Greece’s Shifting Position on Turkish Accession to the EU Before and After Helsinki (1999). (Dimitrios Lucas)


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            Relations between Greece and Turkey have a rich history marked by interchanging periods of stability and tension.  The first problems in the relations between the two neighbours may be traced back to the time of the Greek war of independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 1820s and even perhaps before that, to the Ottoman Turkish conquest of then Byzantine Greece.  Relations between Greece and Turkey reached a low point in the early part of the 20th century which led to armed conflict.  A short period of rapprochement in the 1930s gave way to the return of a troubled relationship in the 1960s.  The 1974 debacle in Cyprus started a new period of on and off intense bilateral relations with disagreements on previously forgotten issues.  The two neighbours reached the brink of war twice, in 1987 and in 1996, putting bilateral arguments above their common NATO membership and bypassing the effects that it would have on Turkey’s future in the European Union (EU).

            The events which have marked the relations of the modern states of Greece and Turkey have had a profound effect in the shaping of foreign policies by both Greek and Turkish governments.  Moreover, the problems which have thwarted Greek-Turkish relations in the past thirty years have become a leading factor in shaping Greece’s position on Turkey’s future within the European Union.  This paper will therefore attempt to portray the shift of Greece’s policy towards the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the EU since the time of the official Turkish application to the EU’s predecessor, the European Community (EC).  Additionally, the interchanging effect of the EU decisions on Greek-Turkish relations and Greek-Turkish relations on EU decisions will be explained.  Several events and occurrences along with the change of governments in both countries have played a role in the shift of Greek policy which occurred due to the circumstances which appeared in the mid and late 1990s.  The analysis of these events will reveal the reasons of how and why the policy change occurred in Greece’s policy since the time of the Turkish application to the EC/EU in 1987.  That is the shift from being Turkey’s stumbling block in its European aspirations to becoming one of Turkey’s most ardent supporters within the European Union. 

            The historical aspect of Greek-Turkish relations is important to understand because the issues which have separated the neighbours from stable and friendly relations for many times in the last three decades have affected Greece’s position towards a possible Turkish accession to the EU.  There are four main issues which at times have seemed like an insurmountable hurdle for Greece and Turkey to overcome.  Consequently, Greece’s approach to reaching a solution with Turkey over these issues has shaped Greek policy towards EU-Turkey relations.  Although Greek policy on these issues has changed since Turkey’s application for EU membership, they have nevertheless still remained a priority for Greece, which seeks viable solutions for these problems with its neighbour.

            The most central of these four issues is the lack of agreement on the Cyprus problem.  Greece and Turkey disagree and have always disagreed about the events of 1974, with Turkey claiming that its military presence was an intervention on behalf of the Turkish-Cypriots and Greece proclaiming that it was a Turkish invasion on the island of Cyprus.[1]  Ever since 1974, all subsequent governments of Greece and Turkey have failed to reach a viable solution (along with the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots) on reuniting the island.  Little ground has been made on reaching a solution, although it has often seemed that during some periods a solution would be possible.  Consequently, the lack of a resolution to the problem has lead both Greece and Turkey to pursue a policy towards securing peace and prosperity for the respective Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus.  These policies have sometimes led to tension and often served as a stumbling block to the improvement of relations.

            The other three issues concern the extension of the territorial seas, the continental shelf and airspace over the Aegean Sea.  Although Cyprus is very important for both Greece and Turkey, the Aegean Sea has been the issue which nearly led the two neighbours to two wars in the post 1974 period.  Before the events in Cyprus in 1974, most of these problems were not explicitly emphasized between Greece and Turkey.  However, in the post-1974 era they have become a recurring problem in bilateral relations.  The extension of the territorial waters concentrates on the fact that under international law, Greece has the right to extend its territorial waters from six nautical miles to twelve nautical miles, therefore controlling most of the Aegean Sea.  Turkey of course objects to such a move and has threatened Greece over the implementation of such a measure.  The position of both governments will be further explained in chapter 1 with the details of the conventions regarding the territorial waters.

            The continental shelf dispute has also been arduous and is a very complicated matter which has often impeded Greek-Turkish rapprochement.  Greece claims that the jurisdiction of most of the Aegean Sea continental shelf is Greek because so many of its islands are situated in the Aegean Sea.  It therefore concludes that it retains jurisdiction as a matter of security for the Greek islands.  On the other hand, Turkey objects, claiming that Greece is attempting to control all of the Aegean Sea area and further believes that the continental shelf should be controlled more equally since the Aegean continental shelf is a natural extension of the western Turkish mainland (Anatolia).[2]  Attempts to solve this contentious issue have also failed and no agreement has been reached since this problem became more important after 1974.  Attempts to reach a solution through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague have also failed.

            Finally, there is the problem over the Greek airspace, the so called Athens FIR (Flight Information Region).  Greece claims a ten mile airspace which Turkey has failed to recognize.  Under the Athens FIR, Greece controls most of the air traffic over the Aegean Sea region.  As a result, Greece has demands that it should be notified of any military exercises and flights by Turkish aircraft within the Athens FIR.  Since Turkey does not recognize Greece’s claim to airspace jurisdiction, it freely allows its military aircraft (jets) to fly into the Athens FIR without getting clearance from Athens.[3]  This has become a regular daily event with the Greek governments claiming that Turkey is violating Greek airspace and with Turkish governments claiming that they have the right to fly freely in the region.  The Greek airspace violations by Turkey, as the Greek government proclaims, often escalate in number before or after major decisions regarding Greek-Turkish bilateral relations.  Finally, other problems include items such as the demilitarisation of Greek islands close to mainland Turkey which has been imposed by international conventions and other minor issues have appeared many times but have been put aside or forgotten.

            All of the issues mentioned above have played a key role in Greece’s position regarding Turkey’s path towards membership in the European Union.  These issues have been the reason behind the progression or the blocking of Turkey’s EU application from 1987 on.  Greece has used the absence of a resolution of these problems in its reasoning for compiling its policy towards the EU-Turkey relationship.  As this paper will show, the prospect of the resolution of these problems, the changing governments in Greece and Turkey as well as the effectiveness of the positions, has changed Greek attitudes towards the Turkish EU application over the past decade and a half.   



Chapter 1.

Greece’s Early Position on Turkey’s EC (EU) Application: 1987-1995




            Relations between Greece and Turkey were not experiencing their best period at the time of Turkey’s official application for membership in the European Community (EC, now the European Union-EU).  The application was submitted after yet another crisis between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea.  Consequently, from 1987 to 1995, Greece continued a policy towards Turkey’s European prospects similar to the ones it adopted in the 1980s and in previous EC-Turkey related issues.  The policy of the isolationism of Turkey from Europe and the use of the veto to block any advancement of EC-Turkey relations did not aid the ailing Greek-Turkish bilateral relations.  It rather added to the spirit of conflict and tension which escalated in certain periods between 1987 and 1995.  A bright spot in terms of rapprochement in 1988 and an intensification of dialogue in 1990-1991 was short lived and did not have any long lasting results for the future.  The EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement seemed to be a positive step in relations between Greece and Turkey, but did not yet instigate a shift in the Greek policy towards Turkish prospects for joining the European Union (previously European Community).



1.1 The Turkish Application to the EC: Crisis & Rapprochement


            Relations between Greece and Turkey had been intense with a lot of finger pointing and minimal cooperation in the 1980s.  Moreover, in 1987 the two countries reached the brink of war for the first time since the events of Cyprus in 1974.  Considering that both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO, it seemed absurd that two members of the Alliance found it so easy to reach the gates of war despite being part of an organization which in theory was meant to secure peace between its members.  The events of March 1987 added more Greek opposition to Turkey’s official application for membership in the European Community (EC), which immediately followed the tensions in the Aegean Sea.

            The crisis of March 1987 emphasized the disagreement between Greece and Turkey over the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea.  The conflict was the result of not having reached an agreement over the borders and jurisdiction of areas of the Aegean Sea continental shelf. Consequently, when the Turkish government learned that the government of Greece was about to start an oil-exploration mission in the disputed area (outside its territorial jurisdiction)[4], it sent out its own oil exploration vessel.  The move was seen as a threat over Greek territory by the PASOK government and Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.  The Greek Ministry of Defence reacted by sending navy vessels to the area where the Turks were conducting their oil exploration and threatened to retaliate militarily if any oil drilling would occur.[5]  The tensions were very high and Greece and Turkey came very close to armed conflict after several verbal threats and the concentration of military forces in the Aegean Sea.  Fortunately, with the intervention of NATO’s Secretary General, Lord Carrington, a war was avoided and the southern flank of NATO’s military alliance was kept intact.[6]  The attempts by both Greece and Turkey to each reiterate their respective national positions on the issue of the continental shelf led the two neighbours close to the prospect of war, as well as to a further deterioration of bilateral relations.  The event displayed the non-existence of a bilateral dialogue between Papandreou’s government in Greece and Ozal’s government in Turkey.

            Turkey officially submitted its application for membership in the European Community (EC) just a few days after the end of the crisis.  The timing was unfortunate, since strained relations with Greece were not well received by EC members and it was an overwhelming certainty that the application would not get a warm welcome by several countries and especially by Greece.  The Greek government’s position about the official application to the EC was negative.  This coincided with the other Greek positions on any Turkey-EC cooperation, such as the strengthening of Turkey’s Association Agreement with the EC and the further funding assistance towards Turkey.  It was the Greek government’s inherent belief and especially that of Prime Minister Papandreou, that Turkish accession to the European Community would not lead to the resolution of Greek-Turkish bilateral problems.  On the contrary, Papandreou’s government believed that Turkey’s entry to the EC would only bring more problems to the Community and would slow down the European integration project.[7]  Nevertheless, the European Community (through the European Commission), did not consider the merits of Turkey’s application until it was ready to make some conclusions regarding the country’s political and economic standards.

            The situation seemed dismal after the 1987 crisis and the submission of Turkey’s EC application.  Greek Prime Minister Papandreou received criticism at home of being too tough on his stance towards Turkey and not making an effort for a dialogue process.  Turkish Prime Minister Ozal was also criticized for the fact that his actions had nearly led Turkey to war with Greece at a time when Turkey was about to submit its application for accession to the EC.  One of Prime Minister Ozal’s main political goals was to achieve success by having Turkey accede to the European Community.  However, this would have been impossible without Greece’s support, since the Greek national veto in the EC would thwart any possible future Turkish accession to the Community.  Considering the reasons of both political leaders and the fact that there was no other way out of the crisis, the two neighbouring governments decided to restart bilateral contacts.

            In early 1988, Greece and Turkey ordered their respective ambassadors to begin contacts for the instigation of bilateral talks which would eventually lead to the beginning of a rapprochement between the two nations.  Contacts were exchanged and a meeting was scheduled between Papandreou and Ozal at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos Switzerland.[8]  The two prime ministers agreed to meet at the forum to discuss a way to introduce mechanisms in order to prevent the possibility of war between Greece and Turkey, the so called “no war” policy.[9]  In Davos, the two leaders discussed the bilateral problems but reached no solution because as stated, it was premature for solutions at such an early stage of contacts.  The Greek delegation concluded that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, was the only way to solve bilateral disputes (i.e. Aegean and airspace), but the Turkish officials did not agree with this proposal.

            The results of the Davos meeting (referred as to the Davos Process 1988) were the formation of new economic and political measures which would provide cooperation between Greece and Turkey.  The measures were proactive and seen as a good way to ease tensions between the two neighbours.  A “red line” was created, that is an open telephone line between Papandreou and Ozal in order to be able to directly contact each other to avoid any possible future conflict and to prevent reaching the brink of war like in 1987.[10]  Furthermore, two agreements, labelled the Papoulias-Yilmaz Agreements, named after Greek Foreign Minister Papoulias and Turkish Foreign Minister Yilmaz, were signed in May and September 1988.  The May 1988 agreement included the adoption of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) which would avoid military interference, protect national territories and which would provide information on military exercises.[11]  The September 1988 agreement provided further rules for the avoidance of naval and airspace accidents in order to prevent any sort of military confrontation.[12]  Although the agreements seemed like a step in the positive direction, they did not receive the necessary positive approval in Greece and Turkey.  The Greek public was suspicious of any act of Turkish goodwill and the opposition parties in Greece proclaimed their worries about the future of Greek-Turkish relations.[13]

            Despite the rapprochement efforts of the Davos Process, the Greek government and Prime Minister Papandreou did not change their stance towards Turkey’s prospects for joining the European Community.  The Greek government stood firm on its policy that a resolution on the Cyprus problem had to be reached in order for Greece to consider the idea of Turkey joining the EC.  Furthermore, because of the problems in Cyprus, Greece was willing to block any sort of EC funding to Turkey.  Besides, as Prime Minister Papandreou said in the Greek Parliament, Turkey’s accession to the EC was not foreseeable in the near future and would occur beyond the year 2000.[14]  The Greek government lobbied with its EC counterparts to accept the Greek insertion that an improvement in the dialogue over the Cyprus problem with Turkey should be linked with the advancement of Turkey’s EC application.  Although this was unsatisfactory for Turkey, it served as the basis for Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s EC application.  The PASOK government of Papandreou and the governments that followed wanted to use Greek membership in the EC to force Turkey to cooperate on resolving the Cyprus problem as an incentive for the improvement of EC-Turkey decisions.  If no cooperation would come from the Turkish side, then Greece would use its national veto in the EC to block progression of the Turkish application.  By following this policy, Greece believed that sooner or later, a breakthrough would come in the outstanding issues with its neighbour.  Otherwise, it would lead to Turkey’s isolation from Europe, something which no Turkish government envisaged.



1.2 The First European “No” and the New Greek Government’s Policy


            Greek Prime Minister Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Ozal met again in June 1988 and the committees they had formed met several times in 1988 and 1989.  However, by the end of 1989 the Davos Process came to an end.  Papandreou was facing political problems in Greece with his involvement in a scandal and his health was also failing.  Ozal on the other hand was elected President of Turkey and he was also facing domestic challenges.  Consequently, by the autumn of 1989, the Davos Process and the rapprochement efforts came to an end, with few solid results and no substantial progress on any of the major bilateral issues.  Besides, the process had faced negative criticism by opposition parties in both Greece and Turkey.  In the months before the release of the European Commission’s report on the Turkish application to the European Community (EC), Turkish officials pleaded with Greece not to use its position within the EC to block Turkish aspirations for joining the Community.  The absence of the Greek hurdle, would according to Turkey, help normalise Greek-Turkish relations.[15]  However, Greece did not have to intervene in order to block Turkey’s application at this moment in time.

            On December 20, 1989, the European Commission decided to issue its opinion in a report regarding Turkey’s application to the European Community (EC).  The Commission had spent two years studying the economic, political and overall national situation in Turkey before it released its opinion.  In the report, the European Commission stated that Turkey was not ready to start accession negotiations because it did not fulfil the Community’s economic and political requirements and many adjustments had to be made before any negotiations could commence.[16]  Furthermore, the Commission believed that the Community was not yet ready to cope with the economic, social and political problems which Turkish membership would bring and outlined the problems in its report.  The report was released at a time when Greece was going through an extended election period and Turkey had just sworn in a new president.[17]  This added another element to the halt of the rapprochement process between Greece and Turkey.  No Greek veto was necessary to stop Turkish progress in the EC, since the Commission announced that it was far too early to advance the application.  Nevertheless, Turkey felt that it was being isolated from Europe and it predicted Greece’s negative role in the future.[18]  Perhaps the climate in late 1989 and the end of the Davos Process led to a sense of distrust between Greece and Turkey after a short period of rapprochement.

            New Democracy (conservatives) finally won the majority in the April 1990 elections and returned to power in Greece for the first time since 1981.  The elongated electoral campaign stalled Greek-Turkish relations and as a result, there was a status quo from late 1989 until the spring of 1990.  New Democracy was able to oust Papandreou’s PASOK (socialist) party, but only gained a minor seat majority in the Greek parliament.  The new Prime Minister, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, promised to end the hard line stance towards Turkey, taken by his predecessor, Andreas Papandreou.  The news was well received by now Turkish President Ozal, who had maintained friendly relations with Mitsotakis in the 1980s while Ozal was Prime Minister of Turkey.[19]  Furthermore, Prime Minister Mitsotakis was keen on using the available resources to improve Greek-Turkish relations but also make Greece’s role in Europe more assertive and gain support for the foreign policy he would implement.

            Soon after the electoral win of 1990, the new Greek government began the process to restart the bilateral dialogue with Turkey and to work towards a resolution to the Cyprus problem.  However, the government in Turkey, headed by Prime Minister Abkulut was weak and Mitsotakis worried what the response would be from the Turkish side.[20]  The new Greek government was willing to better use its position in the European Community, as it knew that Turkey would need its support to gain an agreement in the Turkey-EC Customs Union, something which had been envisaged to come into force by 1995, as mentioned in the EC-Turkey Association Agreement.  Therefore, from 1990 to 1991, Greece pushed strongly for a dialogue with Turkey on bilateral issues and for a continuation of the rapprochement that had halted in 1989 after the Davos Process ended.  The Greek government believed that the EC incentive would lead to concessions by Turkey and to a possible resolution on Cyprus and other issues of disagreement.  However, the unstable political situation in Turkey made it difficult for the Greek officials involved in this process.  The Turkish government wanted cooperation on Turkey’s EC application before considering the dialogue with Greece. 

            The Greek government’s policy of using the EC as a pressure tool to bring Turkey back to the negotiating table over the Cyprus issue was immediately implemented.  In the June 25-26, 1990 European Council meeting, the members of the European Community agreed that the “Cyprus problem affects EC-Turkey relations.”[21]  This was a success for the new Greek government as it implemented its policy of using the EC tool better than the previous government.  This was the first time that the European Community mentioned the obstacle of the Cyprus problem and other bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey as an obstacle for EC-Turkey relations.  Of course, this was not appreciated by the Turkish government as it saw that Greece was willing to isolate Turkey from Europe if it did not change its position on the outstanding issues that were problematic in Greek-Turkish relations.  Greece knew that it would be difficult to gain cooperation and results from Turkey immediately and therefore began to consider the implementation of blocking any kind of EC-Turkey relationship advancement if its demands were not met.

            Besides the EC tool, Greece wanted to really push the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem.  In 1990, Cyprus submitted its own application for membership in the European Community and Greece wanted to instigate a new round of talks for a permanent solution to the island’s problem.  However, it also commented that the Cyprus problem should not become an obstacle in the island’s future accession to the EC, something which all subsequent Greek governments adopted as part of their foreign policy.  In the summer of 1990, a series of high level meetings between Greek and Turkish government officials began for the first time since the failure of the Davos Process.[22]  The officials discussed the possible resolutions for Cyprus and took into consideration reports released by the United Nations, the central player in the resolution of the Cyprus problem.  The Turkish government realized that it had to make some sort of effort in order to limit the amount of Greek opposition to its EC application.  However, the efforts were facing fierce opposition from the Turkish Cypriot community, vis-à-vis its President, Rauf Denktash, who was not willing to make any concessions but rather advocated the international recognition of an independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.[23]  Consequently, the talks moved with a very slow pace and with great difficulty.

