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Greek -Turkish Relations in the post Helsinki Period: Is Europe a framework providing dtente?

Gizem akmak Abstract This paper aims to examine the role of European Union in Greek-Turkish relations while asking the question: Is Europe a framework providing dtente in Greek-Turkish relations? Since 1996, with the efforts of Simitis government, there has been acceleration in Europeanization of Greek Foreign Policy. Greece has shifted her position towards Turkey from conditional sanctions to conditional rewards. The aim was to transfer the conflicts of Greek-Turkish relations under the umbrella of European Union and make them the issues of European Union. In 1999, Turkey and Greece were faced with successive earthquakes which led to the mutual sympathy between Turkish and Greek societies and created the atmosphere of friendship. Thanks to the euphoria of rapprochement and shift in the Greek foreign Policy, Greece has lifted her historic opposition for Turkeys EU membership in Helsinki Summit. Turkey, who became an associate member in 1963, had has the longest association period among the candidate countries. Turkey was left outside in 1997 at

Luxembourg Summit, where Cyprus was accepted as an official candidate. Thus, Helsinki Summit can be regarded as a turning point in both Greek-Turkish and EU relations. This paper argues that the European Union used to be a framework providing dtente in Greek-Turkish relations. However, the accession of Cyprus to the Union without reaching a solution in the island stands as an obstacle on Turkish accession. From the thirty five chapters that are subject to negotiations, eight chapters are frozen due to the Turkeys obligation to fully implement the Additional Protocol which means opening her ports and airports to Cyprus. Since 2005, no significant progress was made in the negotiations. Also, the form of membership and the deadline for Turkish accession seems uncertain. Currently, Greece is fighting with the debt crisis which also shakes the Euro-zone. On the other hand, Turkey with the growing self-confidence in her foreign policy made effort to increase her role in the region by focusing less on the EU and to accession process. It can be stated that The European Union has lost its significance on the Greek-Turkish Relations as a framework providing dtente.

Brief History of Turkish-Greek Relations Turkish- Greek relations remained problematic and conflicting until 1999. The relations between Greeks and Turks were characterized by mistrust, suspicion and threat perception. Mutual suspicion and the threat perception associated with the other side have grown day to day. The national education system in Greece as well as Turkey, and the media played a significant role in establishing mutual suspicion and prejudices among societies. Only the short periods of interaction and cooperation in the beginning of the 1930s and after the World War II were experienced. A spirit of reconciliation was reached in the beginning of the 1930s, thanks to the efforts of Ataturk and Venizelos. This period was followed by the dtente period after the World War II when the two countries became the members of the NATO, namely the Western Alliance. In those dtente periods, there was a common

perceived threat which led to the rapprochement; Italy and the Soviet Union respectively. Under the patronage of the US, Greece and Turkey became the important actors in containment of the Soviet Union with their strategic location in the Southeastern Europe. Greece and Turkey were enjoying the funds coming from the United States in the name of Marshall Aid. The past rivalries were set aside under the umbrella of NATO until the emergence of Cyprus issue in the middle of the 1950s. Cyprus had been occupied by Britain since 1878 and formally became a colony in 1925. Growing nationalism in the island, especially among the Greek Cypriots created a new demand for the union (enosis) of the island with Greece. According to Coulombis, The first part of the 20th century was an age of fierce nationalism and Cyprus was not left unaffected. Nationalism as a powerful mobilizing political and psychological forces began to spill over from the Turkish and Greek main-lands into the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus.1 The Cyprus conflict has turned into an issue between Greece and Turkey in the middle of the 1950s. In 1960 Cyprus was announced as an independent state according to an agreement signed between the guarantor powers of Great Britain, Greece, and Turkey. However, the inter-communal violence between 1963 and 1967 had reached to the peak level. In 1974, Turkey by using its rights from the guarantor agreement intervened to the island in the name

Theodore A. Couloumbis, The United States, Greece and Turkey: A Troubled Triangle (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1983), 27.

of protecting Turkish Cypriots from the violence. This led to the partition of the island and Greeces withdrawal from the NATOs military flank. The military junta in Greece has come to an end and the power passed to the civilian politicians. Since then, numbers of initiatives by the United Nations were failed and the Cyprus problem remained unsolved and reached a deadlock. Thanks to the nationalist foreign policies in Turkey and Greece, the Cyprus issue remained as the main obstacle on reconciliation between the two countries. For most of the 20th century, relations between Greece and Turkey were defined by the high politics, where the national security interests dominate the agenda of the foreign policies such as Cyprus and the Aegean disputes. Cyprus issue together with the continuing dispute over competing rights in the Aegean Region opened the era of cold war in Greek-Turkish relations. Since the early 1970s, the most important issues concerning the Aegean Sea were the delimitation of continental shelf and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, the control of airspace, and the militarization of the Aegean Islands. The two countries could not reach any solution concerning the Aegean dispute over thirty years of conflict. Even the proposed ways of solving the dispute differ from one country to the other. Greece wants to carry the mutual conflicts into the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where Turkey is in favor of bilateral negotiations and talks. There was a military takeover in Turkey in 1980, all the political parties were banned and the military took the power in their hands until 1983. Only after 1983, the free elections could be held and civilian government could be formed. Thanks to the high pressure from NATO, military government in Turkey lifted Turkeys veto on Greeces return to NATOs military flank. In return, bilateral negotiations on the Aegean Disputes were to be held between the two countries. Relying on the verbal soldier promise of General Rogers, Kenan Evren, the head of military junta lifted the veto and Greece returned to the military wing of NATO after six years. In the 1980s, despite the a short-lived rapprochement period between Papandreou and zal, the Cyprus issue and Aegean disputes remained unsolved and occupied the agenda of Greece as well as Turkey. The era between 1974 and 1996 as the Cold War Years between Greece and Turkey, which carried the potential for an armed conflict between the two countries2 Also, especially the last

