The Republic of Turkey, since its foundation, has followed international developments closely with a view to reaching the status of modern civilizations and became member of international organizations such as OECD and NATO. The European Economic Community (EEC), which is described as the greatest peace project of mankind, was established in 1958. Shortly after its establishment, Turkey made its first application to join in July 1959.
Upon Turkey’s application, on the grounds that Turkey’s development level was not sufficient to fulfil the responsibilities of full membership, the EEC proposed the signature of an association agreement until Turkey is ready. This agreement was signed in Ankara on 12 September 1963.
In Ankara Agreement, three phases, namely, preparation, transition and final periods were envisaged for Turkey’s integration to the EEC. Preparation period ended in 1973 upon entry into force of the Additional Protocol and transition period started. The transition period, which proceeded slowly due to economic hardship in the 1970s and military coup in 1980, was finally completed with Turkey’s accession to the Customs Union in 1996.
During the Summit held in Helsinki on 10-11 December 1999, Turkey’s candidacy for full membership was officially recognized. Therefore, a new chapter was opened in the long-established Turkey-EU relations. Brussels Summit dated 15 December 2004 became a watershed as Turkey’s fulfilment of Copenhagen criteria sufficiently was declared and launch of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005 was proposed. Accession negotiations started on the mentioned date and the work for alignment with the EU acquis is ongoing.