American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Urges President Clinton to Insist on Conditions for Turkish Candidacy for the European Union
December 9, 1999 No. 42/99 (202) 785-8430

AHI Urges President Clinton to Insist on Conditions for Turkish Candidacy for the European Union

On December 9, 1999 and in advance of the European Union summit in Helsinki, Finland, the American Hellenic Institute sent to a letter to President Clinton (click here for copy of letter) on the issue of Turkey's application for EU candidate status.

The letter stresses that the most important issue with regard to Turkey's application is whether Turkey itself is prepared to earn this status by meeting certain standards of conduct in advance as is required of all other applicants. The letters faults the U.S. failure to insist on these necessary preconditions as bad policy. It signals to Turkey that the U.S. is once again appeasing Turkey before it has taken the necessary reform steps. Ironically, by giving Turkey a free pass and thus reducing the incentive for Turkey to make the tough long-term choices on such matters as human rights and the removal of military influence, the U.S. is likely to impair Turkey's ability to complete the fundamental transition process to democracy and a market economy.

Before Turkey's candidacy can be accepted, Turkey needs to take two immediate steps of direct relevance to the EU to prove that it is an appropriate candidate:

  1. It must commit itself to a firm and verifiable timetable for the removal of its armed forces from Cyprus and for resolving the Cyprus problem in accordance with democratic norms and international law as set out in multiple Security Council resolutions. Turkey clearly cannot become a member of the EU while it is illegally occupying part of another country, Cyprus, which is itself already far advanced along the path to EU accession. Turkey's intransigent attitude prior to the current proximity talks in New York does not provide any encouragement to believe that this is in fact Turkey's attitude; and
  2. It must abandon its unilateral claims against sovereign Greek territory in the Aegean by agreeing to take any such claims to the International Court of Justice for binding arbitration. In the absence of such a commitment, it is manifestly absurd to expect that Greece, a long-standing EU member, would approve the EU candidacy of a country which maintains hostile territorial claims against it. Put in a similar position of facing claims against their sovereign territory, other EU member states would feel precisely the same reservations.

The letter urges President Clinton to make clear to Turkey that failure to accede to these two obvious conditions would provide appropriate grounds for any EU member to oppose Turkey's candidacy. The U.S. should not provide Turkey with a blank check on this issue, but Turkey should expect to be held to the same criteria as any other EU applicant.