            Greece was successful in pressuring Turkey to cooperate on the Cyprus problem by involving the United Nations and receiving positive support from the United States and many European countries. In early 1991, it tried to convince the European Community to play a more proactive role in pushing United Nations initiatives on the negotiating table.  In this perspective, Turkey would really be pressured to comply because of international pressure.  Furthermore, in 1991 Greece vetoed any further funding assistance by the European Community towards Turkey.  This was done to once again prove that the Greek government was serious about using the Cyprus problem as a stumbling block to Turkey’s EC aspirations.[24]  However, the Persian Gulf War in Iraq diverted Turkey’s attention from the Cyprus problem and the efforts slowed down in the subsequent months.

            After the end of the Persian Gulf War, Turkey emerged with a new sense of strength and self-perception.  This was seen as a negative sign for Greece as it was understood that Turkey would be less cooperative on bilateral issues and on the Cyprus problem.  This was confirmed by provocative statements, such as that of Turkish President Ozal, who claimed that the Dodecanese Islands, which are very close to the south-western Turkish mainland, should had never been conceded by Italy to Greece after World War II.[25]  This statement was played down by the Greek government, but it still proved the point that Turkish provocations would become a difficulty in reaching any sort of concessions in bilateral negotiations.  The bilateral negotiations and contacts over Cyprus and the Aegean Sea continental shelf continued throughout the summer of 1991.

            The climax of the bilateral dialogue that had been instigated by the Greek government in 1990 came in Paris in September of 1991.  Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis met with Turkish Prime Minister Yilmaz to discuss all outstanding Greek-Turkish issues.  The Greek government hoped that it would be able to reach a consensus on the items of disagreement.  A possible resolution on Cyprus could have cleared the way for Turkey’s EC application, at least in terms of the Greek veto.  Unfortunately, at the September meeting, Greece and Turkey were not able to make any ground on the disagreements which separated the two sides on the sensitive political issues, such as the Aegean Sea continental shelf.  Furthermore, previous signs of Turkish concessions towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem were not confirmed and thus the one year effort of solving the long-lasting issue separating the two communities on the island came to a halt.  Prime Minister Mitsotakis and the Greek government left Paris with disappointment over the results.  It seemed that another round of rapprochement and dialogue had come to an end with no advancement on the issues vital to Greece’s foreign policy.

            The year ended with no substantial progress on the Cyprus problem or any other Greek-Turkish issues.  Prime Minister Mitsotakis had reiterated after his meeting with Prime Minister Yilmaz that:

“Greece will under no circumstance change its policy and will block any Turkish attempt to join Europe as long as the Cyprus issue is still open.  This is a clear Greek position which the Turkish government knows very well.”[26]


It became clear after the Paris meeting that there would be great difficulty on reaching a solution for Cyprus.  That would in effect mean the enforcement of Greece’s policy to block any EC-Turkey relations. After the Paris meeting, Suleyman Demirel replaced Mesut Yilmaz as Prime Minister of Turkey.  After early contacts with the Greek government, a meeting was set up for the Greek and Turkish prime ministers to meet in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum (the so called Davos II meeting).

            The meeting in Davos took place on February 1, 1992 in the midst of a year that brought many changes in Europe.  The disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Balkan problems put much strain on international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Community tried to take some sort of common approach to the new situation in Europe.  Nevertheless, the Greek government was not ready to give up its efforts on the problematic issues with Turkey.  Despite once again receiving negative press from the leftist parties in Greece, Prime Minister Mitsotakis headed to Davos to make one last solid attempt to gain concessions from Turkey for all outstanding matters. 

The Greek Prime Minister outlined his goals prior to leaving for Switzerland and proclaimed that he would not back down on any of Greece’s demands.  Furthermore, he would keep the Cyprus problem related to the EC-Turkey relations as an incentive for Turkey to back down from its rigid stance on the problem.[27]  However, to large Greek disappointment, the Davos meeting did not yield any serious solutions nor did talks proceed beyond the agreement to respect of international treaties and agreements.  Turkish Prime Minister Demirel was not willing to further negotiations on Cyprus or any other matter and the talks ended with no surprising results.  By the end of February 1992, it seemed that the Greek government was giving up its hopes of reaching any solution on Greek-Turkish bilateral problems and the two year intense effort came to an end.  The Greek government had to turn its attention away from Turkey and to other domestic and international problems which became the prevalent issue at the time.[28]



1.3 The Western European Union (WEU) and the Casus Belli


            The Greek government was also involved in procedures to provide a more secure future for the country in the midst of the bilateral meetings with Turkey in 1991 and 1992.  The Western European Union (WEU) was created in 1954 (from the original idea of the 1948 Brussels Treaty) and had as members the six original members of the European Community plus the UK.  Its goal was to provide a common European defence but being itself a difficult concept, the WEU institution was often marginalized in the years after its creation.  Nevertheless, with the European Community’s initiative to continue integration and with the discussions in the new Maastricht Treaty for European defence, the WEU became an important issue for Europe once again.  Not willing to be excluded from the project, Greece applied for membership in February 1987.[29]  Considering that in 1987, a war had almost started with Turkey in the Aegean, Greece pushed its application with its European counterparts in the 1990s.  This move would bring Greece more involvement in European institutions, something which it believed it could use as leverage against Turkey in the bilateral problems.  Moreover, it was believed by Greek officials that membership would include the right to use Article V (5) of the Treaty of Brussels.  The article proclaimed that if a member of the WEU was attacked, then all other members should provide assistance to the member state which was attacked.[30]  Consequently, the Greek government believed that the treaty would secure Greece from any potential military attack by Turkey.  A possible accession of Greece to the WEU would signal further Turkish isolation in Europe and Greece believed that along with its EC membership it would convince Turkey to make more concessions on the negotiating table.

            At the discussions over the Maastricht Treaty of the European Community in 1991, it was decided that the Western European Union (WEU) would be absorbed by the European Community (and later the European Union).  The EC considered the fact that a possible Greek membership could mean that Greece could invoke Article V of the Treaty of Brussels.  As a result, the European Community decided to include a clause in the treaty which would not allow Article V to be invoked by members of the WEU against other WEU members or NATO members.[31]  Although Greece was admitted to the WEU, it lost much interest in the project since Article V limited the use of the Brussels Treaty as a security cushion against Turkey, Greece’s reason for wanting to become a WEU member.  The WEU was eventually absorbed by the European Union (the EC’s name after the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty) and became part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).  In later years, the descendent of the WEU, the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy), would return to haunt Greek-Turkish relations and tensions.

            The end of the Greek-Turkish bilateral dialogue in 1992 and the problem over the name issue with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) severely weakened the government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis in Greece.  The resignation of Foreign Minister Antonios Samaras and his departure from the New Democracy party along with other party members of parliament (MPs) led to early elections in Greece in October 1993.  The PASOK (socialists) won the election and Andreas Papandreou returned to the role of Prime Minister of Greece.  This signalled the end of the rapprochement attempts with Turkey and the slowing down of the dialogue.  Papandreou was known for his tougher stance towards Turkey compared to Mitsotakis.  Furthermore, in 1993 the European Union accepted Cyprus’ application for membership in the Union, something which angered both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots because the application had been submitted on behalf of the whole island by the Greek-Cypriot administration.  This event made negotiations on the resolution on the Cyprus problem and other outstanding issues very difficult.  Additionally, Greece continued to use its vetoes in the EC/EU for funding (i.e. the 4th Financial Protocol) towards Turkey, which added further strains to the relations.

            With Papandreou back in leadership in Greece, the improvement of EU-Turkey relations seemed bleak.  Furthermore, Papandreou was willing to use the Greek veto in the European Council to block the EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement which was scheduled to come in effect in 1995.  In 1994, an act taken by Greece through the Greek Parliament instigated the return to tense relations with Turkey.  This time, the disagreement came in the extension of the territorial water limits in the Aegean Sea, interrelated to the Aegean Sea continental shelf dispute.  The original United Nations Law of the Sea provided countries with an extension of territorial seas of up to six nautical miles.  However, in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the limit was set up to 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a state’s territory.[32]  The Convention cleared the way for Greece to extend its territorial waters from six to twelve nautical miles, something which was not approved by Turkey because in effect, it would mean that Greece would control most of the shipping traffic in the Aegean Sea and would make it more difficult for Turkish ships to navigate freely.  Consequently, Turkey did not sign the Convention Law in 1982, but Greece did.

            By 1994, Greece had not proceeded to the extension of the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea despite having the option to do so under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.  However, in an attempt to protect Greek interests and security in the Aegean Sea for the thousands of Greek islands, the government pushed for ratification of the Convention in the Greek Parliament.  This would clear the way for the government to extend the nation’s territorial waters when it wished to do so.  On June 1, 1994, the Greek Parliament ratified the Convention despite previous statements by Turkey towards Greece to not proceed with this measure.  In a response to the ratification by the Greek Parliament, the Turkish Grand National Assembly adopted a resolution which allowed the Turkish government to take all steps necessary, including military action, in order to protect Turkish interests in the Aegean Sea.[33]  This was termed as the casus belli for Turkey, as any move by Greece in effectively extending its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea could be used as justification by Turkey for a military response.  The casus belli added a lot of new tension to Greek-Turkish relations and gave further reasons for the Greek government to block the furthering of EU-Turkey relations.  In its perspective, Greece believed that Turkey’s casus belli proved that EU-Turkey relations could not be improved since Turkey was returning to a period of threats rather than negotiation on the bilateral problems that the two countries shared.



1.4 The EU-Turkey Customs Union Agreement


            After the events of the summer of 1994, a new tense situation was evident between Greece and Turkey which strained bilateral relations and consequently meant further isolationism for Turkey from its EU aspirations.  In 1993 and 1994, Greece had vetoed the progress of reaching an agreement on the EU-Turkey Customs Union in retaliation to Turkey’s inability to negotiate on Cyprus and the other bilateral problems with Greece.  However, in 1994/1995, the European Union was preparing for a new round of enlargement, this time adding Austria, Sweden and Finland as new members of the Union.  The Greek government, knowing that the EU had already accepted Cyprus’ application for membership, wanted to secure a date for the beginning of accession negotiations for the island.  Since no solution had been reached over the Cyprus problem, Greece saw this move as necessary to bring Cyprus closer to the EU.  This move further angered Turkey, who found it unacceptable for the EU to consider negotiating with Cyprus without prior reaching a permanent resolution over the island’s problem.  Therefore in 1995, Greece had two goals in its foreign policy.  The first was to proceed with Cyprus’ application for EU membership and the second was to block the EU-Customs Union from coming in effect in 1995/1996.

            As negotiations continued between the European Union and Turkey over the contents of the Customs Union, Greece continued to block its advancement in the European Council using its national veto.  Concurrently, Greece pushed the idea of proceeding with a date for accession negotiations for Cyprus with its counterparts in the European Council.  However, the heads of state of several countries did not view this as positive development because they did not want to negotiate EU membership terms without first resolving the problem in Cyprus.  Difficult negotiations took place in the European Council meetings and in other EU-Greece official meetings over removing the blocking point in the EU-Turkey Customs Union.  Finally, on March 6, 1995, Greece decided to lift its veto towards the EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement.[34]  The Greek government took this decision in exchange for agreement on one of its major foreign policy goals.  The European Union (Council and Commission) agreed that in exchange for the removal of the Greek veto on the Customs Union, accession negotiations between the EU and Cyprus would begin in March 1998.[35]  This mutual exchange between Greece and the EU secured the Greek government’s goal to have Cyprus included in the next round of enlargement accession negotiations.

            The Greek government felt that the lifting of its veto on the EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement would improve the strained relations with Turkey after the events of 1994.  Additionally, the Greek government believed that Turkey would view the lifting of its veto as an act of goodwill and perhaps would reciprocate this decision by returning to the negotiating table to discuss bilateral issues.  Perhaps this view was too optimistic because Turkey did not appreciate the exchange Greece had made to begin Cyprus’ EU accession negotiations (EU would negotiate with the Greek-Cypriot administration only).  Nevertheless, Greek officials believed that better days were about come in its relations with Turkey because the Customs Union agreement would be warmly welcomed in Turkey and would divert attention from further raising tensions in the Aegean Sea.





            Greece’s position on Turkey’s future in the European Community (European Union) in the late 1980s and early 1990s was based on the idea that the process of Turkey’s accession was a matter that would be discussed at a later time, beyond the year 2000.  Therefore, although Greece officially said that it did not want to block Turkey’s European aspirations, it used its EC membership to pressure Turkey into reaching agreements over Cyprus and the other bilateral problems.  From 1987 to 1995, Greece used all the possible vetoes it had in the European Council to block funding and assistance to Turkey and until 1995, to block Turkey’s EU Customs Union.  The Greek government’s belief that by using its veto as an incentive for agreement on Cyprus ultimately failed because by 1995, very little solid progress had been made on resolving the thirty year old problem. 

Additionally, the two periods of rapprochement or détente, in 1988-1989 and 1990-1992 were short lived and did not help change Greece’s position toward the Turkey/Europe relationship because both periods were instigated by personal figures and did not receive much public support in either Turkey or Greece.  Finally, the attempts by Greece to provide more security for itself against Turkey, firstly through the Western European Union and secondly by the extension of the territorial waters in the Aegean, only resulted in more tension-building with its neighbour.  By the end of 1995, arguments were once again being raised over the issues in the Aegean Sea, putting an end in the Greek government’s hope that the Customs Union would improve Greek-Turkish relations.  A new period of crisis was about to dawn which would prove to Greek politicians that the position which Greece had adopted towards Turkey’s EU future was perhaps not as effective as they had thought.



Chapter 2.

Period of Crisis 1996 – 1999




            Greece expected its relations with Turkey to improve after the lifting of its veto in the EU-Turkey Customs Union.  Furthermore, the retirement of Andreas Papandreou from the position of Prime Minister in Greece in 1996 complemented the spirit of change for the ailing Greek-Turkish relations.  The new prime minister and president of PASOK, Kostas Simitis, promised to introduce a new approach to Greece’s foreign policy towards Turkey.  A reforming socialist, Simitis decided to drop much of Papandreou’s hard-line socialist ideas, including those towards Turkey.  He presented his ideas for the “Europeanization” of many of Greece’s policies, including foreign policy and economics.  However, the new socialist government of Prime Minister Simitis was tested early on in its relations with Turkey by the crisis over the Imia (Kardak) islets in 1996 and later on with the Cyprus missile problem and the Öcalan Affair.  It seemed as though the three year period of crisis had provided overwhelming reasons for Greece to continue its policy of blocking the advancement of EU-Turkey relations. By February 1999, Greek-Turkish relations had reached a decade long low point and the situation seemed dismal for Turkey’s EU application.   



2.1  1996 Imia (Kardak) Crisis


On January 18, 1996 socialist (PASOK) Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou resigned from his position as a result of ailing health problems.  Kostas Simitis was then appointed prime minister after PASOK held internal party elections and he took office on January 22, 1996.  Simitis was generally considered to be a more modern socialist than his predecessor and had a political agenda that included the “Europeanization”[36] of Greece’s foreign policy which would meet the standards of the European Union.  His eventual success in realizing his vision for rapprochement with Turkey has been characterized as the “great realignment” of Greece’s relations with Turkey.[37]  However, when Simitis took over in 1996 he was immediately faced with one of the most challenging events of the 1990s in the country’s relations with Turkey.  The events that took place in January of 1996 served as a stumbling block for the rapprochement ideas and nearly led to war with Turkey.  It seemed as if these events would only strengthen the arguments of those who opposed Turkey’s recognition as a candidate state for EU accession.

            The Imia Crisis took place despite a show of goodwill by Greece towards Turkey in the previous months.  In March 1995, Greece lifted its veto towards the customs union between Turkey and the European Union in exchange for the start of accession negotiations for Cyprus.  Contrary to the Greek government’s expectations, Turkey did not appreciate the exchange which Greece had made to clear the way for the EU-Turkey Customs Union. Turkey, under the leadership of Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, began to dispute the Greek government’s willingness to expand its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea islands.  In December 1995 and leading to January 1996, Turkey officially disputed the sovereignty of the Imia (Kardak) islets off the coast of Turkey, (see maps of the area in Appendix 1) claiming that they did not belong to Greece but were “grey areas” in the Aegean Sea[38].  It was the first time that Turkey questioned the sovereignty of islets in the Dodecanese islands because as it claimed, previous agreements were not ratified by the Turkish National Assembly and was “not registered with the Secretariat of the League of Nations”[39].  This statement eventually led Turkish Prime Minister Çiller and Foreign Affairs Minister Gonensay to claim that between 1.000 and 3.000 islets and rocks in the Aegean could not be recognized as being Greek and therefore could also be characterized as “grey areas”.

            On January 28, 1996, six days into the Simitis premiership, the Imia (Kardak) Crisis reached its peak.  After the mayor of nearby Kalymnos island raised a Greek flag on one of the Imia islets, Turkish journalists responded by removing it and raising a Turkish flag in its place.  The Greeks responded by hoisting the Greek flag again and thus marked the beginning of an escalated crisis.  Turkish and Greek naval forces were immediately sent to the area and the scenes which were viewed on television both in Greece and Turkey aroused support for a military confrontation between the two countries.  Simitis was not in favour of further provoking the Turks and decided to move towards a de-escalation of the crisis.  At the same time the United States stepped in and convinced both sides to withdraw all military forces from the area.  The US wanted to avoid a military confrontation between two NATO members at all costs.  On January 31, 1996, Greece and Turkey agreed to remove all military personnel from the area and refrain from any military action. Thus a potential disaster to Greek-Turkish relations was avoided.

            The European Union also denounced the events in Imia through a text adopted in the European Parliament.  On February 15, 1999 the parliament adopted a text by majority, warning Turkey to abstain from similar incidents against Greece, a member of the EU.  The text reiterated that the Imia islets are part of Greece and therefore part of the European Union’s external borders.  The text also mentioned that the parliament was “gravely concerned” by Turkey’s violation and infringement upon Greece’s sovereignty[40].  The acknowledgement by the European Parliament of the events that took place in Imia and the statement that the islets belonged to Greece put more pressure on Turkey and also portrayed Greece’s influence within the EU, something which Turkey was worried about in the path towards the Luxembourg Summit.  The Greek government had once again succeeded in involving an institution of the European Union in its relations with Turkey.

            Following the Imia Crisis both Greek and Turkish governments decided to refrain from similar actions which nearly led to a full scale confrontation in the Aegean.  The Greek government asserted that any territorial claims should be brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  The Turkish government at first did not respond, but on June 9, 1996 Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz (who replaced Çiller after the Imia crisis) agreed that all “grey areas” should be brought forth to the ICJ[41].  Although the Greek government supported the resolution of bilateral problems through the ICJ, it did not agree with the “grey areas” because they questioned the sovereignty of Greek islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. 

