Greece on Turkey’s EU bid in Helsinki (1999)   

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636)

Case Summary:

In December 1999, Turkey and the EU member countries negotiate over granting Turkey applicant member status. Turkish politicians, including the President of Turkey, Süleyman Demirel, threaten Greece with reprisals if the country vetoes Turkey’s accession bid again.[i] Turkey is asked to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court in The Hague concerning the Aegean disputes by 2004 at the latest and not to retaliate over the accession of Cyprus to the EU.[ii] Lexis/Nexis provides 59 results for the terms “Greece,” “Turkey,” “crisis,” and “negotiations” for the period 12/1/1999 to 1/1/2000 (full text search under European News Sources).

Case Study Features

Effectiveness of Offensive Policies: 0

Greece has more to gain by compromising with Turkey. The EU candidacy status comes with two conditions for Turkey that most Greeks and Greek Cypriots see as favoring themselves.[iii] Three major developments contribute to the shift in Greek foreign policy: 1) Turkey’s manifest desire to compromise; 2) Turkey’s accumulated anger over the Öcalan incident; 3) the willingness of all other EU countries to grant Turkey candidacy status.

Offensive vs. Defensive Signals Indistinguishable: 1

The EU candidacy talks suffer from this indistinguishability. By blocking Turkey’s accession, Greece defends vital interests in Cyprus and the Aegean, but Turkish President Süleyman Demirel sees this as a hostile move against his country.[iv] This indistinguishability in the actions of the two sides is acknowledged by outsiders to the conflict. [v]

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

There are “enduring ethnic rivalries,” resulting primarily from the conflicts in Cyprus, Thrace, and the Aegean.

Domestic Challenges: 1

The Greek government is due to face elections in September 2000 (elections take place in April 2000).[vi]

Confrontational Policies (dependent variable): 0

Greece endorses Turkey’s EU accession bid.


[i] Peter Norman, “Better ties at risk, Turkey warns Greece, Helsinki Summit Warning over Athens-Imposed Hurdles to Ankara’s Candidacy for EU Membership,” Financial Times, December 10, 1999, p.2.

[ii] Wes Jonasson, “Politics-EU: ‘Constructive Ambiguity’ for Turkey, Greece and Cyprus,” IPS- Inter Press Service, December 13, 1999.

[iii] “Simitis - Greece has achieved all its objectives in Helsinki,” M2 Presswire, December 13, 1999; “Majority of Greeks Welcome Helsinki Decision on Turkey’s EU,” Xinhua General News Service, December 12, 1999; “Ecevit Yilmaz Deny Turkey Made Concessions,” Turkish Daily News, December 15, 1999.

[iv] “Warning to EU: Refusing Candidacy Status may Spoil Climate of Turkish-Greek Ties,” Turkish Daily News, December 7, 1999; Ilnur Cevik and Yusuf Kanli, “Exclusive Interview with President Demirel,” Turkish Daily News, December 10, 1999.

[v] “EU/Turkey: Intense Negotiations on Eve of Helsinki European Council”, December 1, European Report, 1999.

[vi]“An election that really makes a difference”, The Independent, April 11, 2000, p.3.