Alexis Heraclides, Yunanistan ve Doudan Gelen Tehlike Trkiye: Trk-Yunan likilerinde kmazlar ve zm Yollar, (stanbul: letiim Yaynlar, 2002), 29. [Ellada kai Eks Anatolon Kindinos]

decade of the 20th century has been a problematic and conflicting period in Turkish-Greek relations. The sovereignty question over the Kardak / Imia islets brought Turkey and Greece to the brink of war in 1996. The confrontation over the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles in Cyprus, the opposition of Greece to Turkeys European Union application, and the calan affair in 1999, among other events, made the 1990s a particularly turbulent period. In 1990s, with the emerging new world order, the minority rights issue became prominent in international platforms. By benefiting from this international sensibility, the Greek Orthodox Minority in Istanbul and the Turkish / Muslim Minority in Greece started to raise their voices in international arenas.

In 1999, Turkey experienced a disastrous earthquake in the Marmara Region (the cities of zmit, stanbul, Sakarya and Yalova) which cost 20.000 lives. Greece was the first among the countries which went for aid with well-equipped rescue teams, doctors, foods and medical supplies. The ruined cities after the disaster were broadcasted in Greek televisions, and those views together with the cries and screams of the victims led the Greek public to grow more empathy towards the Turkish people. For many years, Turks were taught and screened as barbaric nation and national enemy in Greece and regarded as rude warriors and uncivilized invaders.3 This time the picture of the Turk was totally different who was crying in front of the ruins hopelessly. They were normal human beings suffering. Thus, for the first time, the image of the Turk became blurred and the Greeks, instead of celebrating the Turkish disasters (as one would have expected given the level of enmity), they lent them their support.4 The image of Greeks in Turkey was not better. This aid surprised the Turks who have believed for many years that the Greeks hate Turks and wanted to harm Turks whenever it is possible. Normally the Greeks were perceived as unfaithful, unreliable, cunning, and insatiable and the spoiled children of the West. 5 In only a month, in September 1999, this time Athens was hit by an earthquake. This time Turkish rescue team- AKUT went to Athens immediately and their services were appreciated

See: Hercules Millas, National Perception of the Other and the Persistence of Some Images, in Turkish Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean eds Mustafa Aydn and Kostas Ifantis (London: Routledge, 2004). 4 Alexis Heraclides. 2011. The Essence of the Greek -Turkish Rivalry: National Narrative and Identity, Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe, GreeSE Paper 51: 25 (accessed January 13, 2012) 5 Millas, Hercules, National Perceptions of the Other and the Persistence of Some Images in Ayidin Mustafa & Kostas Ifantis (eds), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, (London, Routledge, 2004), pp. 54

by Greeks. The mutual sympathy that emerged between the societies after the earthquake in Turkey was reinforced. This exchange of sympathy and improved relations with the public support was called earthquake diplomacy between Greece and Turkey.6 The earthquake diplomacy provided the public support which is vital for long-term reconciliation in Greek-Turkish relations. However, at governmental level the reconciliation had already been started when George Papandreou was assigned as the Greek Foreign Minister and when he had found himself a moderate counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister smail Cem. This time, with a public support in Greece as well as Turkey, there has been acceleration in the cooperation among nongovernmental organizations, universities, and municipalities. There has also been a significant increase in the volume of business transactions and businessmen on both sides who have been seeking new opportunities and ways of expanding trade activities. Rather than focusing on traditional, historical conflicts of High Politics such as Aegean Disputes, the Cyprus Issue, and Issues of Minorities which are regarded as national problems, both countries decided to cooperate in low politics. Those issues of low politics were culture, tourism, cooperation on crime, human trafficking, and illegal immigration.

The most significant step in Greek Foreign Policy regarding Turkey was taken at the Helsinki Summit on December 1999. The historic Greek veto over Turkeys membership was lifted and Turkey was accepted as an official EU candidate. Since 1999, Turkey and Greece enjoy the rapprochement period while improving their relations at the societal level as well as the governmental level.

Turkey, Greece and the EEC/EU

In Turkey, the roots of Westernization can be traced back to the late Ottoman Period. Among the Turkish political elites, westernization was regarded as synonymous with modernization, and as reaching the highest point of civilization. Republic of Turkey, from the very beginning of its emergence, turned its face to the West and westernization was declared as an official

For the term Earthquake or Sismic Diplomacy See: Erik Siegl, Greek -Turkish Relations- Continuity or Change?, Perspectives: Central European Review of International Affairs, no.18 (2002): 40 -52. Dimitris Keridis, "Earthquakes, Diplomacy and New Thinking in Foreign Policy," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, no.30 (2006):1, and Bahar Rumelili, The European Unions Impact on the Greek-Turkish Conflict: A Review of the Literature, Working Papers Series in EU Border Conflicts Studies, No.6 (January 2004).

state ideology. Thus, joining the family of Europe has been the major objective of Turkish political elites among decades.

