‘One of the issues turning heads in Turkey is its stalled EU membership bid. And tensions are running high – as Maria Finoshina reports (26 Oct 2013)’.
In September 1959, Ankara applied for associate membership of the then-European Economic Community (EEC). Four years later, the Ankara Agreement was signed to take Turkey into a customs union and finally full EEC membership. In 1967, the EEC was renamed the European Community (EC). On 14 April 1987Turkey applied for full EC membership. On 1 November 1993, the Treaty on European Union, commonly referred to as the Maastricht Treaty, came into force formally establishing the EU. A customs union finally came into effect under Tansu Çiller in 1996. At the Helsinki summit in December 1999, Turkey was finally given the status of a candidate country. And then, on 17 December 2004, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005. And basically, that is still the state of Turkey-EU relations today. Negotiations are ongoing, stalled, and arduous. On 9 November 2010, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the Reuters news agency that “We have been kept waiting at the gates of the EU for 50 years. We are still waiting and waiting and still in the negotiating process”. Erdoğan added that public opinion in Turkey was becoming “offended with the situation”, and that “[s]ince the game [of accession negotiations] started, new rules have been brought into the game”.