The European Union (EU) - Turkey relations has a long history. Turkey applied for associate membership in 1959, just two years after the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC). The application resulted in the Ankara Agreement – an association agreement – signed in 1963 in order to take Turkey into a customs union, and finally full EEC membership. However, no timetable for the full membership was foreseen. In 1989, Turkey applied for EU membership, and was granted a candidate status following the Helsinki European Council of December 1999. Turkey’s accession negotiations were opened on 3 October 2005 after 16 years since its original application.
Throughout Europe, the debate on the Turkey's membership covers a series of issues, ranging from demographic through geographic to political. With regard to demographic figures, it is forecasted that Turkey’s population will exceed that of Germany by 2020. Thereby, Turkey would be the biggest country in the EU, and it would obtain substantial power in the EU decision-making process. With membership, Turkey will be part of the European single market involving the freedom of the movement of persons. This is why there are some serious concerns about migrations from Turkey to the EU.
A sensitive discussion issue is the cultural and religious differences reflecting the majority Muslim population of Turkey. Some Europeans perceive Turkey as an Asian or a Middle Eastern country rather than a European country. Besides, Cyprus issue – as a divided island – is the centre of the political arguments. Turkey still does not recognize Cyprus officially, and closes its harbours and airports to Cyprus. Turkey demands an end to the Northern Cyprus isolation on the base that the Greek side of the island rejected the United Nation's plan in 2004. The minority rights regarding the Kurdish population within Turkey, and Turkey’s relations with Armenia are the other political issues mentioned...