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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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


Vincent Morelli
Section Research Manager

October 2011 marked the sixth anniversary of the European Union’s decision to proceed with formal negotiations with Turkey toward full membership in the Union. It also marks the beginning of the annual period when all three European Union institutions—the Council, Commission, and Parliament—provide their assessment of the progress Turkey has made or failed to accomplish in the accession process over the previous year and issue recommendations on whether and how Turkey’s accession process should proceed. On October 12, 2011, the EU Commission, the first institution to act, issued its annual assessment to the Council and Parliament. While noting the continued importance of Turkey to the EU, the Commission expressed its disappointment over the lack of any significant progress in the accession talks and pledged to intensify its work with Turkey on its domestic reforms.

Throughout 2011, significant developments have taken place in Turkey, including a national election in June that returned the governing AK Party to power, a shake-up of the Turkish military, and several foreign policy developments involving Syria, Iran, Cyprus, and Israel. With respect to accession, no additional chapters of the EU’s rules and regulations known as the acquis communautaire were opened in 2011, leaving some to conclude that Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU had reached a complete 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 recently by a UK parliamentary committee report addressing the risks it saw in Turkey becoming a member of the Union; 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 a growing number of Turks whose questioning of Turkey’s need to join the EU has begun to be heard on a more public and regular basis while discussions of the EU seem to have become less regular in the internal Turkish debate over its future. The accession talks could take a further step back if Prime Minister Erdogan follows through on his threat to freeze all relations with the EU if Cyprus assumes the rotating presidency of the EU Council on July 1, 2012, as it is preparing to do.

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 transit hub; and a partner in issues involving the Black Sea, the broader Middle East, and the Caucasus. Although some Members have expressed support for Turkey’s membership in the EU, the level of congressional support seems to have diminished as congressional concerns with several of Turkey’s recent foreign policy developments have surfaced. The 112th Congress may 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: October 19, 2011
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: RS22517
Price: $29.95

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Northern Ireland: The Peace Process


Kristin Archick
Specialist in European Affairs

Since 1969, over 3,500 people have died as a result of political violence in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom. The conflict, which has its origins in the 1921 division of Ireland, has reflected a struggle between different national, cultural, and religious identities. The Protestant majority (53%) in Northern Ireland defines itself as British and largely supports continued incorporation in the UK (unionists). The Catholic minority (44%) considers itself Irish, and many Catholics desire a united Ireland (nationalists).

For years, the British and Irish governments sought to facilitate a political settlement. After many ups and downs, the two governments and the Northern Ireland political parties participating in the peace talks announced an agreement on April 10, 1998. The resulting Good Friday Agreement (also known as the Belfast Agreement) called for devolved government—the transfer of power from London to Belfast—with a Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive Committee in which unionist and nationalist parties would share power. The agreement also contained provisions on decommissioning (disarmament), policing, human rights, UK security normalization (demilitarization), and the status of prisoners.

Despite a much improved security situation in the years since then, full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has been challenging. For years, instability in Northern Ireland’s devolved government was the rule rather than the exception; decommissioning and police reforms were key sticking points. The devolved government was suspended for the fourth time in October 2002 amid a loss of trust and confidence on both sides of the conflict; this suspension lasted almost five years. During this time, London and Dublin led talks with Northern Ireland’s political parties to try to find a way forward.

On May 8, 2007, Northern Ireland’s devolved political institutions were restored following a power-sharing deal between the traditionally anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The DUP and Sinn Fein are the largest unionist and nationalist parties, respectively, in Northern Ireland and have long been viewed as the two most polarized forces in Northern Ireland politics. London and Dublin hoped that this deal would entrench the political settlement embodied in the Good Friday Agreement and produce a politically stable devolved government.

In 2008, the DUP and Sinn Fein clashed over the outstanding issue of transferring authority for policing and justice affairs from London to Belfast. Given the sensitive nature of this portfolio, the parties had been unable to agree on its devolution at the time of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. After protracted negotiations, the parties reached a deal in February 2010 paving the way for the devolution of police and justice powers in April 2010.

Successive U.S. administrations and many Members of Congress have actively supported the Northern Ireland peace process. The United States provided development aid through the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) between 1986 and 2010. In recent years, congressional hearings have focused on the peace process, police reforms, and the status of public inquiries into several murders in Northern Ireland in which collusion between the security forces and paramilitary groups is suspected. Many such issues related to Northern Ireland, including the future of the IFI, may continue to be of interest in the 112th Congress.



Date of Report: October 17, 2011
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RS21333
Price: $29.95

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive


Vincent Morelli
Section Research Manager

Attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem and reunify the island have undergone various levels of negotiation for over 45 years. Throughout 2011, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have continued the negotiation process but have thus far failed to reach a mutually agreed settlement. This stalemate has resulted in a solution for unification still far from being achieved and, coupled with other events, has raised the unfortunate specter of a possible permanent separation.

Although both sides have intimated that some convergence of views has been reached in the areas of governance, economy, and EU issues, Christofias and Eroglu have not found common ground on the difficult issues of property rights, security, settlers, and citizenship, areas where both sides have long-held and very different positions and where neither side seems willing or able to make necessary concessions.

On July 7, 2011, Christofias and Eroglu traveled to Geneva to meet for a third time with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban suggested that the negotiations conclude by mid-October and that the three meet on October 30 to discuss what progress had been achieved. Following that an international conference would be held to discuss security issues and that referenda would be scheduled in both the north and south by the spring of 2012. The hope among some was that a reunified Cyprus would assume the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1, 2012.

Events over the course of the summer and early fall have raised doubts regarding a settlement being reached by the end of 2011, let alone by the end of October when the two leaders meet with Ban. First, the results of parliamentary elections held in Greek Cyprus in May initially appeared to have had no bearing on the status of the negotiations. However, when the last remaining partner in the governing coalition, the DIKO Party, withdrew from the coalition, President Christofias was left without a majority in Parliament and isolated in the negotiations. Second, on July 11 a tragic munitions explosion at the Mari naval base killed several people and damaged a major power generating station. In October, when an independent investigation concluded that President Christofias was ultimately responsible for the accident calls for his resignation grew louder and forced Christofias to defend his presidency. Third, in mid-July, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, on a visit to northern Cyprus, warned that a final agreement on Cyprus needed to be achieved by the end of 2011 or the island could remain split and stated that no security or territorial compromises by the Turkish Cypriots would be acceptable. He also stated that Turkey would essentially freeze its relations with the EU during the Cypriot presidency of the EU if there were no solution to the Cyprus issue because Ankara could not accept the presidency of South Cyprus, which it does not recognize. Finally, the Government of Cyprus announced that it would begin drilling for natural gas off the southern coast of Cyprus, prompting both Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots to protest that such a move would jeopardize the settlement negotiations.

The United States Congress continues to maintain its interest in a resolution of the Cyprus issue. Language expressing continued support for the negotiation process has been included in the House FY2012 Foreign Assistance Authorization bill. The Chairman of the House Europe Subcommittee also led a delegation to Cyprus during a Fall recess to assess the peace process.

This report provides a brief overview of the early history of the negotiations, a more detailed review of the negotiations since 2008, and a description of some of the issues involved in the talks.



Date of Report: October 1
3, 2011
Number of Pages:
24
Order Number: R4
1136
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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