European Union Enlargement: A Status Report on Turkey's Accession Negotiations [December 1, 2009] [open pdf - 189KB]
"October 2009 marked the fourth anniversary of the European Union's decision to proceed with formal negotiations with Turkey toward full membership in the Union. And, on October 15, the European Commission issued its fourth formal report on Turkey's accession progress. The Commission's 2009 report, like its previous reports, was marked by a mixed assessment of Turkey's accomplishments thus far in working through the various chapters of the accession process that have been opened. The report, while noting some progress in judicial reform and relations with the Kurds and Armenia, and little progress in other areas, contained nothing new or dramatic. Contrary to some views within Europe, the Commission did not view its 2009 report as any more significant or important than previous annual reports. For some in Europe, the focus now shifts to December 2009, when the EU Parliament will issue its own progress report and the EU Council must decide the next steps in the accession process. Many 'Turkey-skeptics' see December as a deadline for Turkish action that could mark a critical juncture for the future of Europe's relationship with Turkey and perhaps force EU member states into a difficult debate pitting loyalty to another member state, being shunned by a candidate for Union membership, versus Europe's long-term strategic interests in Turkey. The principal issues regarding Turkey's accession center around what the EU believes has been too slow of a pace for certain critical reforms within Turkey; a perceived ambivalence toward the EU by the current Turkish leadership; Turkey's failure to live up to its agreement to extend the benefits of its customs union with the EU to Cyprus, including the continued reluctance by Turkey to open its sea and air ports to Cypriot shipping and commerce until a political settlement has been achieved on Cyprus; and a continued skepticism on the part of many Europeans about whether Turkey should be embraced as a member of the European family. Further complicating the attitude toward Turkey is the ongoing debate within parts of Europe over the implications of the growing Muslim population in Europe and the impact Turkey's admission into the Union would have on Europe's future."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22517
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