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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

European Union Enlargement: A Status Report on Turkey’s Accession Negotiations


Vincent Morelli
Section Research Manager

October 2010 marked the fifth anniversary of the European Union’s decision to proceed with formal negotiations with Turkey toward full membership in the Union. It also marked the beginning of the annual period when all three European Union institutions, the Council, Commission, and Parliament, provide their assessment of the progress Turkey had made or failed to accomplish in the accession process over the previous year and to issue recommendations on whether and how Turkey’s accession process should proceed. The EU Commission released its assessment report on November 9, 2010. The Council followed with their “conclusions” on December 14, 2010. Neither institution provided the kind of positive endorsement of the accession talks that pro-EU supporters in Turkey would have hoped for, leading some to believe that the EU might be losing interest in Turkey and that some in Turkey would become even more disillusioned with the EU.

On March 9, the European Parliament issued what some believed was the most critical assessment of Turkey’s EU accession progress to date, prompting a somewhat angry response from Ankara, including an accusation from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that the Parliament’s report was written by people who did not know Turkey.

Despite developments that took place in Turkey throughout 2010, its EU accession process continued at a relatively slow pace. Only one additional chapter of the EU’s rules and regulations known as the acquis communautaire was opened in 2010, leaving some to speculate that Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU were heading for a political and technical stalemate. The principal issues regarding Turkey’s accession continue to be what the EU believes has been too slow of a pace for implementing critical reforms within Turkey and possibly even a few steps backward in the area of press freedoms; Turkey’s continued refusal to extend diplomatic recognition to Cyprus or 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; continued skepticism on the part of many Europeans whether Turkey should be embraced as a member of the European family fueled, in part, by 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; and a perceived ambivalence toward the EU by some in the current Turkish leadership and a growing segment of its population. In fact, for the first time comments among Turks questioning Turkey’s need to join the EU have begun to be heard on a more public and regular basis.

This report provides a brief overview of the EU’s accession process and Turkey’s path to EU membership. The U.S. Congress has had a long-standing interest in Turkey as a NATO ally, a regional energy hub, and a partner in issues involving the Black Sea, Iran, Iraq, the broader Middle East, and the Caucasus. Although many Members have expressed support for Turkey’s membership in the EU, congressional concerns with several of Turkey’s recent foreign policy developments have surfaced. The 112
th Congress will likely continue to review Turkey’s relations with the UNITED STATES, the impact of the EU accession process on internal political and economic reforms in Turkey, and Turkey’s apparent intent to become a more independent regional foreign policy influence.


Date of Report: March 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: RS22517
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress


Marjorie Ann Browne
Specialist in International Relations

A major issue facing the United Nations, the United States, and the 111th Congress is the extent to which the United Nations has the capacity to restore or keep the peace in the changing world environment. Associated with this issue is the expressed need for a reliable source of funding and other resources for peacekeeping and improved efficiencies of operation.

For the United States, major congressional considerations on U.N. peacekeeping stem from executive branch commitments made in the U.N. Security Council. The concern with these commitments, made through votes in the Council, is the extent to which they bind the United States to fund and to participate in some way in an operation. This includes placing U.S. military personnel under the control of foreign commanders.

Peacekeeping has come to constitute more than just the placement of military forces into a ceasefire situation with the consent of all the parties. Military peacekeepers may be disarming or seizing weapons, aggressively protecting humanitarian assistance, and clearing land mines. Peacekeeping operations also now involve more non-military personnel and tasks such as maintaining law and order, election monitoring, and human rights monitoring.

Proposals for strengthening U.N. peacekeeping and other aspects of U.N. peace and security capacities have been adopted in the United Nations, by the U.S. executive branch, and by Congress. Some are being implemented. Most authorities have agreed that if the United Nations is to be responsive to 21
st century world challenges, both U.N. member states and the appropriate U.N. organs will have to continue to improve U.N. structures and procedures in the peace and security area.

This report serves as a tracking report for action by Congress on United Nations peacekeeping.



Date of Report: February 11, 2011
Number of Pages: 59
Order Number: RL33700
Price: $29.95

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