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44 - Bilateral relations with Turkey

Grade: D+
Unity 2/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 1/10
Total 5/20
Scorecard 2012: D+ (5/20)

Divisions between member states persisted and there was no significant progress in the stalled accession negotiations.

Relations with Turkey are a profoundly divisive issue within the EU. Germany and France have been openly opposing accession and arguing instead for a form of "privileged partnership". Cyprus continues to use its veto to block the negotiations, while France is blocking some specific chapters, with Berlin in tacit support. Greece, meanwhile, has gone from an ardent supporter to a bystander. The pro-accession camp includes the UK, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Italy and most member states in central and eastern Europe, including neighbours Bulgaria and Romania.

These internal divisions have undermined the EU’s leverage. There is a sense that although the EU remains an important pole of attraction, Ankara is diversifying its economic and political relations and seeking to emancipate itself from the EU (see component 47). In June, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the country was “pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought.”

The stalemate in membership negotiations continued. The Spanish Presidency declared its ambition to start talks on three new chapters in the first half of the year but only opened one on food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy. Turkey refuses to implement the 2004 Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement and open its ports and airspace to Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft, unless the EU fulfils the commitment it made in 2004 to end the isolation of Northern Cyprus and trade directly with it. Turkey’s relations with the EU have also deteriorated because of its opposition to a new round of sanctions on Iran. The Turkish government is insisting that it is implementing the acquis even without formal negotiations on the relevant chapters, but there is little evidence to that effect, despite Turkey receiving €653.7 million in pre-accession assistance in 2010.