            It was clearly evident in late 1996 and early 1997 that the Imia Crisis would affect Turkey’s path towards the European Union.  The 1995 Customs Union agreement served as a precedent for the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey.  However, by March 1996, it was widely accepted that the political confrontation over Imia could have negative effects on the upcoming European Councils which would consider the fate of Turkey’s application for membership in the European Union.  The government of Kostas Simitis reasserted its position that it was “the Greek wish for Turkey to be a part of European integration rather than excluded from it”.[42]  Consequently, it was clear to see that the Greek government did not want its vision for rapprochement with Turkey to be hampered by confrontations and verbal arguments with Turkey, such as the Imia Crisis.  The rest of 1996 ensued with few developments but with the tensions still high from the events which marked the early months of 1996.



2.2  The Cyprus Missile Problem, the Madrid Declaration and the 1997 Luxembourg Summit


2.2.1 The Cyprus Missile Crisis


            The Cyprus Missile Crisis, which became the new problem in Greek-Turkish relations in 1997, played an important role in the decisions taken by the Greek government in the path towards the Luxembourg European Council Summit of December 1997.  Despite experiencing a period of relative calmness after the events of Imia in 1996, the Greek and Turkish governments restarted their bickering, this time over the important island of Cyprus.  This new crisis followed the Imia crisis after a relatively short period of time and increased the tensions between Greece and Turkey.  The Greek government’s wish to eventually restart rapprochement efforts with its neighbour were made more difficult with the new situation.  Additionally, the crisis further discredited Turkey in many member states of the European Union, who did not approve of Turkey’s disagreements with Greece.

            Fears of airspace defence superiority by Turkey over Cyprus led the government of the Republic of Cyprus (the Greek-Cypriot administration) to pursue more effective ways of securing the island’s security.  In January 1997, the Cypriot government signed a deal with a Russian firm for the order of S-300PMU-1 missiles to be installed within the area controlled by the Greek Cypriots.  The order of the missiles also received backing from the Greek government, which was weary of Turkish threats and wanted to provide more security for Cyprus as it prepared to join the European Union.[43]  Immediately upon the announcement of the missile order, the Turkish government, through President Demirel and Prime Minister Erbakan began a verbal counteroffensive emphasizing the point that such actions would destabilize the security of the region and only stir a military response by Turkey.  Initially, the Greek Ministry of Defence replied with its own warning over Turkish military threats.  However, Prime Minister Simitis intervened in the days that followed, once again emphasizing the need for a calm approach in the relations with Turkey.[44] Nevertheless, the statements added further tensions in Greek-Turkish relations, emphasizing the disagreements over Cyprus and other sensitive bilateral issues.

            In the months that followed, the Cypriot government continued to claim that it would go ahead with the installation of the S-300 missiles in Cyprus.  The Russian government confirmed the order and the reports that they would be installed in Cyprus.  Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriots called out for the help of Turkey because they feared that this would cause major instability in the island.  The UN and the United States tried to mediate between the four sides in order to avoid the installation of the missiles but all talks consequently failed.  Despite verbal warnings by the US and the UK, the Turkish government did not back down from its tough stance on the matter.[45] On the contrary, it continued its policy without carefully considering the repercussions it could have on its EU-membership application

            By September 1997, three months before the Luxembourg Summit, provocations and threats between Greece and Turkey had reached their peak.  Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash dismissed all talks with the Greek Cypriot government and even suggested war if the EU allowed Cyprus to become a full member.  The Greek government, seeking to avoid more provocations in the path towards the Luxembourg Summit, decided not to let such statements bear much effect on its policy.  By that time, Greece was seeking to once again stabilize its relations with Turkey and prove that it supported its neighbour’s path towards European integration.  For a moment, the Cyprus missile problem was put off to the side, while Greece and Turkey turned their attention towards the European Council Summit.

            The Luxembourg Summit unfortunately played a negative effect on the Cyprus Missile Crisis.  The EU’s decision not to include Turkey on the list of candidate countries and to proceed with Cyprus’ application had a substantial toll on the missile problem.[46]  In January 1998, Cyprus and Russia re-emphasized that the order and installation of the missiles would go on as scheduled.  In the months that followed, third countries, such the US, Italy, the UK and others tried to start a dialogue between Greece, Turkey, the Turkish-Cypriots and the Greek-Cypriots in order to avert the increasing pressure that was building in Cyprus.  These attempts ultimately failed and the threats over a military conflict continued to be hinted by the foreign ministers of both Greece and Turkey. 

            Finally in December 1998, the government of the Republic of Cyprus announced that its order for the Russian S-300PMU-1 missiles would be installed on the island of Crete in order to avoid any more problems in the region.  This came as a result of the overwhelming importance put by Turkey on the effect that the installation of the missiles would have on Greek-Turkish and Greek-Cypriot-Turkish relations.  The Greek-Cypriot administration realized that Turkey was serious about its war threats and its statement that it would possibly go ahead with the annexation of northern Cyprus (controlled by the Turkish Cypriots).[47]  Greece supported the decisions of the Greek-Cypriot government, adopting the view that a de-escalation of the tension could provide a basis for the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.  However, the Greek government was worried by Turkey’s opposition to Cyprus’ possible EU accession and the Turkish government’s ideas to further integrate the Turkish-Cypriot controlled area to the mainland Turkish Republic.


2.2.2 The NATO Summit & 1997 Luxembourg European Council Summit


Despite the ongoing Cyprus missile problem, Greece and Turkey did make some attempts to solve bilateral issues in 1997, thanks to the help offered by third parties who wanted to aid in the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations. Furthermore, the year also witnessed the attempt by the Greek government to introduce a policy which would show more visible support for Turkey’s EU application.  Although the Imia crisis of the previous year had made that very difficult, it was Greek Prime Minister Simitis’ goal to alter Greece’s position towards Turkey’s EU prospects by adopting a more flexible approach than his predecessor, Andreas Papandreou. 

In January 1997, the Netherlands took over the rotating presidency of the European Union.  In agreement with the United States, who had intervened in the Imia Crisis the year before, the Dutch EU Presidency proposed the formation of a “committee of experts” to study the problems which thwarted Greek-Turkish relations and to draft possible solutions for these problems[48].  This was an idea agreed upon by all EU members in order to provide a spirit of cooperation among Greece and Turkey but also to show the importance of easing Greek-Turkish tensions before the Luxembourg European Council of December 1997.  Although Greek Prime Minister Simitis fully supported the idea of involving third parties in its relations with Turkey, his foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos did no give his full approval and questioned the involvement of the US and NATO.

            Besides the European Union, other international players also tried to soothe the ailing Greek-Turkish relations.  Following the EU’s proposal to solve bilateral problems between Greece and Turkey, the United States decided to also take a more proactive role in the issue.  The United States was also acting in its own interest because it has always been a proponent of Turkish membership in the European Union.  It therefore wanted to see a resolution of Greek-Turkish issues, which at the time stood as an obstacle in the advancement of Turkey’s application to the EU.  Consequently, US President Bill Clinton assigned the task to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  She would mediate talks between Greek Prime Minister Simitis and Turkish President Demirel at the NATO Madrid Summit in July 1997[49].  The talks were hailed a success as more signs of a return to dialogue between the two sides appeared to emerge after the end of the NATO Summit.  Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos suggested that the Imia problem as well as other territorial shelf questions by Turkey should be resolved in the International Court of Justice.[50]  Turkey did not fully agree with this suggestion, but rather hinted towards more of a dialogue between the two countries in order to solve outstanding issues.

            The results of the NATO Madrid Summit were positive for both Greece and Turkey in the period after the Imia crisis.  The Greek government wanted begin to shift its policy towards providing a more supportive stance on Turkey’s EU prospects and Turkey was willing to ease tensions with Greece in order to repair its tainted image in the EU which resulted after the Imia crisis.  However, both governments’ goals were difficult at a time when the Cyprus missile problem was emerging as a new crisis in Greek-Turkish relations.  Nevertheless, Greece and Turkey agreed in Madrid in 1997 to abstain from using military action against each other and to respect the national rights of both nations.  Furthermore, both governments agreed to increase the involvement of NATO’s role in improving bilateral relations, since both countries are members of the alliance, and tensions between them hurt not only themselves but also the strength of the alliance in its southern periphery.  All of these points were included in the Madrid Declaration of 1997, which also was meant to establish a “hot line”, a direct line between the prime ministers of both countries, which would in effect prevent the possibility of a military conflict.[51]  The declaration seemed similar to previous agreements which had not been implemented.  However, it was believed that this declaration would be more substantial with Turkey’s wish to join the EU and Greece’s willingness to ease tension

            Turkey was determined to be recognized as an EU candidate state by December 1997.  It knew that in order to achieve this, it had to rely on the removal of Greece’s veto in the European Council and the goodwill of the Greek prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.  However, there was a new escalating crisis that was developing in Cyprus over the delivery of Russian S-300PMU-1 missiles to the Greek Cypriot government.  The events that occurred in Cyprus in 1997 reaffirmed the problems between Greece and Turkey and served as a negative stigma on the upcoming Luxembourg Summit.  Nevertheless, Prime Minister Simitis declared that he was determined that the crisis in Cyprus would not alter Greece’s position to aid Turkey move along the path towards European integration.

            One major problem that occurred in the weeks leading up to the Luxembourg Summit was that of a formulating idea of the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU, the European Conference.  This conference would occur sometime in the months following the Luxembourg Summit and would include the EU’s 15 members, the 10 candidate states and Turkey.  The Greek government remained uncertain about this idea from the onset.  Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos declared that in order for Turkey to participate in the European Conference, it should, like all other participating countries, adopt the principles of democracy, respect human rights, and show clear progress in the attempt to resolve regional problems (i.e. with Greece through the International Court of Justice).[52]  The statement by Greece’s foreign minister hinted the position which the Greek government would adopt at the Luxembourg European Council Summit.  Greece believed that Turkey should eventually become a member of the EU, but first it would have to fulfil the criteria and respect the rights of the members (i.e. Greece).

            The Greek government knew well that it had to approach the Luxembourg Summit with very careful steps and decisions in order not to further aggravate its relations with Turkey.  On one hand, it had to demonstrate that it clearly believed in Turkey’s prospects within the European Union in the future.  On the other hand, it had to keep a strong stance on resolving outstanding issues with Turkey in Cyprus and the Aegean in compliance with its national interests[53].  By bringing up the issue of human rights and the principles of democracy, Greece was able to get the support of other EU member states in declaring that Turkey could not be optimally “ready” to be a candidate until it fulfilled certain criteria (i.e. the Copenhagen Criteria).  Furthermore, Greece and the EU made it clear that religion would not play a factor in deciding the candidacy status of Turkey.  The EU Presidency, following Greece’s proposal, declared that it was not a “Christian Club” and religion did not and should not play a mitigating factor in considering a country’s candidacy, such as Turkey (overwhelmingly Muslim state).[54]  Both Greek Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Pangalos understood they had to take a position that would not portray Greece as the stumbling block to Turkey’s EU application.

            The Luxembourg European Council Summit took place in December 12-13, 1997.  The European Council was preoccupied with the enlargement process and the opening up of accession negotiations with the remaining candidate states.  Turkey attended the summit hoping to earn the much sought after candidate state status.  Cyprus was also present at the summit, expecting to be officially informed of the date for the commencement of its accession negotiations with the EU.  After tense meetings and discussions over the issue of the Turkish application, the EU leaders decided to postpone the approval of Turkey as an EU candidate state.  The result was agreed upon by most EU member states and was not the result of a sole Greek veto like in previous cases of blocking EU-Turkey relations.

  The end of the European Council Summit of December 1997 confirmed Turkey’s exclusion from the next round of enlargement and its failure to gain candidate member status.  The European Union “confirmed Turkey’s eligibility for accession to the European Union”.[55]  However, the EU also decided that Turkey was not ready to become a candidate country because it did not fulfil the Copenhagen Criteria, such as full application of the principles of democracy and the respect of human rights.  Furthermore, the European Union was not satisfied by Turkey’s political and economic reforms, but did however invite Turkey to the European Conference, despite Greece’s initial disapproval.[56] This meant that the EU could not consider Turkey as a candidate until it felt that substantial progress had been made on those issues. 

The Greek delegation left the Luxembourg European Council Summit fairly satisfied with the results.  It welcomed the EU’s decision to formally open accession negotiations with Cyprus, something which Greece had pushed for in the previous year in order to provide a secure future for the island.[57]  Furthermore, the Greek government felt satisfied with the position it took towards Turkey’s EU application.  That is the idea that it would fully support Turkey’s accession once it could fulfil the criteria and take a more proactive approach to solving bilateral issues with Greece.  The denial of Turkey’s recognition as a candidate state left the Turkish government with a sense of bitterness and eager to restart its “threats and ultimatums” towards Greece.[58]  The Turkish government blamed Greece for not fully supporting its candidacy and for pushing for the accession of Cyprus to the EU in order to diplomatically overpower Turkey.  Consequently, the Turkish government decided to boycott the European Conference of the EU member and candidate states plus Turkey and to threaten to annex northern Cyprus to the Turkish mainland if the EU continued the process of Cyprus’ accession to the Union.[59]  The result was problematic for EU-Turkey relations and the Turkish government pondered whether it was still beneficial to pursue EU membership.

            Greek-Turkish relations suffered in the aftermath of the Luxembourg Summit through the missile crisis in Cyprus.  Despite the threats and arguments over the crisis in Cyprus, the socialist Greek government was still open to dialogue with its Turkish counterparts.  In 1998, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem attempted to open up a new series of dialogue through cooperation with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.  Both men knew well that this would be a good attempt in the eyes of the EU counterparts, especially after the Turkish disappointment over the outcome of the Luxembourg Summit.  As previously mentioned, the Greek government favoured settling all territorial claims and arguments with Turkey at the International Court of Justice.  On the contrary, the Turkish government favoured a bilateral dialogue to settle outstanding issues because it did not recognize the full jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice over the Aegean Sea issues.  Turkish Foreign Minister Cem therefore came up with a series of proposals to solve bilateral problems with Greece.  As Ekavi Athanassopoulou suggests, this was perhaps because in times of crisis, countries are encouraged to solve issues to prevent the intensification of problems.[60]

            The proposals of Foreign Minister Cem were sent to Athens on February 12, 1998 with hopes that the Greek government would agree to work on these ideas.  The proposal’s major point called for Greece and Turkey to officially adopt and implement the Madrid Declaration which was agreed by Greece, Turkey and the United States.  The adoption of this declaration would prevent any possible war between the two countries and also serve as the ground for improving the strained relations between the two countries after the Imia and Cyprus missile crises.  The Cem proposals also included the idea of forming a group of “wise men” composed of politicians, administrators, professors and experts in the field of Greek-Turkish relations to study ways of improving the relations between the two countries and also to suggest ways to solve the problems in the Aegean Sea region.[61]  Furthermore, Cem also proposed better collaboration with NATO in resolving issues, especially since both Greece and Turkey are NATO members. 

            Foreign Minister Cem’s proposals were well thought out but drew little attention both in Greece and Turkey.  Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos insisted that all issues in the Aegean should be resolved in the International Court of Justice and not through dialogue.  Pangalos pointed out that the Greek government would not change its stance on this matter and that dialogue could not solve the Turkish claim areas in the Aegean Sea, such as the Imia islets.  The refusal for dialogue by the Greek government ended the Cem proposals.  Moreover, the proposals were mostly ignored by Turkish Prime Minister Yilmaz and later on Prime Minister Ecevit who spent most of their attention on the crisis over the Russian missiles in Cyprus.  Consequently, the Cem proposals were put back in the drawer a few months after they were composed.  They would only resurface in 1999, when the two governments appeared more prepared to discuss the problems which caused the crises of the mid to late 1990s.

            The months that led up to and followed the Luxembourg Summit can be considered to be transitional periods in Greece’s position towards Turkey’s EU application.  Unlike previous years, Greece did not use its veto power to block the advancement of EU-Turkey relations.  On the contrary, at the Luxembourg Summit, a majority of EU members agreed to not give Turkey candidate status.  It was therefore not Greece holding up the improvement of Turkey’s involvement with the EU, but rather Turkey’s inability to fulfil the criteria set out for all candidate countries.  The Luxembourg Summit took place in the midst of the Cyprus missile problem and only a short period of time after the Imia crisis.  The Greek government could not make any radical changes to its position because of the situation in its relations with Turkey and because such a move would not have been accepted by PASOK party members or by the Greek public at the time.

            Greek Prime Minister Simitis wanted to provide a setting which would provide initiatives for Greek-Turkish dialogue.  That was his reasoning behind engaging the Greek government delegation to support Turkey’s aspiration towards the European Union.  However, Turkey’s disapproval of the Luxembourg Summit’s decisions did not provide any room for dialogue between Greece and Turkey.  The two governments’ attention returned to the crisis in Cyprus which escalated in the months that followed.  Turkey continued to blame Greece for thwarting its European progress and the period of crisis continued in the months that followed the 1997 Summit.  As such, it was premature to talk of an attempt to alter Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s EU application.  The crisis left little manoeuvring for the Greek government in its policy towards Turkey and ended Prime Minister Simitis’ goal to lower military expenditures, since the crisis with Turkey demanded more funding for national security purposes.



2.3 The Final Crisis: The Öcalan Affair


A few months after the end of the Cyprus Missile Crisis, Greece and Turkey became embroiled in a new dispute, this time over PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.  PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) was lead by Öcalan who fought against the Turkish government with violence and terrorist acts in order to get more rights and possibly independence for the Kurdish population in Turkey.  The war between the PKK and Turkey had lasted for many years and Öcalan was one of the most sought after men by the Turkish government who was eager to arrest him.  In January 1999, the press reported that Öcalan was being protected by the Greek government and that he had even spent time in Greece, hiding from Turkish authorities.  This of course resulted in enraging the Turkish government and thus providing the basis for a new diplomatic conflict between Greece and Turkey, a negative start for the year of the Helsinki European Council Summit.

            Abdullah Öcalan fled Turkey in 1998 to avoid arrest by Turkish authorities.  His trip’s aim was to find a country where he could claim asylum and find protection from the Turkish government.  After failing to find such a place in Italy and Russia, Öcalan went to Greece, with the help of individuals involved in Greek politics and business.  With the help of his Greek friends, Öcalan was flown to the Greek island of Corfu.  The Greek government was not officially aware of this event; however conflicting claims say that government officials were secretly aware of Öcalan’s whereabouts.  When Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Pangalos were informed, they immediately sought to keep Öcalan’s whereabouts a secret and find a country which would give the Kurdish leader asylum.  Both men knew that a leak in the press would cause a major crisis with Turkey who was searching for Ocalan.

            When the government was informed of Öcalan’s presence in Corfu, Prime Minister Simitis assigned Foreign Minister Pangalos with the responsibility of finding a solution to the problem.  After consulting with Öcalan, it was decided that the Greek government would provide a safe have for Öcalan at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya until a solution could be found.[62]  When the Turkish authorities learned about Öcalan’s whereabouts, they set out to have the PKK leader arrested in Kenya.  On February 15, 1999, Abdullah Öcalan was arrested on his way to the Nairobi airport in a car which had been arranged to take him to the airport in order to flee to another country.  The Turkish authorities then flew Öcalan to Turkey where he would go under trial for his terrorist acts against the Turkish state.

