EU?s credibility at risk if Turkey?s accession process stalls

Leading Europeans say resolution to Cyprus conflict is key to Turkey?s accession process

With a new round of peace talks on Cyprus resuming this month, a group of
distinguished Europeans today issued a report urging the two sides to arrive at
a settlement in order to remove obstacles to the accession negotiations between
Turkey and the European

“Turkey’s progress towards joining the European
Union would get a major boost from resolving the division of Cyprus,” said Martti Ahtisaari, Chair of the
Independent Commission and the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
seductive idea that the status
can go on forever is a delusion. The cost of inaction
this time around is too high.”

Turkey in Europe:
Breaking the Vicious Circle
, the second report of the Independent Commission on
Turkey, analyses the key
developments in EU-Turkey relations and puts forward concrete steps necessary to
revive negotiations. The report also argues for deeper convergence between
Turkey and the EU not only to
drive further transformation in Turkey but also to restore European

Despite a promising start
to negotiations in 2004, the process has become a
vicious cycle: fierce opposition
from some European politicians combined with growing public resistance to
further EU enlargement, in turn has deepened resentment in Turkey
and slowed the necessary reforms.

“To breathe new life into
the negotiations, the EU must simply follow through on
previous commitments to keep the path to membership open; no new promises are
needed,” said Ahtisaari.

The report’s other conclusions

  • The shared objective of negotiations
    with Turkey is accession, not any
    alternative such as a “privileged partnership”.

  • Turkey is a key
    geo-strategic partner for Europe, particularly because of its regional role and
    its central location for energy supplies from the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and
    the Middle East.

  • After a golden age of reforms
    between 2000 and 2005, domestic political disruptions have distracted Turkey
    from reforms. Two years without elections now lie ahead, and all sides must act
    now to prevent the country’s convergence with the EU from stalling.
    Comprehensive, consistent and sustained progress towards more democracy
    at home is the best way to persuade
    more Europeans of Turkey’s EU compatibility.

  • The Independent Commission remains
    convinced of the huge benefits of Turkish convergence with Europe, and eventual
    EU membership of a transformed Turkey, both for the country itself
    and the European Union

The full text of the report can be found at the Independent Commission on
Turkey’s website:

The nine
Commission members are: Martti Ahtisaari;
Kurt Biedenkopf; Emma Bonino; Hans van den Broek; Bronislaw Geremek († 13 July
2008); Anthony Giddens; Marcelino Oreja Aguirre; Michel Rocard and Albert
Rohan. The Commission is supported by the British Council and the Open Society
Foundation (Turkey).
Martti Ahtisaari, Emma Bonino, Anthony Giddens, Marcelino Oreja Aguirre
and Albert Rohan are ECFR council



The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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