Turkey applied for membership to the European Economic Community in July 1959, shortly after the creation of the ECC and the Greeces application. The Agreement Creating an Association between the Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community (the "Ankara Agreement") was signed on 12 September 1963. This agreement, which entered into force on 1 December 1964, aimed at securing Turkey's full membership in the EEC through the establishment in three phases of a customs union which would serve as an instrument to bring about integration between the EEC and Turkey.7 Turkey was the second country to sign a European association agreement, normally seen as a prelude to membership.8 An Additional Protocol was signed in November 1970 and the conditions for Turkeys prospective customs union with the ECC were presented. The years between 1973 and 1980 cannot be used efficiently by Turkey due to the domestic political problems.Turkey, instead of being in search of closer ties with Europe to balance Greek application in 1975, preffered to move away from the relationship.In October 1978, the Ecevit government imposed a unilateral freeze on the Association, reneging on the commitment to proceed to the next round of tariff cuts.9 Since Greeces application for membership in 1975 until the date it became officially a member of the Community in 1981, five different governments were formed in Turkey. Those governments were not powerful enough to take a huge step about EEC membership during the heavy unstable political conditions in Turkey. There was a widespread belied among the governments that the association with the European Community could damage Turkeys economy.

In 1980, the military intervened in politics and in 1982 the Association was suspended by the European Community. The newly imposed constitiution was much more restrictive than the previous constitiution and was not in line with the European democracy standards. The interpretations and the application of this constitution created problems between Turkey and the European Union in the 1990s and the 2000s.

Turkish Ministry of EU Affairs, History of Turkey and the EU Relations, ( accessed April 14, 2012) 8 Murat Metin Hakk, Turkey and the EU: Past Challenges and Important Issues Lying Ahead, Turkish Studies 7, no. 3 (2006): 451 9 Susannah Verney, National identity and political change on Turkeys road to EU membership, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9, no. 3 (2007):214

Turkey could return to the democracy in 1983 and the multi-party elections were held. Another three years were to pass before the Association Agreement began to operate again, with an Association Council meeting held at ambassadorial level in 1986.10 Thus, Turkey could apply for full membership in 1987, on the basis of the EEC Treaty's article 237 which gave any European country the right to do so.11 The Prime Minister zal played significant role on Turkeys application as he was different from the traditional former politicians and wanted to bring new openings in Turkeys political and economic relations with the world. Being the member of the European Economic Community was regarded as a necessity for Turkey politically as well as economically. Turkeys application was forwarded to the Commission; this confirmed the Turkish eligibility for membership and recognition as a European country. rejected by the European Commission.

In 1989 Turkeys application was

The Commission while rejecting the Turkeys

application claimed that there is a substantial economic and development gap between Turkey and the Community, and cited Turkeys disputes with Greece, the Cyprus issue and the level of democracy. To appease Turkeys discontent for the polite rejection of its EEC membership application in 1989, the European Commission initiated a renewed effort to accomplish a customs union between Turkey and the European Economic Community.13 The European Community regarded Turkey as a startegic huge market and wanted to improve economic cooperation. However, the funds provided from the Community to Turkey were blocked by Greece again.

10 11

Ibid. Turkish Ministry of EU Affairs, History of Turkey and the EU Relations, ( accessed April 14, 2012) 12 The Council forwarded Turkey's application to the Commission for the preparation of an Opinion. This has reconfirmed Turkey's eligibility, given that a similar application by Morocco was turned down by the Council on the grounds that Morocco is not a European country. 13 Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, The Changing Role of the EU Factor in Greek -Turkish Relations (Symposium Paper, London School Of Economics And Political Science, Hellenic Observatory, 1st PhD Symposium on Modern Greece: Current Social Science Research on Greece, London, 21-06-2003):2.

Greece applied for accession to the newly established European Economic Community in June 1959, and signed an Association Agreement with the EEC as early as 1961. The Athens Agreement was aiming Greeces accession to ECC within the 22 years. The agreement was frozen between 1967 and 1974 due to the existence of military junta in Greece. With the restoration of democracy in 1974, European welcomed Greece back, and in early 1975 Greece applied for full membership. The Turkish government regarded the Greek accession application as a political act aimed at getting a new international platform against Turkey.14 Stephanou and Tsardines claimed that Turkey by sending a survey ship to explore the east Aegean continental shelf in mid-July 1976 was trying to provoke a crisis between Greece and Turkey. By this way, Turkey could make visible the dangers of accepting Greece as a member state to the Community.

European Community was not in favor of being sided or involved in Greek-Turkish disputes before the Greek entry. Greeces desire for being a full member to the European Community was mainly security driven, and a need for protection against the Turkish threat. NATO, due to its pro-Turkish stance in the Cyprus crisis, lost its credibility among Greeks. Thus, Greece started to look for the alliance alternatives. Prime Minister Karamanlis made effort to convince European leaders for Greek membership. The commission regarded the Greek application as primarily political, and as a guarantee of safeguarding democracy in Greece. As such, for the EC, the admission of Greece was a political responsibility which we cannot refuse, except at the price of denying the principles on which it is itself grounded. 16 According to Pettifer, in the minds of most European leaders, there was a substantial element of Philhellenism. Greece was seen by these committed Philhellenists as the source of most civilization in Europe at an intellectual level, and deserving privileged treatment within the union in its drive to re-establish democracy.17 Soon in 1981, Greece joined the EEC as its tenth member.


The Economist, 21 June 1975 quoted in Susannah Verney, National identity and political change on Turkeys road to EU membership, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9, no. 3 (2007):214 15 Constantine Stephanou and Charalambos Tsardines, The EC and Greece-Turkey-Cyprus in The GreekTurksh Conflict in the 1990s: Domestic and External Influences, ed. Dimitri Constas ( London: Macmillian Publishing, 1991),209. 16 European Commission 1978, quoted in Susannah Verney, Greece and European Community, 261. *Philhellenism refers to the Love of the Greek culture. 17 James Pettifer, Greek Political Culture and Foreign Policy in Greece in a Changing Europe: Between European Integration and Balkan disintegration? eds. Kevin Featherstone and Kostas Ifantis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), 18. Philhellenism refers to the Love of the Greek culture.

