Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey


  1.  Relations with Britain constitute one of Turkey's oldest links with Western Europe going back over four hundred years. Following the international developments of the twentieth century and experiences of the Cold War, formation of the Western Alliance, and, more recently, the developments in Europe and beyond since the end of the Cold War, Turkey and the UK find themselves at the beginning of a new century as long-time allies and economic partners that share similar values and visions.

  2.  Located at two opposite corners of the European landscape, Turkey and the UK have a common interest in continuing to forge a strong, mutually beneficial partnership. Turkey and the UK, as two NATO allies, have a common strategic approach on most regional and international issues, as well as co-operation in many diversified areas.

  3.  Turkey values the UK's unique position in Europe, with its strong ties with the US, as Turkish-American relations and the trans-Atlantic link constitute prominent features of Turkish foreign policy. The shape that the EU will take, and the role it will play regionally and globally, stands to benefit from the realistic and pragmatic approach associated with British thinking on foreign policy. Turkey too occupies a unique position in its region. A secular parliamentary democracy with a predominantly Muslim population, Turkey aims to provide for its people the highest standards of living, political participation and security. This objective is also reflected in Turkey's determination to join the EU. Given Turkey's location at the cross-roads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and its economic potential as well as its dynamic population, Turkey is well-placed to contribute to the political stability and the economic prosperity of its region. Moreover, Turkey's multi-cultural heritage and decades of democratic republican tradition in a turbulent region is the living proof of the compatibility of Islam, democracy and secularism, attesting thereby to the success of the Turkish model.


  4.  Full integration with the EU is one of Turkey's primary objectives. Turkey's historical interaction with Europe and its support for contemporary universal values combined with its geo-strategic and economic potentials form the necessary infrastructure upon which a mutually beneficial membership into the EU can be based. The socio-political transformation that Turkey has undergone since the early 1980s has brought Turkey closer to the EU. The Turkish Government and the Turkish people are well aware of the need to upgrade their institutions and sectors in line with EU requirements. Following the recognition of its candidacy at the EU Helsinki Summit of 1999, Turkey has launched a comprehensive process of reform aimed at harmonising its legislation and practices with EU acquis. In response to EU's adoption of the Accession Partnership document, the Turkish Government unveiled its National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis in March 2001. Under this programme, Turkey has realised a series of reforms which are in line with the Copenhagen criteria.

  5.  During 2001, significant progress was recorded in Turkish relations with the EU. Turkey has adopted amendments to its Constitution and has initiated a process of further legislative reform to guarantee fuller enjoyment of basic freedoms and human rights. More specifically, the Turkish Government has recently declared its plans to fulfil all its short-term commitments covered in the National Programme by the end of March 2002. On its part, the EU has recognised these achievements in the Presidency Conclusions of the Laeken European Council, reinforcing Turkey's perspective for full membership.

  6.  The prospect of accession to the EU enjoys a reassuring majority among political parties and the public at large. In fact, the ongoing reform process in Turkey has long assumed its own dynamics in line with the democratic aspirations of the Turkish people and the determination of the Turkish Government to meet the expectations of its people. Turkey expects the EU to fulfil its own obligations and to take steps commensurate with Turkey's achievements. In this context, Turkey attaches importance to the role that can be played by the UK in support of Turkey's EU membership.

  7.  Similarly, Turkey intends to accelerate the work being conducted in the harmonisation of the acquis. The eight sub-committees will now proceed in their work for a more "detailed scrutiny". The sub-committees will hold a third round of meetings under this new format, starting in March 2002. The work programme has already been determined and Turkey intends to complete most of this work during the Spanish presidency.

  8.  Turkey has a substantial agenda for 2002, supported by the political will and commitment, with which it intends to forge ahead to comply with the Copenhagen criteria. 2002 will be a crucial year in which Turkey has to complete its undertakings. Turkey's main objective in 2002 will be to secure a decision on a date for opening accession negotiations by the latest at the Copenhagen European Council. The EU, on its part, needs merely to treat Turkey without discrimination or ambivalence and consequently accord Turkey what is required by the accession process.


  9.  Turkey has consistently supported all efforts to give Europeans more responsibilities as regards their own security and defence. Turkey's stance in this regard has two main caveats. First and foremost, the transatlantic link should be preserved and any new arrangements pertaining to European security should not be to the detriment of Allied solidarity and cohesion. With this understanding, Turkey has worked to give the WEU a genuine operational capability, and has also supported the ESDI and the ESDP at the time of their inception.

  10.  As the WEU grinded to a halt, Turkey gave its consent to the NATO Washington Summit Decisions (1999) on ESDI and in particular on how the Alliance would support the EU's crisis management efforts. Turkey, as a NATO Ally, feels bound only by the Washington decisions in this field. These decisions must be adhered to in their totality as regards the interaction between NATO and the EU in the security domain. In this context, the delicate balance that was achieved at Washington between EU access to NATO assets and capabilities on the one hand, and the satisfactory participation of non-EU European Allies on the other, must be maintained. This is Turkey's point of departure as regards the arrangements that are to be developed between NATO and the EU.

  11.  It should be stressed that Turkey, as a candidate for EU accession, has no qualms about the EU developing a security and defence dimension. Nevertheless, as Turkey is not a member yet, the need to make sure that the arrangements between NATO and the EU take into consideration the concerns and interests of all the members of NATO and the EU become all the more apparent.

  12.  Turkey is located in a geography that neighbours the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea basins as well as the Middle East. According to NATO evaluations, a strong majority of the potential crisis situations may be anticipated in the vicinity of Turkey. Moreover, it is always possible that non-Article 5 operations can turn into Article 5 contingencies. This is why Turkey's participation in EU conflict prevention and crisis management activities is essential as any crisis in the region around it will almost certainly have economic, social, political and military implications for Turkey.