            In the following days, the press reported of the events which took place in Greece regarding Öcalan.  The Turkish government was enraged with Greece’s stance on the matter.  As Ziya Onis mentions, Greece’s actions with Öcalan were “interpreted as a sign of direct interference by Greece in Turkey’s domestic politics”.[63]  Turkish government officials blamed Greece of supporting terrorism through the harbouring of the PKK leader and providing support for PKK operatives, something which Turkey had blamed Greece for in the past as well.  The Greek government claimed that it had not known that Öcalan was coming to Greece and that when it was informed, it tried to deal with the situation in such a way as to not provide reasons for a new crisis with Turkey.  The decision proved wrong and the crisis over PKK leader Öcalan proved to be the finishing touch on the three year period of crisis which had begun in 1996 over the Imia islets. 

            The Öcalan affair aroused political sentiments in both Greece and Europe.  The international press commented Greece’s role in attempting to find asylum for wanted terrorists like Öcalan while in Greece, political parties and the public commented on the government’s role and its failure to improve relations with Turkey since taking over in 1996.  Foreign Minister Pangalos explained his decisions in the Greek Parliament, defending his decision to attempt to find a country which would grant asylum to Öcalan.[64]  The opposition parties, led by New Democracy President, Konstantinos Karamanlis, and Synaspismos President, Nikos Konstantopoulos, condemned the Greek government’s inability to respond more positively to the situation it found itself in.  Furthermore, both leaders blamed Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Pangalos for not considering the repercussions of their actions on Greek-Turkish relations and on Greece’s image in the European Union.[65]  Other politicians connected the events of the Öcalan affair with Turkey’s EU future and the distrust which had been built between Greece and Turkey.

            The result of the Ocalan affair was the further deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations just 10 months before the Helsinki Summit.  The relations had already been tested by the Cyprus Missile Crisis and the results of the 1997 Luxembourg Summit, which initially caused Turkey to isolate itself from Europe and blame Greece for the failure of the EU’s acceptance of Turkey as a candidate country.  Furthermore, Greece’s image in Europe and the world suffered a decisive blow because of the involvement of politicians in the Öcalan affair.  Foreign Minister Pangalos resigned because of the role he played in the affair and his inability to stabilize relations with Turkey.  In his place, Prime Minister Simitis chose George Papandreou.  Papandreou was the son of Greece’s former Prime Minister, Andreas Papandreou, and was considered to be a more moderate politician who would seek a better approach towards rapprochement with Turkey.  The good relations between Simitis and Papandreou would, in Simitis’ vision, provide a team for revamping the image of Greece in world politics and especially in the European Union[66].  Consequently, the Öcalan affair brought about changes in the Greek government and the urgency to seek solutions for coming out of the crisis with Turkey.





            The Öcalan Affair ended a three year period of deteriorating relations between Greece and Turkey.  During that time, some efforts for stability and the improvement of bilateral relations were made.  However, the Greek government’s stance of improving relations with Turkey and advocating its neighbour’s place within the EU was tested by the Imia Crisis, the Cyprus Missile Crisis and the Öcalan Affair.  These events played their role in influencing Greece’s position on Turkey’s EU prospects, each in its own way.  The Imia Crisis and the Cyprus Missile Crisis postponed Prime Minister Simitis’ vision for rapprochement with Turkey and arms reduction because they proved the need for more security for Greece and they clearly displayed the instability in Greek-Turkish relations which did not provide an ample setting for a friendly bilateral dialogue on outstanding issues.

            Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s EU application can at best be described as transitional during the period of crisis.  While Prime Minister did drop much of the hard-line ideas of his predecessor, he was not able to implement his policy of engaging Turkey in rapprochement efforts.  Neither was he able to truly shift Greece’s position in the European Council Summits.  The only success came in ending the period of serving as Turkey’s only stumbling block in its EU aspirations. The blocking of Turkey’s EU application in 1997 came as a result of agreement of the majority of EU member states and not of Greece’s veto.  Despite this fact and Greece’s proclamation that it wanted to support Turkey’s European path once it fulfilled the EU criteria, did not stop Turkey from blaming Greece for its failure in gaining EU candidate status.

            By February 1999, the situation was grave and dismal for Greece and Turkey.  It seemed difficult at the time that any shift in Greece’s policy towards the EU-Turkey relations could come anytime in the near future, after the elongated period of crisis with Turkey.  However, as Greek politicians realized, the only way out of the deadlock was through a shift in the policy towards Turkey.  Any party in power in Greece would have realized that maintaining the current policy of tension and disagreement with Turkey rather than active engagement in dialogue and rapprochement would have been disastrous.  The Öcalan Affair brought internal changes in the Greek government and started a period of alternative approaches to Greek-Turkish and EU-Turkey relations.



Chapter 3.

From Crisis to Rapprochement: The Helsinki Summit 1999




            The Imia Crisis, the Cyprus Missile Crisis and the Öcalan Affair were the events which strained Greek-Turkish relations in a three year period of crisis.  By the end of February 1999, the relations between the two neighbours had reached a new low point and Turkey’s vision of obtaining Greece’s support in the Helsinki European Council seemed very unlikely.  Nevertheless, the decision by leaders in both countries to restart the path of rapprochement seemed logical as there was no other road to follow in order to bring stability back to the region.  The rapprochement which began to re-emerge in the spring of 1999 was strengthened by two unfortunate events: the earthquakes of Turkey and Greece in August and September 1999.  The compassion and help which both countries contributed to one another strengthened the spirit of rapprochement and prepared the important shift in Greece’s support of Turkey’s EU application that came at the Helsinki Summit in December 1999.  The friendly relations between Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Cem also displayed the “friendly neighbour” approach which both countries adopted in 1999 in an attempt to show that cooperation was possible between Greece and Turkey.



3.1  The Road Towards Helsinki


The post-Öcalan affair left the ruling PASOK government in Greece with

many dilemmas regarding its failed approach in its relations towards Turkey.  Prime Minister Simitis had promised to bring about a new era in Greece’s foreign policy in 1996 but found himself pondering what went wrong in the first three years of his premiership.  The newly appointed foreign minister, George Papandreou, was more moderate than his predecessor, Theodoros Pangalos and had a better working relationship with Simitis.  Both Simitis and Papandreou knew that the only way out of the crisis and the return to stability was through rapprochement with Turkey.  In due time, Simitis gave Papandreou the authority to come up with new ways of stabilizing Greece’s ailing relationship with Turkey.

            The Kosovo Crisis which escalated in Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro) gave the Greek and Turkish governments a reason to begin reconciliation after the three year period of strained relations.  Foreign Minister Papandreou saw this as a good chance for Greece and Turkey to begin the rapprochement attempts and a way for Greece to restructure its bilateral relations with its neighbour.  The Turkish counterparts also agreed with this move and realized that rekindling relations with Greece would provide some sort of stability in the Balkans which were about to experience serious problems with the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia.

            At the onset of the Kosovo Crisis, Greece was still attempting to reorganise its foreign policy failures and Turkey was informing the world of Greece’s terrorism collaboration with the PKK (the Kurdish movement was considered a terrorist group in Turkey).  The crisis in Kosovo reminded both Greece and Turkey that there were important events taking place in the Balkan region which needed their immediate attention.  Consequently, both Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Cem agreed to move towards a spirit of détente between the two countries in order to avoid any further regional instability[67].  Greece and Turkey have always been considered to be the “powerhouses” of the Balkan and Southeast European regions and both the EU and the United States were expecting the two countries to put bilateral problems on the side in 1999 and aid in easing the problems in the Balkans. 

            The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey seized the opportunity given to them by the Kosovo Crisis and restarted bilateral contacts in order to revamp relations.  The efforts were aided by the fact that Cem and Papandreou had good personal relationships with each other and also the fact that both the Greek and Turkish governments allowed the foreign ministers to nearly work exclusively on the matter of rapprochement in the months after the Öcalan affair[68].  Foreign Minister Papandreou knew well that a lot of work had to be done on his part in order to prove to Greece’s EU counterparts that Greece truly supported Turkey’s path towards EU membership.  It was not easy at the time to simply change the Greek government’s position overnight, especially after the events of the previous three years. Furthermore, Greek public opinion had to be considered in any rapprochement steps with Turkey because Greece’s relations with Turkey (and the previously the Ottoman Empire) have always been a sensitive topic for Greek society[69].  The same point in some effect may also be said for the Turkish side as well.

            Foreign Minister Papandreou evidently proved the emerging shift in Greece’s relationship with Turkey in the spring and summer of 1999.  Papandreou’s strategy in the revamped Greek-Turkish relations would include a show of goodwill towards Turkey which would accordingly bridge relations with Greece’s neighbour.  Keeping in mind that Turkey’s EU candidacy status would once again be a key topic in the December 1999 European Council Summit, Papandreou and Cem proceeded with bilateral contacts.  As the Kosovo Crisis escalated and the bombing in Yugoslavia ended, Cem and Papandreou increased their contacts through a series of letters they sent to each other in the summer of 1999.  It must be pointed out at this point, that the letters were the idea of Turkish Foreign Minister Cem who realized that reconciliation with Greece could increase the prospects of the EU giving Turkey candidate member status in the Helsinki Summit of December 1999. 

            The first letter was sent by Foreign Minister Cem to Foreign Minister Papandreou on May 24, 1999.  The letter suggested that Greece and Turkey should work together to combat terrorism and find ways to move towards a spirit of reconciliation.  Cem even mentioned finding “peaceful means referred to in the UN Charter”[70] as a way to solve bilateral problems between Greece and Turkey.  However, the letter also established the point that Greece should have admitted its involvement in the Öcalan affair and its links with terrorism.  This point was not well accepted by Papandreou and other top officials in the Greek government who saw the letter as a sign of good intent but regarded the Öcalan/PKK mention in the letter as a potential trap formulated by the Turkish government.  Papandreou informed Prime Minister Simitis and the other members of the Greek government.  They admitted that the letter was a good starting point for increasing cooperation with Turkey, something which would eventually lead to better relations and perhaps more stability in the region[71].  A response to the Cem’s letter came in the form of a letter as well.    

            On June 25, 1999, Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou replied to Cem’s letter after carefully considering the proposals of the first letter.  Instead of mentioning Greece’s disagreement with the terrorism theme, Papandreou suggested that it would be beneficial for the two countries to advance their negotiations and relations on subjects on which they agree on.  These included areas such as tourism, economic cooperation, science and technology, transport, cultural items and investments[72].  It was Papandreou’s idea that if agreement could be reached on this basic issues, then it could serve as a good foundation for future negotiation of more difficult political issues.  It did not take long for the Turkish government to agree on the content of the letter and Papandreou and Cem agreed to meet in order to make the agreement on these issues more concrete.

            A meeting was setup in New York on June 30, 1999 between the two foreign ministers and their diplomatic officers at the UN headquarters.  During the meeting, the foreign ministries of Greece and Turkey agreed to setup a system to continue bilateral talks on items on which they agreed on.  As a result, a Greek-Turkish Steering Committee was formed made up of personnel and diplomats from both Greece and Turkey.  The Steering Committee’s role would be to instigate further cooperation on bilateral matters such as economy and trade[73].  Agreement on “low politics” (issues such as economy and trade) could create a friendlier atmosphere when negotiating “high politics” (the Aegean issues, Greece’s veto towards Turkey’s EU application).  However, it was still difficult to transition from “low politics” into “high politics”, considering that bilateral cooperation on sensitive issues had been nearly abandoned in the previous three years.

            The Greek and Turkish governments both envisaged that a transition into bilateral cooperation on “high politics” would mean the withdrawal of Greece’s veto towards Turkey’s EU application.  To the Greek government this would seem ideal in its stride towards regional stability and its goal in making Turkey its “partner” rather than its “rival” in the region.  However, in the summer of 1999, such a move by the Greek government seemed drastic.  As Heraclides mentions in his article, that without the proper political atmosphere, “it is doubtful whether any Greek government would have summoned the courage for such a volte-face[74].  The lift of Greece’s veto towards Turkey’s EU application would have been a bold political move.  Most politicians and scholars agreed that the lifting of the veto would require certain political circumstances, concessions and agreements which would not only benefit Turkey, but also Greece, and which in the long run would provide a basis for resolving all outstanding Greek-Turkish problems. 

            In early summer 1999 the Greek government was also pre-occupied with other issues as well, such as speeding up economic reforms to join the Eurozone (discussed later on in this chapter) and other national matters.  Nevertheless, it still wanted to continue the improvement of relations with its neighbour to the east.  The officials in Greece knew well that further bilateral talks had to take place in the lead up to the Helsinki Summit in order to further demonstrate Greece’s political will to support Turkey’s EU candidate status.  At the same time, there was also a shift in the public opinion which began to support the government’s moves in engaging Turkey in talks after the period of conflict.  The government took the new situation into consideration as well as the new geopolitical situation which was coming about during the summer before the Helsinki Summit.  The end of that summer was about to bring two events which would further push the move towards the strategic reversal of Greece’s policy towards Turkey.



3.2 The Earthquakes of the summer of 1999


            Two earthquakes in the summer of 1999 that occurred in Turkey and Greece further altered the relations between the two countries and provided the basis for the events that would follow in the Helsinki Summit in December.  On August 17, 1999, the region between Izmit and Bursa, east of Istanbul, Turkey, was hit by an earthquake measuring 7,4 on the Richter scale.  The result was mass devastation and physical destruction and more than 15.000 people dead.  Less than a month later, the capital of Greece, Athens, was rocked by an earthquake measuring 5,9 on the Richter scale.  Although the earthquake was notably smaller in magnitude and the casualties much smaller (about 145 people died), it nevertheless provided a similar situation for the two neighbours.  In less than a month, both countries experienced terrible earthquakes which revealed similar socio-political problems.  The populations of both countries blamed their respective governments and authorities for not providing adequate earthquake preparedness and for not being able to cope with the post-earthquake trauma suffered by the civilian population.[75]  The earthquakes, although devastating, provided a reason to bring the two countries closer together in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

            The earthquakes had a profound effect on the public opinion of both countries and lead to sense of mutual suffering.  The pictures shown first in Greece after the Turkish earthquake and later on in Turkey after the Greek earthquake led the people of both nations to feel a sense of compassion for each other.  The tensions that had divided the two nations for centuries were now bridged by the pain and suffering of the earthquakes which occurred in the two regions.  Greece was one of the first to send rescue teams and aid to the Turkish population after the August earthquake and Turkey reciprocated the move in September.  As Gulden Ayman mentions in his article, “as both parties had sent rescue teams to help each other, their gestures were greeted by waves of ecstatic publicity and popular emotion in the press and among the masses.”[76]  The importance of the shift in the public opinion’s feelings towards each other played a very important role in the relations that developed between the two governments following the earthquakes of 1999.  The earthquakes showed that the two countries have a lot of things in common and the people finally began to understand that it is better to go ahead with rapprochement rather than look back at the years of conflict and war.  The sense of reconciliation and cooperation which had been instigated by the two governments after the Öcalan affair was now also shared by the general public.

            The Greek government shared the sense of pain and sorrow which followed the earthquakes.  Moreover, these devastating events also carried some political significance.  Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Papandreou knew well that in order to have a policy reversal at the Helsinki Summit in December, they needed a big event to occur in order to reverse the opinion of the general public in Greece.  The earthquakes of August and September did exactly what the Greek government was looking for.  The public was now a full supporter of further rapprochement with Turkey and approved of the Greek government’s attempts to improve bilateral relations with Turkey.  The public opinion in Turkey exemplified the same thoughts and feelings as that of Greece.  That is why many have called the post-earthquake rapprochement an effort instigated by the people, therefore “people’s or civic diplomacy.”[77]  The path was clear for Greece to further its efforts in continuing the dialogue with Turkey, cooperating to clear the path for Turkey’s EU candidacy approval, and to continue its efforts to meet the EMU criteria.



3.3 The Helsinki European Council Summit-December 1999


            A new era in Greek-Turkish relations had dawned when the dust had settled after the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece.  Most politicians and scholars agree that without the earthquakes and the public outcry that followed for the improvement of relations, it would have been impossible for Greece to have taken the steps and decisions before and after the Helsinki European Council which followed in December 1999.  Having the support of the public and the media in Greece, Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Papandreou worked to present the Greek position regarding Turkey’s EU candidacy at the Helsinki Summit.  The two politicians knew that they had to collaborate with their Turkish counterparts in order to clear the path for Turkey’s EU prospects but also to gain some sort of written agreement on ways to resolve outstanding issues between Greece and Turkey.  Furthermore, the Greek government wanted to secure that Cyprus, already an EU candidate country, would become a member state of the EU regardless of the outcome of EU-Turkey relations.

            In the weeks and days leading up to the Helsinki Summit, it was not yet clear whether Greece would lift its veto on Turkey’s EU candidacy status.  There was a clear intent by the Greek government to show its support for Turkey’s internal socio-political reform.  However, it was not clear how far Greece would go to show its support.  Some hinted that Greece wanted a sign of goodwill from Turkey, that is to say that Turkey would make some kind of concession towards Greece as well.  Officially, the government stated that it would make its decision at the Helsinki Summit and that it could not announce the use or not of its veto power before further negotiations would take place in Helsinki.  Foreign Minister Papandreou proclaimed that the most important factors that Greece had to consider was that Turkey was willing to fulfil the Copenhagen Criteria of 1993 as well as the intention to work towards a feasible solution to the Cyprus problem.[78]  The Turkish government welcomed Greece’s statements but did not agree on the push for Cyprus’ entry into the European Union without a solution for the peaceful co-existence of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities on the island.

            On November 29, 1999 the Greek government sent a memorandum to the Finnish Presidency of the European Union.[79]  In the memorandum, the Greek government outlined its position regarding Turkish candidacy status which would be decided on at the Helsinki European Council meeting on December 11 and 12.  Written by Foreign Minister Papandreou and other officials of the ministry, the memorandum clearly defined Greece’s positions that would be upheld and presented at the summit.  The memorandum had three very important points.[80]  In the first point, Greece stated that it wanted Cyprus to become a member of the EU regardless of whether or not a solution to the Cyprus problem would be reached before its accession.  The Greek government claimed that if Cyprus would join the EU, it would aid efforts and speed up negotiations to reach an agreement on reuniting the island.  It therefore wanted to separate Turkey’s application from the Cyprus problem.  In the second point, Greece wanted the EU to have all potential candidates recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands.  In that instance, Turkey would eventually be forced to take all outstanding issues with Greece for resolution to the ICJ.  Finally, in the third point of the memorandum, the Greek government encouraged the EU to provide a solid road map for Turkey’s EU accession and not to simply approve Turkey’s candidate status with no future reference to how Turkey can eventually become a full pledged member of the EU.  The Greek government proclaimed that the memorandum was the most obvious example of how Greece had shifted its position towards Turkey and that the memorandum threw Greece’s full support towards Turkey’s future in the European Union.[81]

            The Greek government followed its memorandum with more press releases and announcements of its goals for the Helsinki Summit.  Prime Minister Simitis also spoke out for Greece’s goals in the days leading up to the Summit.  On December 3, 1999, Simitis outlined Greece’s goal and positions which would be presented by him and the Greek delegation at the Council Summit.  The theme of Simitis’ briefing was peace, security and development as the standards for cooperation between Greece and Turkey.  Simitis emphasized that if those three elements were present along with other prerequisites, then Greece would lift its veto on Turkey’s EU candidate status.  Simitis’ statement about Greece’s position can be best understood by this statement that he made on that day:

            “We consider that the era of conflict, threats, of expansion of one country at

            expense of another is past.  It is not only past, it is also incompatible with

            international law.  It is for this reason that we believe in Turkey’s European

            vocation.  Its participation, at an initial phase, in the process of European

            integration will facilitate peace and cooperation in the region.”[82] 


The Greek prime minister re-emphasized the points of the November 29 memorandum.  Greece would not lift its veto on Turkey’s candidacy if it was not first completely certain that it would receive some guarantees from Turkey and the European Union.  The most important of those points included a clear path for Cyprus’ accession into the European Union and also a clear plan for resolving outstanding bilateral problems with Turkey.