Greeces accession to the European Economic Community in 1981 negatively affected Turkeys relations with the Community and later with the European Union. The rule of unanimity in the EEC decision-making process provided Greece with leverage in influencing Turkey-EEC relations.18 Greece succeeded to prevent and block the financial aid for Turkey provided from the community. The period between 1987 and 1995 can be marked as the period of Greeces isolationist policies towards Turkish membership. According to Yannas, since becoming a full member of the EEC in 1981, Greece tried to persuade the other EEC member states that the upgrading and / normalization of EEC- Turkey relations cannot proceed without substantial progress being made on issues that are of vital importance to Greece, that is, settlement of Greek Turkish disputes over the air space and continental shelf of the Aegean Sea and the resolution of the Cyprus problem.19 The veto power that Greece had with the membership and the unanimous nature of the Community decisions turned to a situation that Turkeys way to Europe passes through Athens. Greece started to impose the policy of conditionality towards Turkey and strengthened her bargaining power. Greece managed to transfer the Turkish- Greek issues to the Communitywide concern and succeeded to internationalize the Cyprus issue. Also, she was successful in receiving the Communitys solid support for her position in Cyprus.20

In the beginning of the 1990s, dissolution of Soviet Union and the collapse of the communist systems brought significant challenges for Greece as well as Turkey. Especially, Greece was affected from dissolution of Yugoslavia rather than the Soviet Union because the new states emerged in Balkans and created instability. The name dispute over Macedonia with FYROM, the problems with Albania and the bloddy war in Bosnia put Greece in a troubled position within the European Union. Greek pro-Serb stance over the Bosnian war was harshly criticized by the Europeans and her insistence over the name issue with FYROM could never been understood by the European partners. Greece by blocking the consensus within the Union and by using arbitrary vetos was labeled as the black sheep and awkard squard by the other European member states.

Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, The Changing Role of the EU Factor in Greek -Turkish Relations (Symposium Paper, London School Of Economics And Political Science, Hellenic Observatory, 1st PhD Symposium on Modern Greece: Current Social Science Research on Greece, London, 21-06-2003):2. s.pdf (accessed April 1, 2012) 19 Prodromos Yannas, The Greek Factor in EC- Turkey Relations in Greece and EC Membership Evaluated, eds. Panos Kazakos and Panagiotis C. Ioakimidis ( London:Pinter Publishers, 1994), 215. 20 Ibid, 216.

Turkey, contrary to the expectations, did not loose its strategic importance with the end of the Cold War. The Gulf War and the new international challenges which the United States involves, kept Turkeys position as an important player in the region. After the collapse of the Soviet regimes, the Turkic World which was under the Soviet domination has opened up as a new focus of attention to the Turkish policy makers. zal saw Central Asia as a new opportunity to expand Turkeys influence which could enhance the Turkeys strategic importance. Thus, the problematic relations with Europe could be balanced. This move was perceived as a threat by Greece as sounds expansionist and as an aim targeted greater Turkish influence.

The 1990s were also important years in terms of both deepening and widening of the European Community. The European Union officially came into being on 1 November 1993, when the Maastricht Treaty entered into force. It was a big step taken by the Community on the way of political union in addition to economic and monetary integration. The Maastricht Treaty created a European Union composed of three pillars: The European Community, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) which meant judicial cooperation between states in criminal matters.

The Treaty of Maastricht

represented a new stage in European integration since it opened the way to political integration. The Treaty introduced the concept of European citizenship, reinforced the powers of the European Parliament and launched the economic and monetary union (EMU). Moreover, the EEC became the European Community (EC). 22 In 1993, the Copenhagen criteria which set the conditions for EU membership were resumed in the EUs Cophenagen Summit. According to the Presidency Conclusion of the Summit; Membership requires that the candidate country has achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate's ability to take on the
21 22

Karen E. Smith, European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007), 26. The Summaries of EU legislation, The Treaty of Maastricht accessed June 12, 2011. work/treaties_maastricht_en.htm

obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.23 Turkey, in order to be the member, had to fulfill the political accession criteria by democratization and institutional reforms. The European Union was in favor of further economic integration with Turkey by realizing the Custom Union Agrrement. Due to the Greek veto it could only be achieved on 6 March 1995 when Greece lifted its veto against the Turkey-EU customs union agreement and the release of EU funds for Turkey provided for by the Fourth Additional Protocol.24 Greece while opening the way for Turkeys custom union aggrement put the precondition that the accession negotiations between Cyprus and the European Union would be guaranteed. This Greek move can be regarded as a milestone or U Turn in Greek Foreign Policy towards Turkish accession. However, it can also be stated that the shift was a product of traditional conditionality policy of Greece; guaranting Cyprus membership in exchange for lifting her veto over Turkeys custom union aggrement. The customs union agreement between Turkey and the European Union came into force on 1 January 1996. In Turkey, it was regarded as the first step for further political integration and the membership of the European Union. It was commonly believed that economically, the customs union aggrement would bring stability and increase the foreign investments and the competition with the European companies.

