​Turkey’s Path to the European Union

Turkey flag

The Republic of Turkey has been directly involved in the growth of Europe, being one of the founding members of the United Nations. To this day, Turkey remains an important country when it comes to the economy and prosperity of Europe. Some feel that it is only a matter of time before Turkey becomes a full member of the European Union. Despite being involved with the affairs of the majority of Europe, the road to joining the European Union has been paved with obstacles and building blocks.

The History of Turkey and the European Union

Since the Republic of Turkey declared victory over the old Ottoman regime, Turkey has aligned itself with Western countries. This has included their participation in the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Turkey was one of the founding members of the United Nations. Their involvement with the interests of Europe continued with their part in founding the Council of Europe in 1949, becoming an associate member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1963, and applying for full membership in 1987. The EEC would eventually evolve into what is now called the European Union. In 2005 formal negotiations for accession into the European Union began. At the start, experts thought it would take at least ten years for Turkey to be voted in as a full member. Since then, other obstacles have stalled this process.

Greece and the Republic of Cyprus

One of the reasons for the delay in Turkey becoming a full member of the European Union is their current relationship with Greece and the fact that they do not recognise the government of the Republic of Cyprus. In 1974, disputes between citizens of Turkish ancestry and those of Greek ethnicity, led to a revolt. In the end, many Greek Cypriots moved south, while Turkish Cypriots began to migrate north. This matter is still not resolved, although it remains peaceful. The self-declared state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was formed by Turkish Cypriots in 1983. This land is not recognised as an independent state by any country, except Turkey. 

Completing 35 Chapters of European Law

Before Turkey can continue negotiations to join the European Union, they must complete 35 exercises related to European Union law. Since these items were determined, Turkey has only completed one of them. Out of the remaining 34 chapters, 14 are directly related to their position on the conflict in Cyprus. Their recognition of Northern Cyprus as a country puts them at odds with Greece, a major member of the European Union. 

Where Turkey Stands in Joining the European Union

Whether or not Turkey will be able to become a full member of the European Union remains to be seen. Turkey must complete all of the 35 exercises set forth and be able to receive a unanimous vote from the 27 member states. 

Until the conflict between Turkish and Greek Cypriots is resolved, it is unlikely that Turkey will be able to move forward with their European Union ambitions. If the other member countries of the European Union were to understand the stance that Turkey has taken in regards to Cyprus, then there is a good chance that Turkey will eventually become a member of an institution that they helped build.

However, with the current financial state of most of the EU countries versus the explosive growth of Turkey, one can certainly wonder if the European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.


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