American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Statement on Decision of the European Union Council to Accept Turkey as Candidate for Accession
December 14, 1999 No. 43/99 (202) 785-8430

AHI Statement on Decision of the European Union Council to Accept Turkey as Candidate for Accession

The American Hellenic Institute endorses the European Union Council's decision at its December 10-11 meeting in Helsinki to accept Turkey as a candidate for EU accession. AHI notes with satisfaction that this decision was subject to certain conditions. AHI applauds the EU's imposition of these conditions and urges that they be strictly applied.

The conditions concerned are that:

  1. Turkey's unilateral claims in the Aegean are to be referred to the International Court of Justice "within a reasonable time;"
  2. EU accession talks with Cyprus will continue and that Cyprus' accession will not be contingent on a settlement of the Cyprus problem; and
  3. Turkey's candidacy of the EU will not enjoy any special favors or derogations, but Turkey will be expected to satisfy all of the June 1993 "Copenhagen" accession criteria covering issues such as human rights and democratic governance. Turkey will also have to adhere to entire corpus of EU law and regulations (the acquis communitaire).

The AHI welcomes these conditions and congratulates the EU for its insight and insistence--greatly in contrast to the U.S.--that Turkey must undertake substantial changes in its internal and external policies before it can commence accession negotiations. Once implemented by Turkey, these conditions provide the prospect of resolving two of the most long-standing problems in the region, Cyprus and the Aegean, and of improving the human rights of all the Turkish people.

AHI stresses that those who have supported Turkey's candidacy now have a heavy responsibility to ensure that Turkey honors these conditions. This responsibility falls especially on the U.S. All too often the U.S. has accepted Turkey's promises, for example in 1978 to negotiate seriously about Cyprus in exchange for the lifting of the arms embargo, only to see Turkey go back on its word. Another example of Turkey's readiness to break solemn undertakings is its failure to respect its promises given to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Madrid on July 8, 1997 to pursue a policy on non-aggression and non-belligerence with respect to its relations with Greece.

With regard to Turkey's accession to the EU, the U.S. adopted an irresponsibly lax attitude toward conditionality, placing pressure on the EU to give special favors to Turkey. The Helsinki decision embracing an impartial approach as to all applicant countries has rightly rejected this approach. In the future there must be no repetition of this pattern of appeasement.

AHI notes with concern that Turkey's first reaction to the EU statement was to question its legitimacy. AHI also notes with concern that, in his first reaction, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Rauf Denktash described the EU decisions as "erroneous." These reactions are discouraging and unacceptable. The U.S. must signal firmly to Turkey that the U.S. stands behind the EU conditions, that it will actively support their implementation and that any non-fulfillment by Turkey would have adverse consequences for its relationship with the U.S.

AHI proposes to monitor Turkey's compliance or lack thereof with the EU conditions and will publish periodic reports on this subject.

The U.S. should urge Turkey to dispel doubts about its good faith by taking immediate steps with regard to Cyprus and the Aegean. Although of long-standing duration, neither of these matters is in essence complicated. In each case Turkish aggression and intransigence is the root cause.

Regarding Cyprus, proximity talks have started in New York and new talks are expected to take place in the new year. The EU decision removes any excuse for intransigence or obstructionism by the Turkish side. The U.S. should inform Turkey that it expects rapid progress, including a specific timetable for the early removal of its armed forces from Cyprus.

Regarding the Aegean, the U.S. should press Turkey to take such unilateral claims as it raises to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for binding arbitration within 6 months.

By taking these actions, the U.S. would signal to Turkey that it is abandoning its decades-long policy of appeasement and double standards toward Turkey and that it now has the political will to achieve early settlements of the Aegean and Cyprus matters. This would greatly benefit the U.S. interest in achieving region-wide peace, stability and prosperity.