            Even though the Helsinki European Council was fast approaching, Greek and Turkish counterparts did not waste any time in advancing issues in which they had already reached agreement on.  In early December, Greece and Turkey prepared official agreements on “low politics” issues which had already been verbally agreed to in the summer of 1999 by the foreign ministers of both countries.  These included cooperation on tourism, science and technology, police matters and some discussion on the avoidance of double taxation between the two nations.[83]  Sensitive “high politics” issues were not analysed since these were left for discussion by the foreign ministers and prime ministers of Greece and Turkey.  Nevertheless, the agreement on “low politics” served as a positive precedent for the upcoming Helsinki Summit.  In addition, scholars, reporters and other people who involved themselves in the topic of Greek-Turkish relations organised seminars and discussions about the potential effects of the Helsinki Summit on Greek-Turkish relations.  Tensions were running high in the weeks and days before the Summit and there was a sense of nervousness, especially on the Turkish government’s side.

            On December 10 and 11, 1999, the Helsinki European Council Summit meeting took place in the capital of Finland.  Expectations were high for both Greece and Turkey.  Greece went to the summit with many tasks and with a positive outlook for the future of Greek-Turkish relations as well as Turkey’s role in the European Union as a prospective member.  The Greek delegation had already outlined its expectations for the Helsinki Summit and did not reveal whether or not it would actually lift its veto towards Turkey’s candidate status.  The other 14 EU member states looked towards Greece, as it remained the only stumbling block towards approving candidate status for Turkey.  Having already the spirit of friendship and cooperation inherited from the bilateral talks and the cooperation during the earthquakes, Greece knew that there was not much room for excuses this time.  Nevertheless, the Greek delegation headed by Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Papandreou would not make any concessions without some incentives.  On the other hand, the Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Ecevit and Foreign Minister Cem wanted a clear approval of the candidate status and were weary of Greek insertions and demands. 

            After many diplomatic contacts and behind the scenes negotiations, a historic breakthrough was reached at the Helsinki Summit.  After spending most of the 1990s vetoing Turkey’s candidate status and blocking its road towards EU membership, Greece lifted its veto and Turkey, with approval of all 15 EU members, became an official candidate country for EU accession.  The event was truly historic as it signalled a shift in Greek-Turkish relations.  The momentum that was gained in the summer of 1999 was now evident through the events of the Helsinki Summit.  Furthermore, the decision to bring Turkey closer to the European “club” provided an optimistic outlook for relations between Greece and Turkey.  Previously, Greek vetoes at European Union summits only worsened relations between the two neighbours.  It was now therefore easy to conclude that the positive outcome of the Helsinki Summit would only lead to further rapprochement between Greece and Turkey and enhanced bilateral contacts.

            Greece’s veto lift at the Helsinki Summit was achieved after the Greek government received assurances for the requests it had made in the memorandum sent to the Finnish Presidency in November 1999.  Those demands were included in the Helsinki Presidency Conclusions as pre-requisites for the further advancement of Turkey’s path in the European Union and for the eventual opening of accession negotiations.  Firstly, the European Union made it clear that from the Helsinki Summit on, any candidate country would need to solve border disputes with any of the existing member states in compliance with the UN Charter.  In case of failure, the dispute would then have to be resolved through the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  In the case of Turkey, the EU Council gave a deadline for the end of 2004 to resolve border disputes with Greece.  Secondly, the Presidency Conclusions stated that talks for the resolution of the Cyprus should be restarted through the UN, but that a resolution on the problem will not be made a prerequisite to Cyprus’ accession to the European Union.[84]  This point was a very important achievement of Greek foreign policy as it nearly secured Cyprus’ accession with the first group of candidate countries from central and eastern Europe.

Finally, the European Union presented a “road map” for Turkey, provided it made necessary reforms to abide to the Copenhagen Criteria and work on items such as its human rights record.  The EU promised in its conclusions to help Turkey along the way and open negotiations once it has concluded that Turkey has adequately fulfilled the Union’s prerequisites.[85]  These three points were hailed a diplomatic success by the Greek government, since all of the points in its memorandum were satisfied.  On the other hand, Turkey was satisfied with the candidate status it achieved, but did not happily accept the preconditions that were imposed on it by the European Union through the pressure of the Greek government.  The Turkish government came very close “to turning down the EU’s Helsinki offer because of the Greek-inserted conditions.”[86]  It was very sensitive on the subject of Cyprus’ accession and was disappointed to see that the EU had succumbed to Greece’s pressure and said that it would allow Cyprus to become a member without a solution to the problem which has been present on the island since 1974.  Despite these problems, Turkey accepted the conclusions in order to proceed with its EU application and promised to start internal reforms.

            The events of the Helsinki Summit were hailed a success by the ruling PASOK (socialist) government in Greece and by the Greek public opinion, since it seemed that Greece had succeeded in securing its vital national interests while at the same time making the “friendly” move in lifting its veto towards Turkey.  On December 15, 1999, the Greek Parliament held a proceeding in which one of the topics was the outcome and results of the Helsinki Summit.  Prime Minister Simitis confirmed that his government had succeeded in fulfilling all the points which Greece had made in its November memorandum.  Furthermore, Simitis reiterated that Greece wanted the EU to give Turkey a clear road map towards accession with clear steps that must be taken in order to eventually become a member of the EU.[87]  The Prime Minister continued his speech in the Greek Parliament by mentioning that the Helsinki Summit was a two-fold success.  Firstly, Greece had succeeded in bringing its neighbour closer to the EU as well as closer to Greece through the improvement of bilateral relations.  Secondly, Greece had succeeded politically and diplomatically by convincing the EU that it needed to impose certain rules and regulations for Turkey.  Additionally, Greece secured Cyprus’ accession to the EU with or without a resolution to the Cyprus problem.  According to Simitis, these gains were very important diplomatic successes and brought prestige to Greece in Europe and the world.[88]  Simitis once again outlined the points of the Helsinki Summit Conclusions and emphasized the importance of the 2004 deadline for resolving outstanding issues with Turkey.  He also pointed out that the European Council could intervene at any point until 2004 in any of the four points made in the Presidency Conclusions and furthermore emphasized that this will lead to internal reform in Turkey and better relations between Greece and Turkey.

            In the same parliament proceeding of December 15, New Democracy (conservatives) president, Kostantinos Karamanlis, spoke on behalf of his party and as leader of the opposition parties in Greece on the results of the Helsinki European Council.  In theory, New Democracy fully supported better relations with Turkey and rapprochement.  However, in his speech, Karamanlis took a different view at the results of the Helsinki Summit and the effects it would have on Greek-Turkish relations.[89]  Besides giving his support for the eventual resolution of the problems between Greece and Turkey, Karamanlis pointed out the potential traps of the Helsinki Summit conclusions, which in his party’s view, were not explained to the Greek public.  Karamanlis believed that at the December summit, Greece acted in a sign of goodwill in lifting the veto towards Turkey’s candidate status without getting any show of goodwill in exchange or any form of guaranteed assurance from the Turkish side.  Furthemore, as Karamanlis pointed out, this was a dangerous situation because past examples, such as the lifting of Greece’s veto in the EU-Turkey Customs Union (1995), had only resulted in an escalation of Greek-Turkish problems (see the Imia Crisis which followed in January 1996).

            In the same speech, the New Democracy president played down the so called achievements of the PASOK government at the summit.  While he did congratulate the effort made on convincing the EU to include Cyprus eventually as a member with or without a resolution to the Cyprus problem, Karamanlis decreased the appreciation of the other achievements which were proclaimed by Prime Minister Simitis.  He said that at a close investigation, the text of the Presidency Conclusions did not force Turkey to actually resolve border conflicts with Greece by 2004 nor did it specifically say that Turkey was obliged to resolve this at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  Rather, the text said that if Greece and Turkey did not resolve their border conflicts either through dialogue or though the ICJ by 2004, then the European Council would re-investigate the situation and take further decisions on the matter.[90]  By making clear the interpretation of the text, Karamanlis wanted to let his fellow parliament members that the agreements reached in Helsinki between Greece and Turkey were good as an idea, but provided no solid guarantees for resolving bilateral problems nor did they actually put any pressure on Turkey to revert from a possible aggressive policy towards Greece.  Karamanlis closed his speech by saying that Greece had lost one of its most powerful foreign policy tools, the veto on Turkey’s EU candidate status, something which in the past exerted pressure on Greece’s neighbour to improve bilateral relations in order to gain support for its EU application.



3.4 Reasons for the “Great Realignment” in Greece’s Policy Towards Turkey


            There are many reasons that can be used to explain the shift in Greece’s policy towards Turkey at the Helsinki Summit in 1999.  Some have already been briefly mentioned throughout this paper.  However, besides the obvious facts, there are some underlying reasons which may not be so obvious at a first look. The Greek government officially claimed that the shift in its policy towards Turkey, the so called “great realignment”[91], was done to bring stability to the region and to provide a better future for Turkey in Europe.  This point is true of course, but only one of the many reasons why Greece took the courageous step in 1999 to finally bring an end to the crisis it endured with Turkey during much of the 1980s and 1990s.

            The stability factor was a point often mentioned in the foreign policy reversal which PASOK attempted to introduce in 1996 but which only became more apparent after the 1997 Luxembourg Summit.  Greece believed that by bringing Turkey closer to Europe through the European Union, it could finally put an end to Turkish threats and its aggressive policies in the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean regions.  To achieve this, Greece would have to act on its statements that it supported Turkey’s integration with Europe.  Consequently, the lift of the Greek veto in Helsinki seemed as a natural step at a time and point where Greek-Turkish relations were enjoying a period of peace and public support.  According to the Simitis foreign policy platform, the lift of the veto towards Turkey in 1999 would energize Turkey’s efforts for internal reform, provide a continuum for peace in Greek-Turkish relations, as well as end the threats and military escalation in the Aegean.[92]  The policy reversal at Helsinki in 1999 would accordingly allow Greece and Turkey to become protectors of stability in the Balkans and provide an example for the troubled region.

            The arms race which proved to be extremely costly for Greece and Turkey was also another reason for the policy reversal at the 1999 summit.  Between 1996 and 2000, Greece spent $14 billion in revamping its military equipment.  Similarly, Turkey announced a $150 billion military spending programme for a 30 year period beginning in 1996.[93]  Moreover, military spending in Greece increased by 30 percent between 1989 and 1999.  The figure is astounding for a country the size of Greece and put the country in the first places among European nations in military spending.  Military spending accounted for a large percentage of the annual government budget and only contributed to increasing the state’s deficit.  The problems between Greece and Turkey and the crises that occurred in the 1990s gave reason for the government to increase military spending in order to keep the country in a “state of war” in case the situation ever reached the ultimate step of the crisis.  Additionally, the act of spending more to protect the country against the “aggressive” neighbour gave a sense of protection to the Greek public who supported this idea in the times of escalating crises with Turkey.  Public opinion support for such moves were important and as previously mentioned, public opinion has always played a decisive factor in the advancement of Greek-Turkish relations.

            The Greek government headed by the PASOK socialists wanted a substantial reduction of the military budget but could not achieve this in the 1996-1999 periods because of the three crises which occurred with Turkey in three successive years.  Rather than reducing the budget, PASOK actually increased it as it is displayed by the figures mentioned above.  The excessive government spending, largely influenced by the military budget, and the fiscal policy administered through 1999 had as a result the exclusion of Greece from the European Monetary Union (EMU)[94] that year.  Moreover, Greece was not in the club of the 11 countries which would introduce the new Euro currency in 2002.  This was of course disappointing for the Greek government and it sought ways to speed up economic reform in order to join the EMU/Euro before the introduction of the paper notes and coins on January 1, 2002.  Rapprochement with Turkey could lead to a stage by stage military spending reduction as well as a further de-escalation of military threats in the Aegean.  It is therefore easy to grasp the Greek government’s idea that allowing Turkey to become an EU candidate country would be interpreted as a bid for both countries to decrease their military spending.  Greece expected that Turkey’s EU candidacy would build further confidence in the neighbourly relations which would signal an end to the arms race.  The end of this regional arms race would allow more room for Greece to manoeuvre in its fiscal planning to join the EMU.

            In the mid 1990s, Greece began a quest to prove to its European counterparts in the EU that it was no longer a laggard and backward member of the union.  Unfortunately, Greece’s failure to meet the EMU criteria did not do much to prove this point.  Additionally, many of the other EU member states believed that Greece held back the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) because it often made foreign policy decisions solely based on national interests and without taking into consideration the position of the European Union.  The dispute over the name of the newly emerged “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Greece’s embargo on that nation did not fare well with other European nations.  Furthermore, the Greek government’s stance in the Bosnia conflict as well as its decision to support the Serbs in the Balkan crisis of the 1990s did not draw much support from fellow EU members.[95]  Although many EU countries counted on Greece’s veto in the 1990s to block the advancement of Turkey’s EU application, by 1999, even Germany and France had reached agreement on supporting Turkey’s bid for the EU.  If Greece would have used its veto in Helsinki, it would have done so alone, with no backstage support from any other EU member.  Such a move would have worsened Greece’s position among the political core of the European Union and would have dealt another blow to Greece’s foreign policy modernization.  The lift of the Greek veto at the Helsinki Summit as well as the Greek-Turkish rapprochement of 1999 was welcomed by the EU and encouraged.  The results were seen as a positive step in providing unity in that region of Europe and even perhaps making ground for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

            Finally, Greece’s policy reversal at the Helsinki Summit achieved something which Greek governments of the past had failed to do so.  The Helsinki Presidency Conclusions clearly point out the European Union’s involvement in Greek-Turkish relations through the involvement of the European Council.  While in the past the EU had encouraged better relations between Greece and Turkey, it remained for the most part somewhat “neutral” and maintained the role of a distant observer.  Furthermore, the Council Conclusions were de-facto recognition by the EU of the differences/problems between Greece and Turkey.  The Greek government knew that at the Helsinki Summit, the European Council would support an increased role in resolving Greek-Turkish problems if Greece agreed to lift its veto on Turkey’s EU candidate status.  The statements in paragraph 4 of the European Council Presidency Conclusions reached in Helsinki gave a clear signal that Turkey must improve its relations with Greece before it can become a member of the European Union.  So while Greece knew that its policy reversal in 1999 with the lift of its veto meant that it lost some of the power it exerted over Turkey, it was willing to proceed with this move knowing that it now had the European Union on its side as a partner for resolving bilateral problems with Turkey.





            The Helsinki European Council Summit of 1999 proved to be a key event in Greek-Turkish relations in the 1990s which would shape the future of the region in the years to come.  In 1999, the Greek government finally proved that it did support Turkey’s European path not only through words, but also through actions.  Through its sign of goodwill in Helsinki, Greece hoped that a new era would dawn on its relations with Turkey.  There was a sense of friendship, cooperation and prosperity in the relations between the two neighbours and public opinion in both countries supported the efforts on which the two governments had embarked on.  The 1999 Summit proved that the rapprochement which had started after the Öcalan Affair was not meant to be brief, but could be continued with further positive results in the future ahead.  Despite some negative comments by the opposition parties in both Greece and Turkey, and some disagreement over the actual text of the Presidency Conclusions, mostly by Turkey, it seemed likely that the days of crisis where over.  Nevertheless, there still was a long road ahead in resolving many bilateral problems and the Cyprus issue still remained a thorn for both sides, even though the EU had declared that the island would become a member of the Union with or without a resolution to the problem.



Chapter 4.

Beyond Helsinki: Solidifying Relations 2000-2002




            The post-Helsinki momentum improved relations between Greece and Turkey but also built the foundation for cooperation on matters which the neighbours could easily agree on.  A number of meetings and agreements came about in the 2000-2002 period.  With the renewal of the PASOK government’s term in the 2000 elections, Greece was able to continue the same policy towards Turkey and increase the improvement of bilateral relations.  Nevertheless, not everything went smoothly after Helsinki neither did all bilateral problems disappear from one day to the next.  On and off statements about the everlasting issues of disagreement still continued to emerge and there were still many problems in discussing the major issues at stake between the two regional rivals.  However, the Helsinki Summit and its aftermath secured a solid partner for Turkey at the upcoming European Council Summits.  At the crucial Copenhagen Summit of 2002, Turkey knew that it could count on Greece to push its EU application further among the European counterparts.  As simple as it may seem, it was only a few years before 2002 that Greece would have done the opposite.  Therefore, by 2002 Greek-Turkish relations were well on their way of moving further away from the old days of bickering and conflict.



4.1 Stabilising Relations: The Helsinki Aftermath


            When the debates in both countries and the discussions over the results of the Helsinki Summit had ended, Greece and Turkey re-started the process of engaging one another in further bilateral meetings.  Less than two months after the Helsinki Summit, Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou visited Ankara for three days on 19-22 January 2000.  The visit was reciprocated by Turkish Foreign Minister Cem in a visit to Athens on 5-6 February 2000.  The purpose of the visits was to solidify cooperation on the issues which had been agreed on in the summer of 1999 (“low politics”) through the signing of official agreements for bilateral cooperation.  Nine agreements were signed between Greece and Turkey on different issues which would be implemented in a period of two years from the date of the signature of the agreements.  These included items such as cooperation in tourism, economics, culture, investments, terrorism and crime.[96]  Furthermore, the delegations of the two countries agreed to cooperate on other matters, such as cooperation between journalists.  This resulted in the formation of the Turkish-Greek Press Council which instigated more contacts between the journalists of both countries who encouraged the improvement of relations and rapprochement efforts after the Helsinki Summit.[97]  Moreover, there were more cases of cooperation on lower levels among civilians, businessmen, in sports and in cultural areas which all added to the spirit brought upon the peoples of both nations after the earthquakes of 1999 and the Helsinki Summit.