Following the customs union aggrement of the EU with Turkey, Turkish-Greek relations became tense again due to the sovereignty conflict over Kardak / Imia islets in the Aegean Sea. Two countries almost came to the brink of an armed conflict which could only prevented by the US intervention. It paved the way for the 1997 Madrid Declaration where the two states committed themselves not to use violence and undertake unilateral actions.25 The Simitis government in Greece put modernization and Europeanization as the priorities in their agenda and wanted to transfer Greece into the core of Europe from being a peripherial country within the EU. Simitis was in favor of developing closer relations with Turkey and used the Ocalan incident to rectify the nationalist-populist figures that involved this incident


Presidency Conclusions, Copenhagen European Council 1993, 7.A.iii ( accessed April 11, 2012) 24 Grigoriadis, The Changing Role of the EU Factor, 3. 25 Bahar Rumelili, The European Unions Impact on the Greek-Turkish Conflict, Working Papers Series in EU Border Conflicts Studies, no.6 (2004): 4

from the government and opened the way for the modernization.26 In 1999, Greece lifted her historic veto over Turkeys EU membership by realizing that the Europeanization of the Greek-Turkish disputes would serve better Greek interests. A Turkey on the path to Europe would be more inclined to accept Greeces conditions than a Turkey which was not politically engaged with Europe. Greeks believed that the EU would play a transformative role in bilateral relations than to keep Turkey out of the Union, which would leave Greece with an erratic, unpredictable but still powerful neighbor.27 EU accession process would transform Turkey to a less threatening country and would lessen the power of the military. The mutual conflicts between Turkey and Greece will be transferred to the European Union framework and would be solved during the accession negoatiations.

It can be stated that until 1999, the European Community / Union failed to have a positive impact on the Turkish-Greek conflicts and could not succeed to create detente between Turkey and Greece. Before Greeces accession to European Community, during the Cyprus crisis in 1974, Karamanlis who was aware of conflict with Turkey would hamper Greeces membership of the EEC, settled a policy of deterrence against Turkey. Also, in the 1976 crisis over the Aegean continental shelf, Karamanlis chose to deal with the crisis by taking the issue to the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, rather than by military means.28 The second crisis over the Aegean continental shelf in 1987 was restrained, this time due to the Turkeys application to the European Community. Prime Minister of Turkey zal was aware that improved relations with Greece were necessary to prevent a Greek veto and to strengthen Turkeys membership prospects in the EC.29 He made effort to open the way for dialogue with his Greek counterpart Papandreou hoping that the spirit of dialogue would led Greece to lift her veto on Turkeys membership. All those policy formations considering the European Union necessities, remained very limited. The EU could not be a framework for providing Turkish- Greek detente.


Turkeys public enemy number one and the head of the PKK, which had been waging a separatist insurgency against Turkey since 1984, Turkeys public enemy number one was apprehended by Turkey after spending a week as a guest at the Greek Embassy in Kenya. 27 James Ker-Lindsay, The Policies of Greece and Cyprus towards Turkeys EU Accession, Turkish Studies 8, no. 1(2007):73. 28 Rumelili, The European Unions Impact, 6. 29 Ibid, 7.

Following the crisis in 1987, Papandreou and zal met in World Economic Forum in Davos in 1988. However, this sprit of dialogue remained short lived and resultless as there was no public support for the rapprochement. Greece by putting forward the Cyprus dispute vetoed Turkeys accession to the Community.

In the 1990s, the European Union emerged as a more active player in the international relations and left its abstaining position in conflict resolutions. Conflicts between Turkey and Greece were expected to mediate by the NATO or the US involvement. Kardak / Imia crisis can be regarded as an example to the American involvement in which the conflict was ended with the personal involvement and efforts of the US President Bill Clinton. In the 1990s, as Greece has already been a member, the European Union only could use its sanction mechanisms on Turkey to resolve the Turkish-Greek disputes. Also, with Greeces membership, the EC has technically lost its third party capacity in Greek-Turkish disputes.30

In 1999, when Turkey was given the candidacy, Cyprus accession was already guaranteed by 2004 and unilateral pressures were putted on Turkey as a condition. Muftuler Bac states that Greece, which opposed Turkeys candidacy in Luxembourg, gave in at the 1999 Helsinki summit partly because the EU inserted in the Helsinki conclusions that Cypruss membership did not necessitate a settlement over the division of the island.31 The conclusions of the Helsinki summit put some conditions on Turkey with articles 4 and 9 emphasizing the fact that Turkeys eligibility for EU membership after Helsinki depended on resolving two issues: its border conflict with Greece, and the Cyprus dispute. Article 4 states that The European Council will review the situation relating to any outstanding disputes, in particular concerning the repercussions on the accession process and in order to promote their settlement through the International Court of Justice, at the latest by the end of 2004.32 According to Article 9 (a) of the Helsinki Conclusion, The European Council welcomes the launch of the talks aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on 3 December in

30 31

Ibid,9. Meltem Mftler Ba and Aylin Gney, The European Union and the Cyprus Problem 19612003, Middle Eastern Studies 41, no.2 (March 2005): 289. 32 Council Of The European Union, Helsinki Summit Conclusions Article 4, (accessed January 7, 2012)

New York and expresses its strong support for the UN SecretaryGenerals efforts to bring the process to a successful conclusion.33

On 12-13 December, during the Copenhagen Summit, Greece was among the few members of the European Union who supported and pushed to give an early date to Turkey to begin accession negotiations. Greece, acting together with Italy and Spain, argued that the European Union should reconsider Turkeys progress in the implementation of the Copenhagen criteria within 2003, so that Turkeys EU accession negotiations could start in 2004.34 This support was a product of the shift in Greek foreign policy from the exclusion of Turkey from the European Union to the belief that Turkey inside the Union constituted a lesser threat for Greece. Also, at the Copenhagen Summit, it was declared that the

negotiations with Cyprus had come to an end, and Cyprus would be a full member by 1 May 2004.35 This led Turkey to accelerate efforts to reach a solution regarding the Cyprus issue. The conservative and pro-European governments of the Justice and Development Party and its leader Tayyip Erdogan, together with other senior members of the government, have encouraged Turkish Cypriot Leader Denkta to strive to reach a settlement before Cyprus is admitted as an EU member in May 2004.36 It was a move to secure Turkish accession to the EU by removing Cyprus as a possible obstacle to Turkeys membership.

