Admitting that “Turkey had mishandled its rebellious Kurds,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan said democracy is needed, rather than oppression.
The U.S. Department of State said “The United States has long supported Turkey’s democratization efforts as it continues on its path toward the European Union.”
Turkey has made impressive strides in recent years on democratization and human rights issues. Because of that progress, the EU decided to grant Turkey a date to open European Union accession talks.
Turkey must implement the 2005 Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement and extend its customs union with the EU by opening its ports and airports to Greek-Cypriot traffic. This is not likely to happen any time soon.
Turkey has wanted to be part of Europe since 1959. At that time, it applied to become a member of the then European Economic Community (EEC). In 1963, it was granted associate membership, and that is where it has been stuck since then.
Spain joined the EEC in 1986 and a year later, Turkey applied for full membership and in 1996 it became the first non-EU member to form a Customs Union with the EU for industrial goods and processed agricultural products.
Turkey was not happy with the EU in 1997, when the Luxembourg summit decided to allow 10 candidate countries to join the EU, but Turkey was not included in the 10 that joined in May 2004.
Turkey’s progress was noted in the State Department’s annual human rights reports this year.
A State Department spokesman said “We commend the Turkish authorities and the Turkish people on their determined effort and will continue to support Turkey as it moves this process forward.”