            The shift in Greece’s policy in Helsinki meant that the door towards the EU was now open for Turkey.  However, the Greek government wanted to follow up this new policy towards Turkey’s EU prospects with contacts and suggestions which would enforce Turkey’s progress towards internal reform and which would in the long term provide a basis for the further improvement of bilateral relations.  At the January 2000 meeting of the foreign ministers, the Greek delegation proposed the formation of a Joint Task Force.  The objective of the Joint Task Force would be to provide Turkey with seminars and information about the EU’s acquis communitaire as well as to share the Greek know-how gained by 20 years of membership in the EU.[98]  The Steering Committee which had been formed to formulate the content of the nine agreements signed in January/February 2000 also continued to work on other matters.  Consequently, the foreign ministers had these two groups along with their own ministerial staff in order to engage each other and continue reforming bilateral relations.  Once again, the friendly relationship between Papandreou and Cem also played an important role in the improvement of the relationship between Greece and Turkey.        

            Soon after the Helsinki aftermath, Greece entered an electoral campaign period with the national elections of April 2000.  The ruling PASOK socialist party was hoping that it would retain power and defeat New Democracy once again.  Much of its campaigning was focused on its foreign policy and economic successes.  That is to say that it emphasized the fact that under its leadership it finally brought stability to Greek-Turkish relations and opened the door to Turkey’s EU membership.  The PASOK party platform emphasized the importance of strengthening Greece’s position as an EU member and the role that rapprochement with Turkey played in this important goal.[99]  Furthermore, PASOK reiterated that the stability with Turkey allowed it to concentrate on joining the European Monetary Union (EMU) for which it had failed to become a member of in 1999.  Greece’s EMU application was sent to the European Union for consideration in March 2000.  The rapprochement with Turkey and the way that the Greek foreign ministry handled the ailing relations after the Öcalan Affair were well received by the general public opinion in Greece and played a decisive factor in the election results of 9 April 2000.  Despite the achievements hailed by PASOK in its election campaign, there was still some disagreement about the handling of relations with Turkey from party members.  Similarly, New Democracy held a firm approach on criticizing PASOK on its foreign policy, but nevertheless also supported rapprochement with Turkey.

            PASOK won the 2000 elections after a closely battled campaign and retained the ability to continue its foreign policy towards Turkey.  However, the victory was slim, 43,79% for PASOK compared to 42,74% for New Democracy.[100]  This meant that although the Greek public approved of PASOK’s handling of foreign policy and general matters, a percentage of the population was nevertheless critical of the socialist party.  PASOK party members interpreted the results as a clear mandate to continue engaging Turkey but perhaps in a more careful manner and by giving more attention to the opposition parties.  The stronger New Democracy representation in Parliament meant that there would be more criticism and debate on the future moves towards Turkey.  Considering this fact, the PASOK leadership pondered the slowing down of rapprochement efforts for a while in order to allow both sides to “digest” all the progress that had been made in a short period of time.  There was also some internal political movement in Turkey at the same time, with the election of A.C. Sezer as the new president of the country, which meant that rapprochement would be put on the sideline at least for the time being until both countries could adjust to the new political standards attained.



4.2  A Reminder of the Problems Ahead and the USA/NATO Factor


            The summer of 2000 passed with relative quietness for Greece and Turkey, when compared to the events which had taken place only a year before.  The Greek application to the EMU was accepted on March 9, 2000 and approved by the European Council after a recommendation by the European Commission on June 19, 2000.[101] This was a great achievement for Greece and many gave credit to the stabilization of relations with Turkey because it allowed Greece to finally concentrate on its economic affairs.  Putting the EMU and internal policies aside, Greece and Turkey decided to head back to the negotiating table for bilateral talks in order to further strengthen the relationship they had built over the past year.  It is important to understand that at this point Greece was considering that further rapprochement and goodwill gestures would eventually convince Turkey to alter its tough stance on important issues such as the Cyprus problem and the Aegean Sea points of disagreement.  On the other side, the Turkish government was willing to improve relations in order to get a permanent proponent in its path towards EU membership.[102]

            Greece and Turkey decided to take part in NATO’s Destined Glory 2000 Military Exercises on October 9-25, 2000.  These exercises took place in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean and it was the first chance for the two neighbours to display their military cooperation through NATO, both of which countries are members of.  During the military exercises, Greece and Turkey disagreed over the flight path that Greek jets took over some of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.  Turkey claimed that Greece was in violation of the Lausanne Treaty and objected to the flights over certain islands.[103]  Greek Defence Minister Tsohatzopoulos called for the cancellation of the military exercises because he claimed that Turkey was obstructing Greece’s involvement in the NATO exercise.  He further added that Turkey was using the exercise to prove its claims and disputes with Greece over the Aegean Sea.[104]  NATO refused to cancel the exercise and Greece consequently withdrew its participation on October 23, 2000.  The events of October 2000 were reminiscent of the pre-Helsinki years when such events were common between Greece and Turkey.  Many pondered at the time if the event meant to strengthen the military alliance through the regional partnership of the two neighbours would actually spell the end of the rapprochement efforts.

            The disagreement over the NATO Destined Glory 2000 exercise between Greece and Turkey confirmed the fact that although much ground had been covered in improving relations since 1999, the road ahead was long and difficult.  Turkey on its side proved that it was still able to confront Greece over the Aegean issues and provoke through the interception of Greek air force jets.  Greece on its side immediately sought NATO intervention for the Turkish acts and when it received no action, it decided to withdraw from the exercise rather than negotiate or instigate talks with Turkey over the problem which was raised.  The exercise proved that Greece and Turkey were still not able to make clear decisions when a matter of disagreement occurred between them and this worried both sides.  Many were ready to point fingers at the foreign ministries of both countries as well as the ministers of defence for the utter failure of the NATO exercises and the press was waiting to put a “tombstone” on the rapprochement efforts.  Nevertheless, Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou reiterated that Greece and Turkey were still willing to continue the improvement of their bilateral relations and that it was “natural” to find “difficulties and stumbling blocks” in the difficult path ahead.[105]  The events of October 2000 also highlighted the difficult problem over the Aegean issues which along with the Cyprus issue have been a straining point in Greek-Turkish relations.

In October 2000, the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey met in Budapest in order to revive the implementation of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), an idea which had been started in 1988 but had never been fully implemented.  The CBMs aim was to build further ties between Greece and Turkey through traditional ways but also through a military framework.  As a result, both countries decided to involve NATO in some of the CBMs, since both are members of the military alliance.  Three military CBMs were agreed on in the autumn of 2000 on matters such as information sharing regarding military exercises and cooperation in military training.  Another five CBMs were also agreed on during the meeting which involve direct implementation through the political structures of both countries outside the NATO framework.[106]  These CBMs would allow the two neighbours to share information regarding military matters, exercises and other defence related issues which in the view of the foreign ministers would prevent the possibility of a potential military conflict between the two nations.  They were meant to also strengthen the regional NATO alliance between two nations which had nearly gone to war several times during their membership in the Trans-Atlantic Alliance.

            The Greek government was keen to emphasize the importance of the CBM’s in sustaining regional stability in the Aegean Sea with its Turkish neighbour.  At the Helsinki Summit in 1999, Greece had been successful in getting the European Union involved in the resolution of Greek-Turkish problems, without overwhelming approval from Turkey.  On the contrary, the CBMs were agreed upon by both Greece and Turkey and involved the participation of another international organisation, NATO, in the stabilization of the nations’ bilateral relations.[107]  The Greek policy was geared towards providing incentives for Turkey to become more involved in European structures which would increase the momentum for democratic reform within Turkey.  Greek policy makers agreed that the more Turkey reformed and the more it was pushed towards the EU path, the less likely it would be to continue confrontations with Greece and there would be more room for Turkey to reach an agreement on sensitive bilateral issues.  The CBMs and the involvement of NATO were believed to be a positive step in that direction and were meant to provide more measures to keep the two countries further away from the possibility of conflict.

            The signing of the CBMs and the involvement of NATO in the framework of military cooperation and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean provided a bridge for the differences that marred the Greek-Turkish joint military exercises in October 2000.  However, another problem that proved to be a thorn in the improving relations between Greece and Turkey became more evident after October 2000.  This time it came through the EU’s European Defence and Security Policy (ESDP) which is part of the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).[108]  The ESDP was created to form a military tool for the EU which could act separately from NATO.  The Greek government pushed strongly for the idea of military integration within the European Union.  Greece considered that being a member of an EU military tool would add pressure to Turkey, not a member of the EU, because any future threats or possible conflicts would involve a military response by not only Greece, but all the EU member states involved in the ESDP.  The Turkish government, worrying that the ESDP could be used against it by Greece in the foreseeable future, objected and blocked the advancement of the ESDP negotiations.  Turkey understood well that the ESDP plans would need the use of NATO resources for any military cooperation, at least in the beginning.[109]  It consequently objected to any use of NATO resources under the ESDP framework, thus putting a large obstacle to the ESDP’s future.

            The military quarrelling between Greece and Turkey had now effectively spilled over to the EU and NATO.  For the first time, two organizations, the US and all EU member states were involved in resolving a bilateral dispute in order to advance a European defence programme.  Turkey strengthened its stance and by 2001 demanded a say in ESDP military actions, while Greece objected to the Turkish involvement since the ESDP idea was part of the European Union, something which Turkey was not a member of.  Difficult negotiations took place in the months that ensued between Turkey, the United States and Britain in order to reach a solution.  Finally, in time for the December 2002 Copenhagen European Council Summit, an agreement was reached which solved the thorny issue over the ESDP.  The decisions were proclaimed in the form of the “Ankara Document”.  In the document, it was clearly stated that the ESDP and its military force, namely the Rapid Reaction Force which was planned, could under no circumstance be used against an ally of the European Union, therefore any NATO member (i.e. Turkey).[110]  Furthermore, all sides agreed that the ESDP would not be involved in any military actions in the Aegean Sea or Cyprus and would need full NATO approval to use NATO military sources (from NATO member states).  As the “Ankara Document” seemed to concede more to Turkey, Greece demanded the inclusion of a clause stating that no NATO member could launch an attack on any EU member state.[111]  The contents of the Ankara Document and Greece’s request where adopted in the Brussels European Council of October 24 and 25, 2002.

            The Greek-Turkish disputes over the NATO military exercises and the European Union’s ESDP programme proved that intervention by third parties was necessary in order to resolve such issues.  Third parties mainly referred to the role played by the United States, as a country itself and through NATO.  After the military exercise disagreement, NATO stepped in immediately providing its support for the CBMs which were agreed upon between the two countries.  However, when the ESDP became a problem, the US had to intervene to solve the issue for the EU and NATO.  Once again, as in the Imia Crisis of 1996, the US became an important player in solving military arguments between Greece and Turkey.  The US played an important role in drafting the “Ankara Document” and reaching a consensus in keeping peaceful terms between NATO and the ESDP force.  Greece failed in attempting to use the ESDP as a way to provide more security for itself against Turkey.  Similarly, Turkey failed in receiving a bigger role in the ESDP and did not derail the project.  In effect, the debacle set a safer future for Greece and Turkey by making it unacceptable for NATO and ESDP members to come into conflict.  Fortunately enough, the military disagreements between Greece and Turkey over the NATO exercises and the ESDP did not have a serious effect on progressing the rapprochement effort on other issues.



4.3 Greece’s Role in the EU-Turkey Accession Partnership


            After putting the small confrontation of the NATO exercises aside, Greece and Turkey resumed the task of fulfilling their national priorities.  For Turkey, it was to reform itself internally as a nation and for Greece to aid its neighbour in a manner in which it would not only benefit Turkey, but also itself.  Following the same principles of foreign policy as those of the Helsinki Summit in 1999, Greece decided to make its role clear in the EU-Turkey Accession Partnership negotiations which was the new item on the agenda towards the end of 2000.  The Accession Partnership document was to be drafted using the findings of the European Commission’s “Regular Report on Turkey’s Progress Towards Accession”.  In the Accession Partnership document, the EU would clearly point out the points on which Turkey would need to make further improvements on in order for accession negotiations to begin.  The adoption of this document by the European Council would therefore provide a “road map” for Turkey in its path towards joining the EU.  This was well received by the Greek government, as it had been an ardent supporter of a clear “road map” for Turkey even before the Helsinki Summit was concluded.

            The Greek government wanted the Accession Partnership document to re-emphasize the points which it had succeeded on having included in the Helsinki Presidency Conclusions (1999).  This meant a clear statement by the European Union commending Turkey to make a better effort on the Cyprus front as well as on the border disputes in the Aegean Sea.  Greece succeeded in having these issues included in the document and furthermore made the points very clear during the European Council discussions regarding the adoption of the document.[112]  In the short term goals of the EU-Turkey Accession Partnership, the European Union emphasized its support and priority on reaching a settlement on the Cyprus issue through the United Nations.  This would require full compliance by Turkey and a more profound cooperation with the UN and all parties involved in the Cyprus talks.  In point 4.2 of the Accession Partnership document, under medium-term goals, the EU once again spelled out the importance of resolving border disputes with member states of the Union before the commencement of accession negotiations.[113]  This document would be used by the EU to consider when to open accession negotiations with Turkey at the Copenhagen European Council Summit of December 2002.  Furthermore, the Accession Partnership document required Turkey to submit to the Union a National Programme based on which it would give a timeline for the reforms it would seek to implement in order to fulfil the items mentioned in the Partnership document.

            The EU-Turkey Accession Partnership document was officially adopted by the European Union after a meeting of the heads of state of the member states in the European Council on March 8, 2001.  This was met with much satisfaction by the Greek government as it had successfully solidified the EU’s involvement in requiring Turkey to improve relations with Greece and Cyprus prior to the beginning of accession negotiations.  Furthermore, the Greek government supported giving a date in 2002 for the commencement of accession negotiations with Turkey and further argued to its EU counterparts that Turkey should be treated fairly and in an unbiased manner much like the other EU candidate states.  The Greek government believed that these further acts of goodwill on its side as well as a more solid stance on the country’s will to see Turkey become an EU member would entail a reciprocation move by the Turkish government on the matters regarding the Aegean and the Cyprus problem.  Despite the fact that Turkey did include these two points in its National Programme submitted to the EU, it was not clear whether or not and to what effect Turkey would strive to solve these two problems by 2004.[114] The Greek government believed that by further advocating Turkey’s case in the EU and by continuing its policy of friendly rapprochement to its neighbour would eventually provide fruitful results.  Turkey would eventually change its tough stance on the Aegean issues and become more cooperative on the Cyprus problem.  At least this was the inherent belief of the Greek officials at the time.



4.4 Cooperation and Challenges Leading to the Copenhagen Summit


            The remainder of 2001 passed without any major developments or changes on the Greek policy towards Turkey’s EU future.  In May 2001, the foreign ministries gave further approval for the implementation of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) under the auspices of NATO on military issues affecting both nations.  The agreement gave a more important role to NATO and was greeted with approval by both the European Union and the United States.  All parties believed that the bigger role that international organizations such as NATO and the UN took, as well as regional players such as the EU, the better chance there would be for the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey.  This would in effect clear one of the stumbling blocks to Turkey’s path to the European Union.

            The year closed with the Laeken European Council Summit on December 14 and 15, 2001 in Belgium.  At the summit, the Greek government took a stronger stance on its position towards Turkey’s future in the European Union.  At the time, some of the EU members, namely France and Germany were pondering the effectiveness of the reforms in Turkey.  To convince the doubters, the Greek delegation used the example of the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey as a sign of Turkish political reform.  Furthermore, Greece reminded that it was beneficial for the Balkan region to have Turkey in Europe because of the stability factor.  A Turkey within Europe would end the possibility of an act of aggression in the future.  In the Presidency Conclusions of the summit, the European Council applauded some of the success in the reforms implemented in Turkey but also pointed out that more work needed to be done in order to begin accession negotiations.[115]  At the Summit, Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Cem agreed to restart rapprochement efforts in 2002 after a period of relative inactivity in 2001.

            2002 began with a series of more intense Greek-Turkish bilateral meetings.  The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey met several times in February and discussed the issue of beginning a dialogue between the two ministries to discuss outstanding issues.  After meeting in New York, Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou visited Istanbul for the European Union-Islamic Conference Organization forum in February 2002.  At the sidelines of the forum, Papandreou and Cem had the chance to hold some talks regarding the advancement of the bilateral dialogue.[116]  After the summit, Greece and Turkey set a tentative date for the beginning of bilateral talks for March 12, 2002.  The talks would only concentrate on the problem of the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea and could perhaps be expanded later on to include other bilateral issues, such as the Cyprus problem or the airspace dispute.[117]  The Greek foreign ministry made it clear that these contacts would be based on dialogue and they were not meant to be negotiations on resolving the problem.  It was the inherent belief of both foreign ministries, especially that of Turkey, that bilateral problems could be solved through dialogue.  Moreover, it was the first time that Greece agreed to hold a dialogue on a “high politics” issue such as the continental shelf argument in the Aegean Sea

            Other forms of cooperation were also agreed upon in the span of that year.  On February 13, 2002, Greece and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding in Athens on issues such as tourism, energy and agriculture.  They also agreed to provide an easier framework for businessmen of the two countries to cooperate and agreed to meet again to discuss further items of economic cooperation in Istanbul.[118]  The group formed with staff from various ministries of Greece and Turkey was named the Greek-Turkish Economic Cooperation Ministerial Committee.  The committee was in charge of concluding agreements on issues of vital interest for both countries, mainly in economic terms.  The agreements which were signed along with the formation of new dialogue groups for “low politics” issues seemed very similar to the ones which were formed in 1999 prior to the Helsinki European Council.  The success of those meetings influenced the leaders of both countries who believed that similar agreements in 2002 would help yield positive results for Turkey at the upcoming Copenhagen European Council Summit.

            The rapprochement efforts and the bilateral dialogue were frozen once again by the summer of 2002 as Turkey began to experience political and domestic problems.  This was added to an already mounting economic crisis which had begun in 2001.  The political problems in Turkey turned the attention away from improving relations with Greece for a while.  Contacts where not broken, as some economic cooperation meetings continued to take place, but the dialogue on the continental shelf issue in the Aegean Sea was left aside.  Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit’s health was deteriorating and he was being bombarded with criticism from his own party as well as from other parties about the political and economic situation of the country.  These events came at an unfortunate time for Turkey, as it was only months before the Copenhagen European Council of December 2002, and it was necessary for the Turkish government to further along the process of dialogue with Greece regarding the Aegean disputes as well as finding a resolution over the Cyprus problem.

            The mounting problems in Turkey over Prime Minister Ecevit’s government and his unwillingness to step down because of health problems lead to the resignation of Foreign Minister Cem on July 11, 2002.  In the days that followed, Ismail Cem formed a new political party which he named “New Turkey”.[119]  Cem’s move was made as a sign of protest towards Ecevit and also as a call for the government to call early elections in Turkey.  Other government ministers and ministers of parliament followed Cem’s move, mounting pressure on the Turkish government.  For Greece, the resignation of Cem left many government officials with a sense of hesitation and uncertainty for the future.  Much of the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey since 1999 had occurred on the strong will and initiative of Turkish Foreign Minister Cem in cooperation with Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou.  There were some worries in Athens that the departure of Cem would further slow down the efforts of both countries to solve bilateral problems. 

