Turkey’s long path towards accession : a Greek viewpoint

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Ersie Sideris


In spite of doubts and misgivings of the Greek public opinion the Greek
Government staunchly support Turkey’s full membership of the E.U. in the
hope that a Europeanized Turkey might cease to be a constant threat to
Greece’s territorial integrity and instead become a valuable economic and
political partner in South Eastern Europe. Over the passed years Turkey has raised a number of issues concerning the Aegean with a view to claiming Greek national territory or at least to exerting pressure and intimidation on Greece so that Ankara might achieve some kind of condominium in the Aegean. The Greek Government recognize the delimitation of the Continental Shelf of the Aegean as the only real contencieux between the two countries to be referred to the International Court of the Hague —an approach which runs contrary to Turkey’s preference for gunboat diplomacy. Moreover the problem of Cyprus stands as a major issue between Greece and Turkey and between Turkey and the EU. For Greece military occupation by Turkey of a large part of the Republic of Cyprus, a EU member constitutes the core of the problem. Non recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, a candidate for accession, and refusal of the latter to extend the protocol to the Ankara Agreement to the Republic of Cyprus is currently becoming the main bone of contention in Ankara’s path towards accession. The majority of European citizens and a considerable number of European Governments are skeptical about the wisdom of accepting Turkey as a
full member of the EU, owing to religious and cultural differences and to the
democratic deficit which prevails in the policies and attitudes of that country in
the field of human rights and protection of ethnic and religious minorities.
Furthermore the cost of possible Turkey’s accession is expected to be enormous and the influx of Turkey’s labour will greatly aggravate the EU’s acute
problem of unemployment. Turkey’s current Islamic Government favours EU membership in the hope that they might thus curb the opposition of the Turkish Military to Islamic political power. However, in spite of differences of opinion on domestic issues Turkey’s Islamic Government and the Military, in their capacity as guardians of Kemal’s lay heritage, agree when it comes to foreign policy. They both seek EU membership à /а carte and both have difficulty to break with their Ottoman past when it comes to relations with their neighbours and with the world at large.

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