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Throughout the years, Turkey’s relations with the European Union has had
fluctuations, and it has been the nature of all human-involved relationships. However, in the
last 24 years, it might be right to say that it is only getting worse. Özdem Sanberk (R.
Ambassador), in his online article, classified problems as tensions with Greece, the European
Union’s unnecessary attitude towards Turkey, and lack of empathy as well as a compromise
not coming from both sides. Even it is possible to widen the causes of decremental
characteristics of the relation between Turkey and the EU, this essay aims to stay in the
predetermined frame provided by former Ambassador Sanberk.
Turkey’s application to the Union is dating back to 40 years. Even though, the
membership application had been reflected as a progressive one, considering the long time
and rare improvements: This process is not an advancing one. On the one hand, Customs
Union is an achievement for both sides, belongs to the 24 years ago, and on the other,
promised membership status had never been acquired by Turkey.
Greek Cypriots’ application, many years after Turkey’s, was admitted despite “they
rejected the UN and EU peace proposals in a referendum” (Sanberk, 2020). Moreover, there
was not a made-agreement on the divided island accordingly. Since then, Greece has acquired
the full-member status and use its ‘veto right’ against Turkey continuously.
Whilst Greece membership creating one of the causes of tension between Turkey and
Greece, the second one is perceived as arbitrary map designs coming from Greece on the
issues such as seabed issue and exclusion of Turkey in energy agreements according to
Sanberk (2020). According to Greece-made maps, Turkey’s seabed rights are narrowed as if
it is a ‘narrow strip’ along the southern coasts, which is an unsubstantial design on the
In addition to the former issue, exclusion of Turkey from energy trades taking part in
the eastern Mediterranean is no better for Turkey. This thought blockade towards Turkey is
quite hostile and not logical. Sanberk (2020) argues that gas line passing through Turkey “
would be the cheapest and most effective route” whereas the planned alternatives such as
‘EastMed’ -for gas- and ‘EuroAsia Interconnector’ -for electricity- would extract Turkey
from the route could be the “by far longest coastline” (Sanberk, 2020).
The bigger picture and the main issue here is the contribution of the European Union
on each topic. Neutral years of EU on the political developments between Turkey and Greece
were stated as the 1950s and ’60s. After Greece’s full membership on January 1st,1981
transformed the EU’s attitude towards Turkey negative and being against Turkey namely
every situation took place. Acting with the assumption of “community solidarity” and
presumed supremacy – as Merkel did in her latest statement about eastern Mediterranean-,
European Union provoked “consequences could be with us for centuries” (Sanberk, 2020).
As for the unimaginable seabed rights and blockade over energy issues, the EU again stood
up for Greece by denigrating Turkey’s noncompliance with given issues. This fairly “single-
sided exclusionary policy of EU” received Turkey’s angry reaction naturally.
What can be done is extracting tensions between Greece and Turkey by negotiating
in a peaceful and compromising attitude for both sides, and the Union should reward a
conciliatory manner while punishing otherwise (Sanberk, 2020). Trade negotiations and visa
conditions must be enhanced and practiced. Turkey’s criticized recent policies should be
rethought with an “act of empathy” and responded accordingly. Turkey also should not burn
the bridges between her and the EU, and continue to improve herself in every branch both
domestically and internationally, to become one of the developed countries.
This article is written by Ayça Süngü