Turkey on its 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 an 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

Given the EU intention to support Turkey, the country does not have the luxury of engaging in confrontations with Greece and Cyprus. The interests of 65 million Turkish citizens depend largely on Turkey’s EU bid. 

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.[iii] This indistinguishability in the actions of the two sides is acknowledged by outsiders to the conflict. [iv]

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

There are enduring rivalries with Greece, resulting from crises in Cyprus, Thrace, and the Aegean, as well as the support that Turkey claims Greece and Cyprus have given PKK.

Domestic Challenges: 1

Turkey suffers the most devastating earthquake in its recent history, leading to a social outcry that threatens the state, its newly-revealed deficiencies, and incumbent political elites. The current coalition government headed by leftist Ecevit is supported by the ultra-nationalist MHP. Its leader Bacheli threatens to leave the government if concessions are made over Cyprus or the Aegean

Confrontational Policies (dependent variable): 0

Turkey reaches a compromise with Greece at Helsinki.



[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] “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.

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

[v] “Bahceli, Kutan: No Concessions on Cyprus and the Aegean,” Turkish Daily News, December 15, 1999