            Eventually, early elections were announced in Turkey for November 3, 2002, only one month before the very important Copenhagen Summit.  Prime Minister Ecevit appointed Şukru Sina Gurel as the new Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Ismail Cem.  From the Greek perspective, Gurel was not as much in favour of rapprochement as his predecessor and advocated a slowing down of the process.[120]  Officially though, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs congratulated the appointment of the new minister and called for a continuation of cooperation on further matters of common interest.  The Greek government was hoping that the situation in Turkey would stabilize soon because internal political upheaval could well turn into a regional problem with negative effects on Greece.

            In the meantime, Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit continued the push for the commencement of accession negotiations with the European Union.  His diminishing power and the upcoming elections paralyzed many of the reforms in Turkey in the summer of 2002 along with any serious dialogue with Greece.  Prime Minister Ecevit called on the European Union to give a date for Turkey’s accession negotiations in September 2002, only to receive a negative outcome on the European Commission’s regular report on Turkey.  In the 2002 report, the European Commission stated that although Turkey had made much progress in many fields and had undergone serious reform, little progress had been made since 1999 on the justice and home affairs requirements and it still did not fully meet the 1993 Copenhagen Criteria.[121]  Furthermore, the Commission’s report did not include a date for the commencement of accession negotiations.  The outcomes of the report where not only negative for Turkey, but also for Greece, who as an advocate for Turkey’s EU prospects, would have a very difficult time convincing EU leaders to go against the Commission recommendations and give a date for accession negotiations to Turkey.

            The November 3, 2002 elections in Turkey resulted in the Justice and Development Party-AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) winning the power to form the new government of the country.  Abdullah Gul was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Turkey and took over the difficult task of putting the country back on the path towards the EU.[122]  The AKP party was based on Islamic traditions, but called itself a democratic party which would not impose Islamic fundamentals in its policy.  Nevertheless, neither Greece nor the EU knew what to expect from the new Turkish regime.  Especially in Greece, there was a leaning view of uncertainty towards the new government and whether it would further push Turkey’s EU application and restart cooperation with Greece, or whether it would seek an alternative policy.[123]  The Greek government did not want to see the rapprochement efforts which the two countries had worked on so much, be put on the side after so much ground had been covered over the previous years.

            Fortunately for Greece, the new AKP government of Turkey proclaimed that it wanted to pick up the rapprochement efforts where the preceding government had left off and also declared that it would take a more proactive role in the resolution of the Cyprus problem.  However, with only one month to go to the Copenhagen European Council Summit, there was much diplomatic work to be done by the Turkish government and very little time to convince EU leaders to agree to a date for Turkish accession negotiations.

            A positive development prior to the Copenhagen Summit was the submission of the Annan Plan, an initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for resolving the Cyprus problem.  The Anna Plan was submitted to all sides involved, Greece, Turkey, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots with the hope that it would provide the basis for the solution of the problem between the two communities on the island.  The new Turkish government, perhaps in act of goodwill or to show that it was committed to solving the problem, accepted the text and said that it was a good starting point for negotiations.[124]  The Greeks and Greek-Cypriots also approved and only met opposition from the Turkish-Cypriot government.  Nevertheless, the Greek government was satisfied by the level of cooperation which the new Turkish government displayed in such a short period of time.  This gave even more reason for Greece to advocate a date for the commencement of accession negotiations for Turkey in the upcoming Helsinki Summit.  It was evident that the new government would push for more reforms in order to further Turkey’s EU path and Greece wanted to capitalize on this by using the cooperation on bilateral problems as an incentive for Turkey in exchange for stronger Greek support in the European Council.



4.5 The 2002 Copenhagen European Council Summit


            The European Council Summit of the winter of 2002 was set to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 12 and 13.  The stakes were high as this was another very important summit not only for Turkey, but for the EU as a whole as it would decide which countries to include in its 2004 enlargement, the largest ever in the Union’s history.  Turkey, a candidate country since 1999, was the only nation out of the 13 candidates which had not started accession negotiations and had not yet received a date to start the negotiations.  It was Turkey’s ultimate hope that the leaders of the EU would give a starting date for accession negotiations.  However, this seemed difficult as there were many countries which questioned Turkey’s reforms.

            The Greek government was determined to become the leading advocate for Turkey in the Copenhagen Summit.  In the days leading up to the meeting, Greek Prime Minister Simitis and Foreign Minister Papandreou toured European capitals to have talks with EU leaders about Turkey’s EU prospects as well as Greece’s presidency of the EU.[125]  Most of the EU’s leaders, such as French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schroeder were not convinced with the pace of Turkey’s reforms and were persistent about not giving a date until all of the Copenhagen Criteria would be met by Turkey.[126]  Italy was one of the few countries which agreed with Greece on giving a date for Turkey to start negotiations in 2004.  In his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Greek Prime Minister Simitis outlined the Greek/Italian viewpoint by saying that “the more the date for the initiation of accession negotiations is delayed, the more the message becomes less clear and positive.”[127]  The prime minister’s message meant that Greece believed that a postponement of a date for accession negotiations could have possible meant that the EU was not serious about eventually accepting Turkey as an EU member.  Greece was worried what such an interpretation by Turkey could spell for Greek-Turkish relations.

            The Greek government arrived in Copenhagen determined to achieve another success in its foreign policy, much like that of the 1999 Helsinki Summit.  The Greek delegation’s goals were two-fold.  The first goal was to push for the inclusion of Cyprus’ accession to the EU along with the eight Central and East European Countries and Malta.  The second was to strongly advocate and attempt to convince the other EU members that it was vital to give Turkey a date for accession negotiations.  In the negotiations for Cyprus, many countries were not convinced that it would be beneficial to admit Cyprus to the EU without a further effort on the resolution of the Cyprus problem.  However, Greece threatened that it would veto the whole enlargement process, thus not allow any new country to accede to the Union, if Cyprus was not admitted.  Fearing the consequences of such a move, EU leaders agreed to include Cyprus in the list of ten new countries which would become member states of the European Union in 2004.[128]  Thus the Greek government’s goal was achieved, securing Cyprus’ place in the EU without a resolution to the island’s problem.

            Greece’s second goal was much more difficult to achieve in Copenhagen.  As mentioned, many were sceptical about the reforms achieved in Turkey, even though there had been many legislative changes in 2002, especially in last minute sessions held before the Copenhagen Summit.  France and Germany were in favour of giving Turkey a date in 2005 and were not easily convinced by Greece’s arguments.  Most of the EU members concluded that it would be best to decide when to open negotiations with Turkey in 2004.  Greece, Italy and Spain came up with idea of proposing to look at Turkey’s progress once again in 2003 in regards to the Copenhagen Criteria and perhaps then giving a date for Turkey to begin negotiations in 2004.[129]  Despite intense efforts to convince its EU counterparts, Greece failed to get the backing of more countries on its proposals, besides Italy and Spain. 

            The Presidency Conclusions of the European Council Summit confirmed the decisions of the EU member states.  Cyprus had completed accession negotiations and would accede to the Union in 2004.  In its conclusions, the European Council encouraged the attempts to solve the problem on the island by all sides involved and gave a February 28, 2003 deadline to find a resolution in hopes of admitting a unified Cyprus by the time of the signing of the accession treaty in April 2003.[130]  In regards to Turkey, the European Council acknowledged the reforms which had taken place in the country in order to meet the Copenhagen Criteria.  However, considering that Turkey had not fulfilled all the criteria, the Council decided to review Turkey’s status in December 2004 to decide when to open accession negotiations.[131]  The European Council therefore did not set out a date for the opening of the negotiations with Turkey, nor did it promise to begin the negotiations after December 2004.

            The results of the Copenhagen Summit were positively accepted by the Greek government.  It had succeeded on getting Cyprus admitted to the Union with or without a resolution to the problem.  The February 28, 2003 deadline which the Union had set for the resolution of the Cyprus problem was favourable for Greece because it was interpreted as a chance to cooperate with Turkey and to perhaps get an act of goodwill by the neighbour in response to the support which Greece had shown for the Turkish case at the council.  The decision about the date for the opening of negotiations between the EU and Turkey was not hailed a success, however Greece was satisfied by the attempts it made to reverse the decision and knew well that Turkey could not complain about the Greek position regarding the matter.  Nevertheless, there was a fear within the Greek government that Turkey’s rejection in Copenhagen could have followed one of two paths.  Turkey would have either attempted to reform itself at a faster rate, which would be a positive development, and would attempt to solve issues such as the Cyprus problem and the Aegean issues with Greece to prove to the EU its “Europeanization” process.  On the other hand, Turkey could also have stopped reforming itself to EU standards because it could have interpreted the Presidency Conclusions as a sign of Europe not convincingly wanting Turkey to become a member of the Union.  Greek fears were concentrated on the fact that this could have possibly resulted to regional instability, retaliation moves towards Greece and a tougher stance by Turkey on the Cyprus problem.

            For Turkey, the Copenhagen Council Summit was interpreted as a “failure” by most politicians and journalists at home.  Turkey had failed to keep Cyprus out of the EU without first reaching some sort of resolution to the bi-communal problem on the island and it had failed to convince the EU members that it would reform itself faster as a result of the obtainment of a date for the opening of accession negotiations.  The Turks believed that they had come a long way in meeting the Copenhagen Criteria and had many examples to prove that point.  Domestically, many in Turkey blamed the new government for the lack of experience in European politics and for the inability to convince France or Germany to back Turkey’s bid for a negotiations date.[132]  However, there was no blame put on Greece, but rather a positive view on the way the Greek government represented Turkey’s interests at the EU Summit.

            The Copenhagen Summit of 2002 was an important point in the culmination of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement efforts.  The Greek government solidified its foreign policy towards Turkey by actually becoming Turkey’s strongest advocate in the European Council.  It was less than ten years before the Copenhagen when Greece had been searching for reasons to obstruct Turkey’s EU path.  The Copenhagen Summit clearly displayed the complete reversal of Greece’s approach to Turkey’s EU prospects, a process which had started in 1999 and culminated in 2002.  Furthermore, Greece proved that it was serious about its foreign policy towards Turkey and wanted to show that the further relations improved with Turkey, the more it would be willing to give a helping hand to Turkey’s European aspirations.  This of course did not mean that Greece and Turkey had completely stabilized their relations by 2002. The two main issues over Cyprus and the Aegean were still open and Greece was worried about the effect of the Copenhagen Summit on Turkey’s will to discuss the resolution of these two problems.  There was also scepticism about which path rapprochement with Turkey would now follow, as it was not completely clear which policy the AKP government in Turkey would adopt.


4.5.1 A Short Update 2003-2004


            Turkey’s failure to receive a date for accession negotiations at the Copenhagen Summit did not affect relations with Greece because the Greek position at the Summit had been so strong that it received much praise from Turkey.  In the post-Copenhagen Summit period, Greece encouraged Turkey to reform and further argued the case for giving Turkey a date for accession negotiations as soon as possible.  Relations between Greece and Turkey further improved, with more bilateral meetings, agreements and dialogue on common problems.  In the 2003-2004 period, a large effort was put on solving the Cyprus problem and both Greece and Turkey played a proactive role.  The failure to reach a solution did not bear much effect on the relationship of the two countries.  On the contrary, Prime Minister Erdogan became the first Turkish Prime Minister to visit Greece in 2004 since 1988.  The change of governments in Greece with the return of the New Democracy conservatives did not instigate a change in Greece’s policy towards the EU-Turkey relationship.  Prime Minister Karamanlis decided to continue the policy of rapprochement and the policy of pushing for the advancement of Turkey’s EU application.  In December 2004, Turkey finally received a date for the commencement of accession negotiations, something which received a warm welcome in both Greece and Turkey.





            The 2000-2002 period was an important role in Greece’s position towards Turkey’s EU prospects because it showed that despite some problems, it would not allow some obstacles to thwart the progress it had made with Turkey since 1999.  Greece and Turkey continued their efforts of improving bilateral relations despite going through small periods of crisis or disagreement over the NATO military exercises and the EU’s ESDP Rapid Reaction Force programme.  Unlike the past, the disagreements did not stop the bilateral contacts, nor did it put an end to Greece’s support for Turkey’s EU path.  On the contrary, by overcoming these problems, Greek-Turkish relations were strengthened.  At the Copenhagen European Council Summit of 2002, Greece was able to take a more solid stance towards Turkey’s EU path and became the leading advocate for Turkey’s application within the European Council.  Greece also secured Cyprus’ membership within the EU, an important goal which provided security for the island and became a deciding factor in pushing for a resolution to the Cyprus problem, an outstanding Greek-Turkish issue.

The 2002 Copenhagen Summit served as the culmination in the shift of Greece’s policy towards the Turkey-EU future and it became evident that there was no way back to the policies of the 1980s and 1990s.  Nevertheless, as the post-Helsinki period showed, there were still many outstanding issues between Greece and Turkey (i.e. the Aegean issue, the Cyprus problem, etc.) which still needed to be resolved.  The rapprochement efforts did not put an end to the minor disagreements that sprung up after December 2002 and which still appear today.  However, it did set the path for the future of Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s accession to the European Union.  That is the role of being one of Turkey’s strongest proponents within the EU for the sake of stability, European unity and in the prospect of resolving bilateral problems.





         It is evident that Greece’s position on the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the European Union has evolved since Turkey submitted its official application in 1987.  This paper has attempted to display the shift in the position adopted by the Greek government by explaining the factors which affected and ultimately led to the shift in the policy adopted by successive Greek governments.  The Greek government’s initial policy on the EU-Turkey relationship was tough but has nevertheless evolved with an accelerating pace since the Helsinki European Council Summit of 1999.  In the years following the Helsinki Summit, successive Greek governments have solidified the shift in Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s EU aspirations.  As it has been mentioned throughout this paper, the shift has involved Greece in changing its policy of being Turkey’s constant stumbling block in its relations with the European Union, to becoming one of Turkey’s most ardent supporters within the EU.

            The change in the Greek policy towards Turkey’s EU membership application can be summarized by two factors.  Greece’s policy has evolved because of the events which have affected Greek-Turkish bilateral relations and also by the government changes in both Greece and Turkey.  That is to say that the changing of governments in both countries has affected the way that the governments have interacted since 1987.  While certain political figures adopted a tough stance on Greek-Turkish bilateral problems, others approached the issues in a more proactive way, thus seeking rapprochement between the two countries.  As the events have shown, successful periods of rapprochement between Greece and Turkey have aided the advancement of Turkey’s EU application.  On the contrary, disagreements, tensions and reaching the brink of war have pushed Turkey further away from Europe.  It can therefore be concluded that the Greek policy towards Turkey has been influenced by the different politicians which became involved in the nations’ politics since 1987.  Initially, the position adopted was that of Turkey’s isolation from Europe.  However, by the late 1990s, the position had changed towards pushing Turkey closer to Europe to provide stability for Greek-Turkish relations.

            The events which have been played out since 1987 have also played an important factor in the Greek policy shift.  The initial policy of isolating and blocking Turkey from the European Union led to a great strain in Greek-Turkish relations and did not solve any of the bilateral issues.  The pressure method which Greece implemented on Turkey in order to solve the bilateral problems did not have any fruitful results.  Rather, as this paper shows, the failure of this policy strained the relations between Greece and Turkey so much so, that they reached a dead end in the winter of 1999 after a period of successive crises.  It was during that pivotal year that the evident shift in Greece’s policy towards the EU-Turkey relationship occurred.  It took the crises of 1996-1999 to pressure the Greek government to take an alternative approach towards its neighbour and the future that Turkey could have as a prospective member of the European Union.  Only then did it become clear that it was more beneficial for Greece, for Greek-Turkish bilateral problems and for the South-eastern Mediterranean region as a whole to integrate Turkey further into the European project rather than isolate it.  The Greek government understood that a Turkey striving to join Europe would be more willing to solve outstanding issues with Greece mentioned throughout this paper.

            Finally, it is evident that there is a clear relationship between Greek-Turkish relations and the European Union.  From the onset, Greece has tried to involve the European Union (and others such as NATO, United Nations, etc.) in the troubling relationship that it shares with Turkey.  The events which have occurred have displayed a simple observation.  That is that when Turkey’s application for EU membership is postponed or not encouraged, it has negative effects on Greek-Turkish relations.  In the years before the 1999 Helsinki Summit, Greece always braced for the worse when negative news came regarding Turkey’s EU application, as it was easy for Turkey to blame Greece for blocking its application.  On the contrary, good news about the advancement of Turkey’s EU application has sped up the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey and has encouraged the resolution of bilateral issues.  On the other hand, troubles in the neighbourly relations have also played a negative role in Turkey’s EU application.  They affected Greece’s position on Turkey’s application as well as the position of other EU member states who could not accept a country as a candidate state as long as it had such a troubling relationship with an EU member (Greece). 

            The shift of the Greece’s policy towards Turkey’s EU application has come a long way since 1987.  It has endured periods of crises and periods of rapprochement and has evolved from a policy of isolationism to a policy of integration.  The lifting of Greece’s veto could not have been imagined even a couple of months before the Helsinki Summit of 1999.  However, the events which occurred during that summer and the years before along with the approach taken by the politicians in both Greece and Turkey heralded a new approach in Greece towards the EU-Turkey relationship.  The post-Helsinki summit has thankfully solidified Greek-Turkish relations and brought stability to the region.  In addition, Turkey’s application for EU membership has advanced and enjoyed unprecedented support from successive Greek governments.  It is everyone’s hope that the events of the late 1980s and 1990s are part of the past and that Greece and Turkey will enjoy better relations in a stable environment which will perhaps sometime in the near future see the resolution of all bilateral problems and the accession of Turkey in the European Union.


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[1] For more on the events of 1974 in Cyprus and the bi-communal problem, see, Clement H. Dodd., The Cyprus Imbroglio, Huntingdon, England: The Eothen Press, 1998.

[2] Fotios Moustakis, The Greek-Turkish Relationship and NATO, London, Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, p.38.

[3] Mustafa Aydin, Contemporary Turkish-Greek Relations: Constraints and Opportunities, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis, Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, pp.29-30.

[4] Turkey claimed that Greece was in violation of the 1976 Bern Declaration which both countries had agreed on. The Declaration stated that Greece and Turkey would hold talks to solve the Aegean continental shelf problem and would refrain from conducting activities in the disputed areas of the Aegean Sea. For the Bern Declaration, see Tozun Bahceli, Greek-Turkish Relations Since 1955, Boulder, Westview Press, 1990, appendix 1.

[5] Thanos Veremis, The History of Greek-Turkish Relations 1453-2003, Athens,Greece, Sideris Publications, 2003, pp.158-159 gives an overview of the March 1987 crisis in the Aegean Sea.

[6] NATO and the US have intervened in escalating crises between Greece and Turkey in order to avoid a military conflict between two NATO members several times. In the late 1980s, NATO was keen to keep its two Southeast Mediterranean members at peace in order to keep the alliance intact, since the Cold War was still a reality. On the contrary, the USSR was not interested in Greek-Turkish relations, as events such as the March 1987 crisis were seen as a sign of weakness in the NATO military alliance by Moscow.

[7] Heinz Kramer, ‘Turkish Application for Accession to the European Community and the ‘Greek Factor’’, Europa Archiv, 42, 10, (November 1987), pp. 605-614.

