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Türkiye’s EU Journey: Historical Foundations and the Ankara Agreement

Türkiye’s EU Journey: Historical Foundations and the Ankara Agreement

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first installment of our exciting blog series on Türkiye’s long and challenging journey with the European Union. In this series, we’ll explore Türkiye’s EU candidacy process in detail, covering key events, agreements, and milestones in chronological order. Let’s dive right into our first chapter: “Historical Foundations and the Ankara Agreement (1963)”.

Setting the Stage: The Cold War Era

In 1963, the world was in the midst of the Cold War. This was a period marked by intense geopolitical tension between the East and the West. Türkiye, strategically positioned as a bridge between these two spheres, aimed to strengthen its economic growth and security. Given its unique position, Türkiye sought to establish closer ties with Europe, leading to a significant development in Türkiye-EU relations.

The Ankara Agreement: A Milestone in Türkiye-EU Relations

To strengthen their relations, Türkiye and the European Economic Community (EEC) signed the Ankara Agreement on September 12, 1963. This agreement was a monumental step for Turkey, reflecting its aspirations to integrate more closely with Europe. The Ankara Agreement aimed at fostering economic cooperation and ensuring security, which were the agreement’s main pillars. But what did this agreement actually include?

The Ankara Agreement

The Ankara Agreement set forth a comprehensive roadmap for Türkiye’s economic integration with the EEC. It outlined a three-phase process to align Türkiye’s economy with the European market. 

  • Preparatory Phase: This initial phase focused on strengthening Türkiye’s economic structure. It included financial aid and technical support from the EEC to help Türkiye build a robust economic foundation. This phase was crucial for preparing Türkiye to meet the challenges of deeper economic integration.
  • Transitional Phase: The second phase aimed at gradually reducing customs duties between Türkiye and the EEC. This step was designed to facilitate free trade, enhance economic cooperation, and allow Turkish goods easier access to European markets. The transitional phase marked a significant shift towards closer economic ties.
  • Final Phase: The ultimate goal of this phase was to achieve a customs union between Türkiye and the EEC. This meant eliminating all remaining trade barriers and harmonizing Türkiye’s economic policies with those of the EEC. The customs union was seen as a critical step towards Türkiye’s full membership in the European Union.

The Significance of the Ankara Agreement

The Ankara Agreement was Türkiye’s first major step towards EU membership, setting the stage for future developments in Türkiye-EU relations. It provided a clear framework for Turkey’s economic and political reforms, aligning its policies with European standards. This agreement not only symbolized Türkiye’s commitment to European integration but also highlighted the EEC’s interest in fostering strong ties with Türkiye.

Reflecting on the Journey

As we reflect on the significance of the Ankara Agreement, it’s essential to recognize the long-term impact it had on Türkiye-EU relations. This agreement laid the groundwork for Türkiye’s ongoing efforts to integrate with Europe, shaping the trajectory of its EU candidacy. It also underscored the mutual benefits of economic cooperation and political alignment between Türkiye and the European Union.

What’s Next?

That wraps up our first chapter on the historical foundations and the Ankara Agreement. But don’t worry, there’s much more to come! In the next episode, we’ll explore the period between 1995-1999, covering the establishment of the Customs Union and Türkiye’s official candidacy for EU membership. This period marks another significant chapter in Türkiye’s EU journey, highlighting the progress and challenges encountered along the way.

Stay tuned for more insights and updates on Türkiye’s EU journey!