In the post-2002 era, with the Europeanization efforts of the Justice and Development Party government in Turkey, some steps were taken to make the necessary reforms for the EU membership. According to ni, Justice and Development Partys Europeanization efforts

Council Of The European Union, Helsinki Summit Conclusions Article 9 (a), (accessed January 11, 2012) 34 Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, The Changing Role of the EU Factor in Greek -Turkish Relations (Symposium Paper, London School Of Economics And Political Science, Hellenic Observatory, 1st PhD Symposium on Modern Greece: Current Social Science Research on Greece, London, 21-06-2003):5. s.pdf (accessed February 1, 2012) 35 See Article 1 of Copenhagen European Council Presidency Conclusions: The European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 launched an ambitious process to overcome the legacy of conflict and division in Europe. Today marks an unprecedented and historic milestone in completing this process with the conclusion of accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. The Union now looks forward to welcoming these States as members from 1 May 2004. (accessed January 14, 2012) 36 Tzn Baheli, Turning a New Page in Turkeys Relations with Greece? The Challenge of Reconciling Vital Interests, in Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, eds. Mustafa Aydn and Kostas Ifantis (London: Routledge, 2004), 115.

were aiming to protect religious conservatives from the pressures of the secular state elites. Similarly, secularists have conceived of EU membership as a means of protecting and consolidating the secular, Western-oriented character of Turkey, hence, as a medium of preventing further Islamization of Turkish.37 The period between the summer of 2002 until October 2005 (marking the formal opening up accession negotiations) can be marked as the golden age period when the passage of dramatic reform package from the Parliament.38 The Justice and Development Party government, in spite of the initial reservations when their Islamist background is concerned, acted as a reform oriented party during the golden age. The Brussels decision of 2004 clearly underlined the pace of transformation and reform that Turkey had experienced during this golden age period.39 During this period Turkey and Greece have enjoyed the dtente and spririt of reconciliation due to the Europeanization efforts in both countries and the high public support for the rapprochement. The civil society dialogue has increased since 1999 with the mutual

sympathy emerged as the product of the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece. This time the demand for rapprochement came from the societal level and civil society actors started to play important and independent role in Turkish-Greek relations. The European Union has a positive impact in this dialogue by promoting democratisation and civil society activity in Greece and in Turkey.40 The EU has begun to have a more direct connecting role through the Civil Society Development Program (CSDP) initiated by the Representation of the European Commission to Turkey. The CSDP has a special Turkish-Greek Civic Dialogue component, where the aim is to strengthen dialogue, networking, and partnerships specifically between civil society initiatives in Greece and in Turkey.41

With the sprit of Europeanization in Turkey and Greece, cooperation between the Turkish and the Greek NGOs has risen dramatically. Also, there have been important attempts in both countries to change the historical perception of other by cleaning up humiliating and nationalist discourse from the schoolbooks. For many years, Greeks were regarded as

Ziya ni, Contesting for Turkeys Political Centre: Domestic Politics, Identity Conflicts and the Controversy over EU Membership, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 18, no. 3(2010):361 38 Ibid, 363. 39 Ibid. 40 Rumelili, The European Unions Impact, 17. 41 Ibid.

unfaitfull, unreliable and spoiled while Turks were presented as barbaric, uncivilized and expansionist warriors.

In spite of the fact that the EU remained ineffective in resolving Turkish- Greek disputes, it played a significant role on promoting the civil society and by pressurring both Greece and Turkey it provided improvement in minority rights, especially in Greece.42 For many decades the Lausanne minorities ( Greeks in Istanbul and the Muslim / Turks of Greece who were excluded from the compulsary exhange of population) were regarded as the Trojen Horse of their kin states and faced with numeorus human right violations. In the 1990s, with the changing world order, and the growing sensitivity about the minority issues led Greece to take positive step on improvement the conditions of Muslim / Turkish minority in Greece. This liberalization process from the beginning of 1990s and continuing to the present directly linked up with the growing activism of European institutions around human rights and minority protection. In 1998, the racist and discriminative article of Greek citizenship was removed.


Council and Europe and the European Union played significant role on this removal. Removal of Article 19 also does not mean that there would be no automatic restitution of Greek citizenship for the more than 60,000 people who had been stripped of it on the grounds of Article 19. A person who wanted to get his / her citizenship back was given the chance to apply for citizenship through the normal, long and unpredictable naturalization process. Greece needs further improvements for providing the regaining citizenship for Article 19 victims. Turkeys human right violation record has been one of the most examined and debatable issue in Turkish- EU relations. The improvement in minority rights in Turkey only could be provided since 1999 with the European Union candidacy. Until 1999, with the repressive policies of the governments, a high percentage of the non-Muslim minorities of Lausanne treaty have left the country. The Copenhagen Criteria in 1993 pointed out that respect for minority rights is a prerequisite for the EU membership. Since 1999, many reforms were


By bounding the scope of this paper, only the Lausanne Minorities ( Greeks in Istanbul and Muslim/ Turks in Northern Greece) were mentioned. 43 Article 19 of the Citizenship Code that gave state authorities the discretion to rescind Greek citizenship from non-ethnic Greeks who left the country with no intention of returning.

achieved for improving the minority rights. However, it can be stated that as in the Greek case, further improvements are vital for reaching the European standards in minority rights.

