In the firstinstance, grave shortcomings in Turkish democracy were faulted, and herein lied themain obstacle to Turkey’s accession. Consequently, the EU made clear at its Luxembourgsummit in December 1997 that the way to Europe for Ankara leads over the observance of human rights, and the peaceful solution of the Kurdish question and of the disputes with Greece and Cyprus.
Despite Ankara’s lacking initiative in the matter of democratization, the European Council recognized for the firsttime at its Helsinki summit in December 1999 its capability of membership and reassured at the same time that Turkey could reckon with the steady start of accession talks after compliance with the so-called Copenhagen criteria. Helsinki brought Turkey both a breakthrough in its relations with the EU and a new dynamic in the process of democratization. Whereas just a short time before the Helsinki resolution only Kurds and intellectuals had demanded more democracy, from then on the Turkish public supported their calls.
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Published in Orient I / 2014.