[8] Sotiris Rizas, From Crisis to Détente: Konstantinos Mitsotakis and the Policy of Rapprochement Between Greece and Turkey, Athens, Greece, Papazisis Publications, 2003, pp.96-97.

[9] See Speech by Andreas Papandreou, Greek Parliament, Session C’ (Γ’)Proceedings, 11 March 1988, p.4651.

[10] See Speech by Andreas Papandreou, Greek Parliament, Session C’ (Γ’) Proceedings, 11 March 1988, p.4651.

[11] See Appendix 1 in  Gulden Ayman, ‘Negotiations and Deterrence in Asymmetrical Power Situations: The Turkish-Greek Case’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004.

[12] Ronald Meinardus, ‘A New Phase in Greek-Turkish Relations’, Europa Archiv, 43, 14, (July 1987), pp.403-411.

[13] New Democracy (conservatives) President, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, leader of the Greek opposition parties supported rapprochement with Turkey but proclaimed his worries about the effects of the Davos Process and whether the agreements would be effective and have long lasting results. For the full speech by Konstantinos Mitsotakis, see Greek Parliament, Session C’ (Γ’) Proceedings, 11 March 1988, pp.4655-4658.

[14] See Speech by Andreas Papandreou, Greek Parliament, Session C’ (Γ’) Proceedings, 11 March 1988, p.4654.

[15] Sotiris Rizas, op. cit., p.99.

[16] See point II in European Commission, Commission Opinion on Turkey’s Request for Accession to the Community, <>, 20 December 1989.

[17] Electoral changes made by the PASOK government under Prime Minister Papandreou’s leadership lead to an extended electoral period in Greece because New Democracy failed to get the majority set in the new electoral law. A transitional multi-party member government was setup on July 2, 1989 with Tzannis Tzannetakis as Prime Minister. Two more such transitional governments with Yannis Grivas and Xenophon Zolotas acting respectively as prime ministers followed until the New Democracy electoral win on April 11, 1990.

[18] Richard Clogg, ‘Greek-Turkish Relations in the Post-1974 Period’, in Dimitris Constas (ed.), The Greek-Turkish Conflict in the 1990s,New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1991, pp.12-23.

[19] Sotiris Rizas, op. cit., pp.73-107.

[20] See interview in Newsweek magazine, New Wave in Athens, 16 July 1990.

[21] See Annex VIII in European Council, Presidency Conclusions Dublin, 25-26 June 1990, <>, 25-26 June 1990.

[22] Heinz Kramer, ‘Turkey’s Relations with Greece: Motives and Interests’, in Dimitris Constas (ed.), The Greek-Turkish Conflict in the 1990s, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1991, pp. 57-61.

[23] For details on the Cyprus resolution initiatives and failures, see the book by Clement H. Dodd, Cyprus: The Need for New Perspectives, Huntingdon, England, The Eothen Press, 1998.

[24] Sotiris Rizas, op.cit., p.129.

[25] Thanos Veremis, op.cit., p.161.

[26] Konstantinos Mitsotakis Foundation, Press Conference by K. Mitsotakis After Meeting Turkish Prime Minister M. Yilmaz, 9 November 1991.

[27] See Greek Parliament, Session XΖ’ (ΞΖ’) Proceedings, 29 January 1992, pp.3281-3285 and Konstantinos Mitsotakis Foundation, Statements by K. Mitsotakis After His Speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 1 February 1992.

[28] In 1992, the Greek government was trying to deal with the naming dispute over the newly emerged former Yugoslav state of “Macedonia”. Greece objected to the use of the name “Macedonia” by the new country, since it historically referred to a region in northern Greece under the name Macedonia. Furthermore, the new state used emblems which Greece proclaimed as emblems of the Greek region of Macedonia. The name dispute was a hot-topic in 1992 and the Greek government was pressured by opposition parties in order to find a solution to the problem.

[29] Sotiris Rizas, op.cit., p.177.

[30] See Article V in the Western European Union, Modified Treaty of Brussels of the Western European Union, <>, 23 October 1954.

[31] Fotios Moustakis, The Greek-Turkish Relationship and NATO, London, Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, p.46.

[32] See United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, <>, 10 December 1982.

[33] Tozun Bahceli, ‘Turning a New Page in Turkey’s Relations With Greece? The Challenge of Reconciling Vital Interests’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, p.99.

[34] European Commission, European Commission-Turkey Joint Press Release, <>, 6 March 1995.

[35] See the discussion in Greek Parliament over the possible exchange of the veto on the EU-Turkey Customs Union with a date for accession negotiations for Cyprus, Greek Parliament, Session OH’Proceedings, 14 February 1995, pp. 3754-3755.

[36] “Europeanization” refers to compiling a foreign policy in line with other EU member states on important issues.  In the past, Greece had been blamed for making foreign policy decisions solely based on national interests, something which is problematic for the EU’s CFSP(Common Foreign and Security Policy, discussed later on in this paper). “Europeanization” in Greece’s case also refers to reforming its economic policies to come in line with EU standards.

[37] Dimitris Keridis calls the Simitis foreign policy of 1996 to 1999 as the “Great Realignment” in his article ‘Domestic Developments and Foreign Policy: Greek Policy Toward Turkey’, in Dimitris Keridis and Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in the Era of Globalization, Dulles, VA: Brassey’s Publishing, 2001, p.12.

[38] The Imia islets were ceded by Italy to Greece in 1947 as part of Italy’s concessions to the Allied Powers after its defeat in World War II. The status of the islets had been negotiated in 1932 between Italy and Turkey and it was agreed by both sides that Imia (Kardak), were under the jurisdiction of the Dodecanese (later ceded to Greece). The agreement was not ratified and was negotiated by officials and not high-representatives.

[39] Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Question of the Imia Islands: Turkish Allegations on “Grey Zones” in the Aegean Sea, <>, accessed 10 November 2004.

[40]European Parliament, Texts Adopted by the European Parliament, February 15, 1996, <>, 15 February 1996, p.14

[41] Thanos Veremis, ‘The Protracted Crisis’, in Dimitris Keridis and Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in the Era of Globalization, Dulles, VA: Brassey’s Publishing, 2001, p.44.

[42] Harris Georgiades, ‘Greece and the EU-Turkish Relationship’, in A. Mitsos & E. Mossialos (eds.), Contemporary Greece and Europe, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2001, p.427.

[43] Mustafa Aydin, ‘Contemporary Turkish-Greek Relations: Constraints and Opportunities’, in Mustafa Aydin and Kostas Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London: Routledge, 2004, p.33.

[44] Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 10 January 1997.

[45] Ibid.

[46] European Council, Luxembourg European Council Presidency Conclusions, <>, 12-13 December 1997.

[47] Mustafa Aydin, op.cit., pp.33-34

[48] Thanos Veremis, op.cit., p.45.

[49] Ibid., pp.45-47.

[50] Fotios Moustakis, The Greek-Turkish Relationship and NATO, London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, pp.48-49.

[51] Ibid., p.56.

[52] Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 9 December 1997.

[53] Bahar Rumelili, ‘The European Union’s Impact on the Greek-Turkish Conflict’, The European Union and Border Conflicts, 6, 1, p.12.

[54] See statements by Luxembourg Prime Minister Junker in Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 15 December 1997.

[55] European Council, Conclusions of the European Council on Turkey Since Luxembourg (December 1997), <>, date accessed 20 November 2004.

[56] See paragraph 31-36 in European Council, Luxembourg European Council Presidency Conclusions, <>, 12-13 December 1997.

[57] Ibid., paragraph 28.

[58] Harris Georgiades, op.cit., p.427.

[59] William Park, ‘Turkey’s European Union Candidacy: From Luxembourg to Helsinki-to Ankara?’, Mediterranean Politics, 5, 3, Autumn 2000, pp.33-36.

[60] Ekavi Athanassopoulou, ‘Blessing in Disguise? The Imia Crisis and Turkish-Greek Relations’, Mediterranean Politics, 2, 3, Winter 1997, p.78.

[61] Thanos Veremis, op.cit., pp.46-47.

[62] Vasilis G. Lampropoulos, ‘What Happened in Nairobi’, To Vima Newspaper, 21 February 1999.

[63] Ziya Onis, ‘The Role of the European Union in Greek-Turkish Relations: Perpetuator of Conflict or Contributor to Peace?’, in Christos Kollia & Gulay Gunluk-Senesen (eds.), Greece and Turkey in the 21st Century: Conflict or Cooperation?, New York: Nova Publishers, 2003, p.10.

[64] Greek Parliament, Session PA’ (ΠΑ’) Proceedings, 16 February 1999, pp.4459-4460.

[65] Ibid., pp.4460-4463.

[66] Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, ‘The Changing Role of the EU Factor in Greek-Turkish Relations’, London School of Economics and Political Science: Hellenic Observatory, 1st Symposium on Modern Greece, 21 June 2003, p.3.

[67] Alexis Heraclides, The Greek-Turkish Conflict: Towards Resolution and Reconciliation, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis, Turkish-GreekRelations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, p.75.

[68] Alexis Heraclides, Greek-Turkish Relations from Discord to Détente: A Preliminary Evaluation, The Review of International Affairs, 1, 3, (Spring 2002), p.21.

[69] See a case study on the topic by Katharina Hadjidimos, The Role of the Media in Greek-Turkish Relations.

[70] See Letter from Mr. Ismail Cem, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, to Mr. George Papandreou, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Greece, <>, 24 May 1999, p. 1 of 2pp.

[71] Alexis Heraclides, ‘Greek-Turkish Relations from Discord to Détente: A Preliminary Evaluation’, The Review of International Affairs, 1, 3, (Spring 2002),p.21.

[72] For a complete list see the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilateral Relations (The Rapprochement Process), <>, accessed 10 November 2004.

[73] Ibid.

[74] See Alexis Heraclides, ‘The Greek-Turkish Conflict: Towards Resolution and Reconciliation’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis, Turkish-GreekRelations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, p.76.

[75] For the Turkish response to the earthquake, see Paul Kubicek, ‘The Earthquake, the European Union and Political Reform in Turkey’, Mediterranean Politics, 17, 1, (Spring 2002).

[76] See Gulden Ayman, ‘Negotiations and Deterrence in Assymetrical Power Situations: the Turkish-Greek Case’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean,London, Routledge, 2004, p.233.

[77] Ayten Gundogdu, ‘Identities in Question: Greek-Turkish Relations in a Period of Trasformation?’, Middle East Review of International Affairs, 5, 1, (March 2001), p.106.

[78] Georgios Papandreou, ‘Our Position Towards ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to Turkey’, To Vima Newspaper, 5 December 1999.

[79] Note: The Presidency of the European Union rotates among the member states of the EU every 6 months. Finland held the Presidency from July to December 1999.

[80] For more analysis on the memorandum see, Jurgen Reuter, ‘Reshaping Greek-Turkish Relations: Developments Before and After the EU-Summit in Helsinki’, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), pp.8-10.

[81] Note, the memorandum supported Turkey’s future involvement in the EU without actually proclaiming whether or not Greece would actually lift its veto on the candidate status for Turkey at the Helsinki Summit.

[82] Athens News Agency, Daily News Bulletin in English, <>, 3 December 1999.

[83] Ibid.

[84] See paragraph 4, 9a, 9b, 12 in  the European Council, Helsinki European Council Presidency Conclusions, <>, 10-11 December 1999.

[85] Ibid.

[86] Nazmi Akiman, ‘Turkish-Greek Relations: From Uneasy Coexistence to Better Relations?’, Mediterranean Quarterly, 13, 3, (Autumn 2002), p. 31.

[87] Greek Parliament, Session N’ Proceedings, 15 December 1999, p. 2362.

[88] For more details, see Greek Parliament, Session N’ Proceedings, 15 December 1999, pp.2362-2363.

[89] For more details and the full speech, see Greek Parliament, Session N’ Proceedings, 15 December 1999, pp.2375-2381.

[90] See paragraph 4 in the European Council, Helsinki European Council Presidency Conclusions, <>, 10-11 December 1999.

[91] Many authors call the shift in Greece’s policy, (i.e. the lift of the veto in Helsinki 1999) towards Turkey part of the “great realignment” of Greece’s foreign policy which was the vision of Kostas Simitis from the time he became Prime Minister in 1996. The “great realignment” meant bringing Greece closer to its EU counterparts through a revision of its foreign policy and through economic adjustments that would make Greece no longer a “backward” member in the EU.

[92] For more on Prime Minister’s Simitis ideas for Greek-Turkish relations, see Dimitris Keridis, ‘Domestic Developments and Foreign Policy: Greek Policy Towards Turkey Today’, in D. Keridis & D. Triantaphyllou (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in the Era of Globalization, Dulles, VA., Brassey’s Publishing, 2001, pp. 4-15.

[93] The statistics are from Panayotis I. Tsakonas, ‘Communization of the Enemy: The Greek Strategy on Counterbalancing Turkey and Greek-Turkish Relations’, in Panayotis I. Tsakonas (ed.), Contemporary Greek Foreign Policy: A Comprehensive Approach (Volume B’), Athens, Greece, Sideris Publications, 2003, p.50.

[94] Greece did not fulfil the EMU criteria for entry on January 1, 1999. For more on the EMU and the Convergence Criteria see the European Commission, SCADPlus: Convergence Criteria,

<>, 25 February 2003.

[95] More on Greek foreign policy in the Balkans during the 1990s can be read in Othon Anastasakis, ‘Greece and Turkey in the Balkans: Cooperation or Rivalry?’, in Ali Cargoglu & Barry Rubin (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in an Era of Détente, London, Routledge, 2005, pp.49-55.

[96] For the full list and dates of implementation see, Hellenic Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Bilateral Relations (The Rapprochement Process)”, <>.

[97] Yucel Acer, Recent Developments and Prospects for Settlement of the Aegean Disputes, Turkish Studies, 3, 2, (Autumn 2002), p.204.

[98] Alexis Heraclides gives more details about the Joint Task Force in: The Greek-Turkish Conflict: Towards Resolution and Reconciliation, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, p.79.

[99] For a good analysis on the role of foreign policy in the 2000 Greek elections, see Nikolaos Zahariadis, ‘A Framework for Improving Greek-Turkish Relations’, Mediterranean Quarterly, 11, 4, Fall 2000, pp.112-114.

[100] Hellenic Ministry of the Interior, National Elections Portal, 2000 Election Results, <>, accessed 20 April 2005.

[101] For the decision regarding Greece’s EMU entry see, European Commission, Economic and Monetary Policy, Bulletin EU 6-2000: 1.3.4, <>, 7 July 2000.

[102] In 2000, Turkey was beginning a series of internal socio-political reforms in order to meet the Copenhagen Criteria set out by the European Union in 1993 for all EU candidate states.

[103] Gulden Ayman, ‘Negotiations and Deterrence in Asymmetrical Power Situations: The Turkish-Greek Case’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis (eds.), Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, p.234 further explains the argument used by Turkey against the flights of Greek jets over certain islands in the Aegean and the demilitarization case mentioned in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty.

[104] Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 19 October 2000.

[105] Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 25 October 2000.

[106] Details about the CBMs agreed upon in 2000 can be read in The Hellenic Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilateral Relations (The Rapprochement Process), <>, accessed 10 November 2004.

[107] More on NATO’s role in the CBMs is explained in Fotios Moustakis, The Greek-Turkish Relationship and NATO, London, Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, pp.152, 156-157.

[108] For more information on the EU’s ESDP and CFSP see, European Commission, Common Foreign & Security Policy (CFSP)-Overview, <>, February 2002 and European Commission, EU Security Policy & the Role of the European Commission,

<>, December 2002.

[109] P. Tsakonas and A. Tournikiotis, ‘Greece’s Elusive Quest for Security Providers: The ‘Expecations Reality Gap’’, Security Dialogue, 34, 3, (September 2003), pp.308-311.

[110] Burak Ege Bekdil and Umit Eginsoy, Turk-Greek Dispute Still Stymies EU Force, <>, 30 September 2002.

[111] European Council, Brussels European Council Presidency Conclusions, October 24-25, 2002, <>, 26 November 2002.

[112] Kalypso Nicolaidis, ‘Europe’s Tainted Mirror: Reflections on Turkey’s Candidacy Status After Helsinki’, in Dimitris Keridis and Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in the Era of Globalization, Dulles, VA.: Brassey’s, Publishing, 2001, pp.247-248.

[113] See point 4.1 and 4.2 in European Council, Council Decision of March 8 2001 on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey, <>, 24 March 2001.

[114] Ayten Gungogdu, ‘Identities in Question: Greek-Turkish Relations in a Period of Transformation?’, Middle East Review of International Affairs, 5, 1, (March 2001), p.113.

[115] See European Council, Conclusions of the European Council on Turkey Since Luxembourg (December 1997), <>, date accessed 20 November 2004.

[116] See Athens New Agency, News in English, <>, 12 February 2002.

[117] A more detailed section about the bilateral dialogue can be found in F. Stephen Larabee & Ian O.Lesser, Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty, Arlington, VA., RAND Publications, 2003, pp.76-77.

[118] See Macedonian Press Agency, News in English, <>, 12 February 2002.

[119] Macedonian Press Agency, Year in Review 2002: Turkey, <>, date accessed 8 April 2005.

[120] Gulden Ayman, op.cit., p. 235.

[121] European Commission, 2002 Regular Report from the Commission on Turkey’s Progress Towards Accession, <>, 9 October 2002.

[122] Note: The AKP’s leader was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however he was not allowed to assume the position of prime minister following the 2002 elections because of a conviction over seditions charges which excluded him from participating in parliament or any government position. Erdogan was finally cleared of the charges and sworn in as Prime Minister of Turkey in March 2003.

[123] F. Stephen Larabee & Ian O.Lesser, op.cit., pp.76-77.

[124] See Tozun Bahcelli, ‘Turning a New Page in Turkey’s Relations with Greece? The Challenge of Reconciling Vital Interests’, in M. Aydin & K. Ifantis, Turkish-Greek Relations: The Security Dilemma in the Aegean, London, Routledge, 2004, pp. 111-117 for more information on the proposed Annan Plan.

[125] Greece took over the Presidency of the European Union from Denmark, on January 1, 2003. The EU’s rotating presidency rotates among its member states every 6 months.

[126] For the Copenhagen Criteria and other accession criteria set out by the European Union, see European Commission, Enlargement-A Historic Opportunity, <>, date accessed 15 April 2005.

[127] Athens News Agency, News in English, <>, 12 February 2002.

[128] The ten countries accepted to become members of the EU in 2004 included the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus.

[129] Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, ‘The Changing Role of the EU Factor in Greek-Turkish Relations’, London School of Economics and Political Science: Hellenic Observatory, 1st Symposium on Modern Greece, 21 June 2003, p.4.

[130] See paragraph 10 in European Council, Copenhagen European Council Presidency Conclusions, <>, 29 January 2003.

[131] Ibid., paragraph 18 and 19.

[132] Kostas Ifantis, ‘Strategic Imperatives and Regional Upheavals: On the US Factor in Greek-Turkish Relations’, in Ali Carkoglu & Barry Rubin (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations in an Era of Detente, London, Routledge, 2005, p.37.