As a product of Europeanization of minority rights in Turkey, the Constitution was amended in the direction of expanding fundamental rights and freedoms including minority rights. Seven reform packages attempted to achieve Turkeys convergence with the Copenhagen Criteria. In 2002 the right of non-Muslim foundations to own immovable properties and to dispose of them freely was recognized, and in 2003 the right of non-Muslim communities to build places of worship subject to the approval of the competent administrative authorities was recognized. Teaching as well as broadcasting of Kurdish and other minority languages was also allowed.44

The years 1999 and 2005 can be regarded as the period when Europe had been a framework providing dtente between Turkey and Greece. The europeanization efforts in both countries triggered the rapprochement and several improvements in the low politics were reached as a product of the europeanization. Cooperation between the non-governmental organizations, improvement in minority rights, avoiding further conflicts in the governmental level can be counted as the positive improvements. From the Greek side, Europe was regarded as a framework that would make Turkey more liberal, less threatening and aggresive. Turkey, with a desire of the full membership implemented some important reforms. As a result of these reform packages, the European Commission in its Progress Report on Turkey in October 2004 noted that Turkey was sufficiently fulfilling the political aspects of the Copenhagen criteria and accession negotiations could commence with Turkey.45

The year 2004 was a critical year in Turkey and the EU relations. The UN imposed Annan unification plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots, who had already been guaranteed EU membership by 1st May. 76% of Greek Cypriot voters rejected the Plan, while 65% of Turkish Cypriot voters accepted it.46 The Annan Plan required the emergence of a United Cyprus Republic which would be an independent state in the form of an indissoluble

Ioannis Grigoriadis, On the Europeanization of Minority Rights Protection: Comparing the Cases of Greece and Turkey, Mediterranean Politics 13, no.1 (2008):36. 45 The Council on 3 October 2005 decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey unanimously. Meltem Mftler Ba, Turkeys Accession to the European Union: The Impact of the EUs Internal Dynamics, International Studies Perspectives 9 (2008): 207. 46 Carol Migdalovitz, Cyprus: Status of U.N. Negotiations and Related Issues, CRS Report for Congress (2007) (accessed January 14, 2012)

partnership, with a federal government and two equal constituent states, the Greek Cypriot State and the Turkish Cypriot State.47

Turkish and Greek government actively supported the Annan Plan despite the strong nationalist criticism in the domestic sphere. However, Greek Cypriots who had already guaranteed the EU membership voted against the plan and by 1st May 2004, they became a member of the European Union. Since 2004, the Cyprus issue has become the issue of the European Union rather than being a dispute between Greece and Turkey. The accession process of Turkey is stucked because of Cypruss efforts to put more sanctions on Turkey, and Turkeys insistence on refusing to open ports to Cyprus which is not recognized by Turkey. Greek Cypriots are no more in need of Greeces international advocacy of the Cyprus issue. As an EU member, they can advocate their own national interests independently. However, despite the support they gave to the Annan Plan and their efforts to reach a settlement, the international isolation of the TurkishCypriots is still continuing. According to ni, The EUs failure to deal with the Cyprus conflict problem on an equitable basis was increasingly interpreted even among key members of the pro-EU, pro-reform coalition in Turkey as yet another case of unfair treatment.48 The Cyprus problem is still the most important obstacle on Turkeys membership. Before opening the accession negotiations, Turkey accepted the EU demand to extend its Customs Union Agreement to the new members. Thus, Turkey signed a legal document that would open its ports and harbors to vessels from Cyprus in July 2005.

Instead of the removal of

occupation forces from Cyprus and recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, the only condition the EU imposed on Ankara was that it had to sign a protocol extending the customs union with the EU to the ten new member states prior to 3 October 2005. In August 2005, the Turkish government signed the protocol by emphasizing that formal recognition of Cyprus would only be possible after a political settlement on the island. Turkey refused to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which does not represent the whole population of Cyprus. Turkey is insisting that unless the EU lifts the isolations to Northern part of the island, the protocol would not be implemented.


See: Annan Plan, Foundation Agreement Article 2 (a), (2004) (accessed January 14, 2012) 48 ni, Contesting for Turkeys Political Centre,365. 49 Mftler Ba, Turkeys Accession to the European Union,208.

In order to conclude the negotiations, 35 chapters has to be closed. Chapters of the acquis can only be opened and closed with the approval of all member states, and chapters provisionally closed may be reopened. The Turkish side is being asked to solve the Cyprus issue in order to unfreeze the eight chapters frozen due to the Additional Protocol crisis. The EUs passive policy after the Annan Plan referendum on Cyprus further exacerbated the problem since it left the Turkish side deeply disappointed.50 No new chapters of the aquis were opened in 2011 and very little progress appears to have been achieved within the chapters already under negotiation.51

Also, the stance of France and Germany concerning the Turkish accession created discontent in Turkish government and the public. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there is a black campaign led by France and Germany to destroy Turkish determination to become a member of the European Union.52 European credentials particularly in the core EU countries such as France and Germany has helped to create a serious nationalistic backlash in Turkey and strengthened the hands of anti-EU, anti-reform groups both within the state and the society at large.53 The proposed privelaged partnership rather than full membership

triggered the Euroskepticism in Turkey, this debate has taken a new turn with the French President Nicholas Sarkozys declaration that Turkeys place is not in Europe.54 This stance reinforced the widespread belief in Turkey that the EU is a Christian Club and there is no place in Turkey within the EU. The Euroskeptics in Turkey believe that there is an unfair threatment against Turkey and due to this unfairness the country will never be able to become a full member of the Union.


