The Turkish flag (Photo: EUobserver.com)

The EU summit in Copenhagen in December 2002 made Turkey a pre-accession country. From 1st January 2004, Turkey receive pre-accession assistance even though Turkey's fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria will only be finally judged by the European Council in December 2004.

Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the EC in 1963. In 1987 Turkey applied for EC membership and finally got a Europe Agreement in 1991. The customs union between the EC and Turkey was completed in 1995. The Commission introduced a pre-accession strategy for Turkey in 2000 and in 2001 an Accession Partnership with Turkey is established.

Turkey has 610,000 soldiers and is eighth on the list of the world’s largest armies, far larger than all EU countries. In December 2002, Turkey accepted that the EU may use NATO assets for EU military purposes.

The future

Turkish membership of the EU has been rejected by the Convention President Giscard d`Estaing and other leading Christian Democrat politicians.

The Turkish population is expected to grow from 69.2 million from 2000 to 2005 to 78.4 million in 2010 to 2015 and 86.2 million in 2020 to 25. This would then make it the largest EU Member State.