In 1998 Turkey formed a free trade area with the Turkish north of Cyprus. In the Greek-Turkish conflict over Cyprus and in the controversy over sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea, Turkey and Greece have been trying harder to achieve reconciliation since 1998/99; In 2004, however, a UN plan for the reunification of Cyprus was rejected by the Greek Cypriot population in a referendum. In the course of rapprochement with the EU, relations between Turkey and Greece improved despite the unresolved Cyprus issue. In 2010, both sides concluded numerous cooperation agreements and agreed on regular meetings at the highest level.
In the war against terrorism (since 2001), NATO member Turkey gained increasing strategic importance. During the Iraq War (March / April 2003) Turkey gave the US troops logistical support, including: by opening the airspace for overflight, but refused to provide military bases for the deployment of ground troops. She promised not to undertake an invasion of northern Iraq (to prevent a Kurdish state), but was ready to provide humanitarian aid. In 2009, Abdullah Gül was the first Turkish head of state to visit Iraq in 33 years.
From February to August 2005, Turkey took command of the NATO force ISAF in Afghanistan. On September 5, 2006, the Turkish parliament decided to participate in the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In addition, Turkey provided UNIFIL with two seaports and two military airports. Fore more information about Turkey and Middle East, please visit ezinesports.
Time and again, Turkey, which has had a customs union with the European Union (EU) since January 1, 1996, criticized its partial rejection of the Turkish wish for full EU membership. At the end of 1999 it was granted candidate status and thus became an applicant country with equal rights for EU enlargement recognized (Accession Partnership Agreement of December 2000, in force from March 2001). At the beginning of August 2002, a reform package was adopted to meet the criteria for starting EU accession negotiations (including the abolition of the death penalty). In 2003 further reforms were made, v. a. with a view to reducing the political influence of the military by the National Security Council. In 2005 the EU finally started accession negotiations. The negotiations suffered from criticism by the EU Commission of the slowed pace of reform and the dissent on the Cyprus question. In the enlargement report of October 14, 2009, the EU Commission confirmed that Turkey had made progress, particularly in holding democratic elections, reforming the judiciary and safeguarding cultural rights. But she also called for reforms, among other things. in the areas of opinion, Freedom of the press and religion, women’s rights and civil control over the military. In 2010 the EU opened the twelfth of 35 chapters of the accession negotiations, the chapter on food safety. Eight chapters alone have been postponed because of the Cyprus conflict. After disputes with the EU over the violent repression of the Turkish government against demonstrators in May / June 2013, the opening of the chapter on regional policy, originally planned for June 2013, was postponed. Negotiations were resumed in November 2013. In 2015, the EU endeavored in talks with Turkey, which had developed into the main transit country for refugees from Syria to the EU states, to find joint measures to deal with the refugee crisis. In autumn 2015 there were over 2 million refugees in Turkey. On November 29, 2015, a special meeting between the heads of state and government of the EU and Turkey took place in Brussels, at which an action plan to overcome the refugee problem was put into effect. With regard to possible EU accession, a progress report by the EU Commission in the same month stated a negative development with regard to the rule of law. Nonetheless, on December 14, 2015, another negotiating chapter (economic and monetary policy) in the EU accession process was opened in Brussels. With the agreed on March 18, 2016 on which an action plan to overcome the refugee problem was put into effect. With regard to possible EU accession, a progress report by the EU Commission in the same month stated a negative development with regard to the rule of law. Nonetheless, on December 14, 2015, another negotiating chapter (economic and monetary policy) in the EU accession process was opened in Brussels. With the agreed on March 18, 2016 on which an action plan to overcome the refugee problem was put into effect. With regard to possible EU accession, a progress report by the EU Commission in the same month stated a negative development with regard to the rule of law. Nonetheless, on December 14, 2015, another negotiating chapter (economic and monetary policy) in the EU accession process was opened in Brussels. With the agreed on March 18, 2016 EU-Turkey agreement , further steps to solve the migration and refugee crisis were decided. The restrictive domestic political measures taken by the Erdoğan government after the failed coup in July 2016 put a heavy strain on EU-Turkey relations. The accession negotiations have since been on hold.
Turkey also came into conflict with NATO in 2019 with the purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system, which is considered the best currently available. The USA feared that Russia, for example, could gain insight into the functioning of NATO weapons and access to NATO data through maintenance. They threatened sanctions.
More than 90 years after the massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915/16, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols for the resumption of diplomatic relations on October 10, 2009 with the mediation of Switzerland. However, it was initially not ratified. In 2011, the French National Assembly passed a law punishing denial of the Turkish genocide against the Armenians. Turkey then withdrew its ambassador and suspended military cooperation between the two countries. In 2016 the German Bundestag determined that the expulsion and murder of the Armenians in 1915 had been genocide. The decision put a considerable strain on German-Turkish relations.
In the wake of the upheavals in the Arab states, Turkey tried in 2011 to strengthen its foreign policy influence in the region. The Turkish government welcomed the political change in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and resolutely opposed the bloody suppression of the democracy movement in neighboring Syria by the Assad regime. After Syrian and Turkish troops fired artillery at each other in October 2012, Turkey asked NATO to support them with “Patriot” missile defense systems. The systems were stationed in 2013. Turkey took part in international talks to resolve the Syria conflict in October and November 2015, respectively in Vienna. In order to prevent the expansion of the Kurdish sphere of influence and to fight IS, Turkey intervened militarily in northern Syria in 2016. From 2016, summits of the countries Turkey, Russia and Iran took place, which endeavored to establish a common Syria policy, although they pursued very different goals. In 2018, Turkey expanded its offensive in the Syrian Kurdish regions. Ankara ruled an area around the city of Afrin. According to observers, the aim was to prevent an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria.
The downing of a Russian fighter plane by the Turkish air force in November 2015 in the Syrian border region led to serious upheavals in Turkish-Russian relations, which President Erdoğan agreed to revive at a summit meeting with Russian President Putin in St. Petersburg in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to strengthen military and intelligence cooperation. In 2019, Russia delivered an S-400 air defense system to Turkey, the largest armaments deal between a NATO state and Russia.