Nothing illustrates better the loss of impulse in the enlargement project than the European Union's relations with Turkey, which is the longest-standing membership applicant. The EU's relations with Turkey have historically been problematic and the member states have been divided over how to handle the country. Turkey is a member of NATO and the Council of Europe and it is located in a very very sensitive region - Turkey's neighbours included Syria, Iran or Iraq.
Turkey is a democracy, but there have been some overthrows in the past and the military has played an important role in politics. There have been human rights problems: torture has been practised, freedom of expression has not been protected, and the use of force against Kurdish has provoked civilian casualties.
Turkey is also a very large and mostly agricultural country, and this is quite problematic facing the EU accession.
Although the state is secular, its population is mostly Muslim. This fact has been the focus of debates regarding Turkey's membership bid. To its opponents, Turkey lacks the requirement of “European Identity”.
In 1987, Turkey applied for membership. In 1989, the Commission's opinion concluded that it would not be appropriate to open accession negotiations.
In 1997, the European Council placed Turkey in its own separate category of applicant states - Thurkey suspended its relations with the EU.
The EU's policy towards Turkey changed. The european Council in December 1999 classified Turkey as an official candidate. However, the Council made it clear that membership negotiations would only be opened once the political conditions had been met. These political conditions are collected in
- The Treaty of Rome in its article 237, stating that Any European state may apply to become a member of the Community. The Amsterdam Treaty added that Any European State that respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental...