European Union-Turkey: from an illusory membership to a ‘Privileged Partnership’

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Series Details No.437, June 2017
Publication Date 12/06/2017
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When the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered the meeting room of the European Council in Brussels on the evening of 17 December 2004, he came to fulfil the dream that Turkey had been nursing since its signature of the Association Agreement on 12 September 1963, the so-called Ankara Agreement: to open membership negotiations with the European Union. That was the historic decision taken by the heads of States and governments, supported by European Parliament on 15 December, with 407 votes in support, and 262 against. A day of glory for Erdogan's government and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) that had entered office only two years previously, on 3 November 2002. However, Erdogan's stern expression revealed a great deal of frustration - of having to accept the additional Protocol to the agreement, to extend membership to the Republic of Cyprus and to nine other States that became EU Member States on 1 May 2004. This was the condition that the European Council had set on the opening of the negotiations.

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