Muzaffer Vatansever, Turkish-Greek relations: One step forward, two steps back, Hurriyet Daily News, (accessed April 12, 2012)

Vincent Morelli, European Union Enlargement: A Status Report on Turkeys Accession Negotiations, CRS Report for Congress: Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress ( 2011): 10 ( accessed March 8, 2012) 52 France and Germany accused of Black campaign against Turkeys EU bid, Hurriyet Daily News, May 12, 2011. 53 ni, Contesting for Turkeys Political Centre,364.

Mftler Ba, Turkeys Accession to the European Union, 201.

In Greek side, Greek Foreign Policy has been shadowed by the debt crisis since 2008. Since then, Greek governments gave all their focus to overcoming the crisis. Greeces relationship with the European Union has regressed to an unequal economic partnership, with the EU as the lender and Greece as the borrower. According to Economides, today, Greece is in need of a foreign policy. In effect it does not have one.55 The main issues of Greek Foreign Policy remained the same for the decades; Turkey, Cyprus and FYROM. However, there has been no significant improvement in those issues that have benefited Greek interests. The hard security issues with Turkey remained the same, the FYROM name dispute could not be solved, even though Cyprus become a member of the European Union, the de facto partition of the island and the presence of the Turkish military in Cyprus continues. Economides states that the EU, which has, to some extent, shielded Greek interests from being undermined by these issues, has also not proved a strong enough incentive for those three states to be more amenable to a long-term accommodation with Greece. Thus, contrary to Greek expectations, the European Union could not provide a solution ground for the Cyprus issue, resolving Aegean disputes with Turkey, and the name dispute with FYROM and Greece could not reach the desired outcomes.56 There is also growing Euroskepticism in Greece due to the EU and IMF imposed austerity measures. Many discussions have gained momentum since the breakout of the Euro Debt crisis in Greece. People in Europe have started to question the future of European integration, especially the Euro zone. Henkel claims that, students in Athens, the unemployed in Lisbon and protesters in Madrid not only complain about national austerity measures, but also protest against Angela Merkel. 57 In their view, instead of uniting Europe, the Euro increases friction by making a powerful country more powerful while small countries get weaker day by day without a national monetary policy.


Sypros Economides, Greece Needs but does not have a Foreign Policy, Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek, No. 18 (2011) (accessed April 13, 2012)



Hans Olaf Henkel, A Skeptics Solution: Breakaway Currency, The Financial Times, August 29, 2001. (accessed November 16, 2011)

On the other hand, while Europe is in recession, Turkey became one of the fastest growing economy in the world. Politically, Turkeys role as a regional power is increasing as Turkey started to mediate the conflicts in the Middle east. There is a widespread belief that Turkeys need for the European Union is decreasing and also with the growing Euro-scepticism the EU started to be seen as an unattractive, crisis-ridden Project.58 The frustration of Turkish society and the political elites resulting from the unfair treatment of the EU, has turned to be a self-esteem that place the European Union as dispensable for Turkey. However, the Minister of EU Affairs Egemen Ba emphasized the significance of the EU membership by stating; Turkeys position is not driven by economic interests, we never saw the EU in this way. For us, Europe is the most extensive project for peace in all of human history. When we look at the member countries of the European Union, we find that peoples who have waged war for centuries now live in peace within the EU. The fact is due to the economic crisis, Europes international image and ability to attract other countries to its own economic and political model is deeply damaged.59 According to Tapnar, as Turkish people see the mess in Europe and the relative stability of their own economy, the Turkish public opinions already low level of enthusiasm for EU membership is now probably going even lower.60 The crisis is not the only factor in this Euroskepticism in Turkey, also the exclusionary policies of France and Germany (Sarkozy and Merkel) played significant role. According to surveys, public support in Turkey for EU membership has declined almost 30 percent and the majority of people think Turkey will never be accepted as an EU member. This dismal projection inevitably undermines the role of the EU in the Turkish foreign-policy-making agenda.61 The European Unions contribution to the deadlock in Cyprus by accepting it as a full member before reaching settlement and also the Unions

58 59

ni, Contesting for Turkeys Political Centre,364. mer Tapnar, The end of the EUs soft power?, Todays Zaman, May 17, 2010. ( accessed April 14, 2012)

60 61

Ibid. Ibid.

failure to realize its commitments to Turkish Cypriots created discontent in the Turkish public.

Especially since 2008, the EU lost its impact on Turkish- Greek relations. This study suggests that the EU should open the way to the frozen negotiations with Turkey, being aware of the fact that the negotiation process will benefit further democratization in Turkey. The Union should provide objective grounds for Turkish accession process and made effort to reach a solution in Cyprus by not only putting conditions on Turkey, also wholeheartedly contributing to the process. The EU also should benefit from Turkeys cultural and religious links with the Middle Eastern countries to become more influential actor in world politics. Turkey also should reconsider that the European Union is a political integration project and could not be reduced to an economic community. It is the most successful peace project in history, and is indispensable for Turkeys future. Greece and Turkey should improve governmental and societal dialogue by creating new areas of cooperation. The task groups should be established or better served to find solutions to the issues of high politics such as the Aegean disputes. The EU which aims to be more effective in international problems should play more significant role on resolving the disputes between Greece and Turkey.