKP), which has Islamic roots, wins a general
election partially on a pledge to drive forward Turkey’s
sagging EU bid.
November 30 2002
of emergency in all remaining provinces of the south-east was lifted.
December 11 2002
Turkish Parliament approves a clutch of constitutional reforms that
make it harder to shut down parties and easier to prosecute
December 12 2002
The EU summit at Copenhagen
decides to accept Cyprus in May 2004, despite faltering talks to
reunify the island. It proposes a December 2004 review of Turkey’s
progress in fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria for EU
membership, and if the outcome is positive accession negotiations
will be opened ‘without delay’.
The EU Council approves a
revised Accession Partnership, specifying the remaining priority
areas for reform. In July the Turkish government publishes a revised
National Programme for the Adoption of theAcquis.
The seventh reform package
reduces the influence of the armed forces via the powerful National
Security Council. The Council becomes more of an advisory body.
November 5 2003
European Commission released its sixth regular report on Turkey’s
progress towards accession. It said the government had ‘shown
great determination in accelerating the pace of reforms’ but
‘on the ground, implementation of the reforms is uneven’.
The report warned that Turkey’s hopes of starting formal
accession talks with the EU could face a ‘serious obstacle’
if no settlement is reached over the divided island of Cyprus by May
2004 (when Cyprus joins the EU).
January 15 2004
Romano Prodi is the first
President of the European Commission to visit Turkey since 1963.
on a revised UN plan for the unification of Cyprus failed to win
endorsement from the leaders of the island’s Greeks. But the
United Nations decided to go ahead anyway and put its plans to a vote
in both parts of Cyprus on April 24, ahead of the island’s
entry into the EU on May 1.
Greek-Cypriot part of Cyprus entered the EU, but not the
Turkish-Cypriot part, after more than three-quarters of
Greek-Cypriots voted against the UN plan to reunite the island.
Turkish-Cypriots, in contrast, endorsed the plan. Both sides had to
accept the reunification plan in order for the whole island to join
Independent Commission of Europeans who previously held high
positions in public office, including Marcelino Oreja, a former
Spanish Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner, called for the EU to
treat Turkey’s case with ‘respect, fairness and
than a month before the landmark report by the European Commission on
Turkey’s progress towards meeting the criteria for starting
accession talks, Brussels warned Ankara that unless it removed
proposals before parliament to criminalise adultery it would not meet
the minimum criteria required of aspiring members.
Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, accused the EU of
interfering in the country’s internal affairs, but withdrew the
Turkish parliament held an emergency session and approved reforms of
the penal code including tougher sentences for torture and ‘honour
The European Commission issues a report recommending that the European
Council at its meeting in December opens accession negotiations, butith certain conditions.
EU leaders agree at the Brussels summit to open talks on Turkey's EU
accession. The decision, made at a summit in Brussels, follows a
dealver an EU demand that Turkey recognise Cyprus as an EU member.
EU membership negotiations officially launched.
Appendix 3. Basic Statistics, Spain and Turkey (1)
(Purchasing Power Parity, US$ bn)
GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) (US$)
capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, EU-27=100)
exports (% of GDP)
of goods (% of GDP)
of tourists (million)
account (% of GDP)
(annual % change in CPI)
government balance (% of GDP)
government debt (% of GDP)
stock of foreign direct investment (US$ billion)
stock of Spanish investment abroad (US$ billion)
tax revenue (% of GDP)
on R&D (% of GDP)
cars per 1,000 inhabitants
human development index (2)
expectancy at birth (years)
of population under the age of 15
of population over the age of 65
coefficient of income inequality (mid-2000s) (3)
International Corruption Perceptions Index (Rank&
empowerment (ranking in UN Development Programme’s measure)
freedom index (Reporters without Borders)
per 100,000 inhabitants (average of years 2005-07)
of governments since 1977 (5)
expenditure (% of GDP)
(1) 2008 unless otherwise stated.
(2) The maximum value is one.
(3) The closer to zero the more equal the income distribution.
(4) The closer to 10 the cleaner the country.
(5) This is taken as the reference year because it was when Spain had its
first free elections since 1936.
Source: Eurostat, OECD, Turkish Statistical Institute, UNCTAD, UN Human
Development Report, World Development Indicators and Economist
Chislett, William (2008), Turkey’s Conundrum: Are the Country’s Versions of Secularism and Political Islam Compatible?, Working Paper, Elcano Royal Institute, www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/Elcano_in/Zonas_in/Europe/DT24-2008.
De Bellaigue, Christopher (2009), Rebel Land: Among Turkey’s Forgotten Peoples, Bloomsbury, London.
Financial Times, Turkey Special Report, 9/VI/2009.
International Crisis Group (2008), Turkey and Europe: The Decisive Year Ahead.
Karlsson, Ingmar (2009), Turkey in Europe but not of Europe?, conference paper presented at Lund University,
Sweden, in May and published by TESEV, www.tesev.org.tr/UD_OBJS/PDF/DPT/AB/TESEV_Lund_Report.pdf.
Open Society Foundation Istanbul (2009), The Cost of No EU-Turkey, Hakan Altinay, Michael Lake, Carl Bildt, Norbert Walter, Paulina Lampsa & Hakan Yilmaz.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2008), Turkey Survey.
Yilmaz, Bahri (2008), The Relations of Turkey with the European Union: Candidate Forever?, Center for European Studies at Harvard University,