  13.  In this regard, there need to be permanent mechanisms that will provide the necessary guarantee that the national security interests of non-EU European Allies will be fully taken into consideration by the EU in the relevant aspects of the implementation of ESDP. This means effective participation in the EU process, including the preparation, planning and political control and strategic direction of EU operations.

  14.  In view of both the importance of the issue at hand and the Washington decisions, Turkey has persistently advocated the need to reach a satisfactory solution to the issue of the participation of non-EU European Allies in ESDP activities. For the most part, Turkish initiatives to resolve this issue did not find many supporters among the Allies that were also EU members and, despite the Washington decisions, many Allies took the position that this issue was for the EU to resolve internally.

  15.  As Turkey's strong reservations became more apparent for all Allies, the need to find a solution to this issue became increasingly evident. In this general setting, the UK initiated a process to find a solution to this issue in the spring of 2001. After successive meetings in Istanbul, Ankara and London and then again in Ankara, with the US in a facilitating role, a compromise text was finally attained in Ankara and the Turkish Government endorsed this outcome on 2 December 2001.

  16.  However, the EU could not adopt this compromise at the EU Council meetings in December and consequently, a decision on the interlinked issue of assured EU access to NATO planning capabilities, as envisaged at Washington, could not be taken at the NATO ministerial meetings in December either.

  17.  Turkey appreciates the role played by the UK in finding a solution that may be acceptable both to Turkey and the EU on the politically sensitive issue of participation. The UK's further efforts to bring this process to a successful conclusion in the EU on the basis of the existing Ankara compromise text will enable the necessary decision to be taken in NATO on assured EU access and also for work to proceed on the other important aspects of the ESDI agenda.


  18.  Cyprus is the common homeland of both the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot peoples who are of different culture, language, religion and nationality. Before the United Kingdom relinquished its sovereignty over Cyprus, it recognised in 1956 and 1958 through its Government statements in the Parliament, that the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot peoples are the two co-owners of the Island and that they have separate rights to self-determination. However, the failure of the international community over the years to recognise this reality has hindered finding a lasting and mutually acceptable settlement of the Cyprus issue.

  19.  The acknowledgement of the existence of two equal peoples in the Island and their two sovereign States holds the key to a peaceful future in the Island. Neither side has the power or capacity to represent or to speak on behalf of the other party or for the entire Island. The two States in Cyprus each represent only one of the two peoples and their actions are confined to their own population and to their own territory.

  20.  In this context, Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have fundamental objections to the application of the Greek Cypriots to the EU and the processing of this application by the EU. This position is based on the 1960 Treaties on Cyprus which render such a unilateral course of action illegal under international law. Given the traumatic history of the Island, the legal and political facts and realities as well as the moral aspect of the issue further substantiate the Turkish position.

  21.  Turkey supports the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General and hopes the direct talks initiated on 16 January 2002 between the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot leaders will lead to a realistic, viable and just settlement in Cyprus.


  22.  Turkey and the UK have worked together in facing the common challenges that have arisen in the past decades. They have both taken action against the threat of terrorism demonstrated by the events of 11 September. As has been stated by Turkey prior to 11 September, terrorism does not pertain to any single geography, nor does it recognise any national boundaries. Likewise, effective combat with terrorism requires a comprehensive international approach. The struggle against terrorism should not be compromised by selectivity. Turkey was dismayed that the final lists published in the official EU Gazette on 28 December 2001 did not incorporate the terrorist organisations which are a threat to Turkey and which are able to operate from some EU member states. Turkey appreciates the inclusion of these organisations in the list of proscribed organisations in the UK under the Terrorism Act 2000. It is nevertheless disheartening to see that proscribed terrorist organisations and their affiliates continue to blatantly defy this Act.

  23.  As regards the recent international initiatives to neutralise the scourge of terrorism, the UK has commendably assumed a leading role. Turkey is one of the troop-contributing nations to ISAF under UK command. Turkey stands ready to further contribute to this international effort, including the possibility of taking over the command role of the international forces in Afghanistan after the UK. Turkey also intends to play its role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan taking into account its historic relationship with this friendly country and its ties to Central Asia.

  24.  The potential of co-operation and partnership between the UK and Turkey has not been fully exploited. The economic, social, political and strategic benefits that will derive from such a relationship are too important to ignore.

  25.  The United Kingdom is one of the major trading and financial partners of Turkey. Bilateral trade between the two countries was 4.7 billion US Dollars in the year 2000, constituting 7.3 per cent and 5 per cent of Turkey's total exports and imports respectively. On the other hand, the UK is one of the biggest investors in Turkey. Co-operation between HSBC and Demirbank is one of the latest successful examples. Turkey hopes new partnerships will follow suit. There is still an important potential for economic co-operation between the two countries.

  26.  Tourism constitutes an important channel of contact between British and Turkish people. Approximately one million tourists from the UK visit Turkey annually. Turkey hopes to host greater number of British tourists in the coming years. Similarly, further development of cultural contacts will contribute to a deeper understanding between the people of both countries.

  27.  Finally, Turkey appreciates the interest of the Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding UK's relations with Turkey. As part of the need to increase and deepen these relations, contacts between the two Parliaments need to be enhanced. Interaction at the parliamentary level will help the development of a better understanding of each other on both sides. As such, Turkey hopes that the encouraging and supportive voice of the House of Commons will be conducive to recognising and bringing to life the full potential of Turkish-UK co-operation in all fields.

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey

January 2002

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