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Past Event

European Union to Discuss Expanded Membership, Raising Thorny Issues of Cyprus and Turkey

This event was rescheduled from December 5 due to anticipated wintry weather. Please note new date and time.

The leaders of the European Union (EU) meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 12 and 13 to announce an historic enlargement of the organization, adding ten new central and eastern European nations with a combined population of 75 million people, the organization’s largest expansion ever. This move represents a further step toward consolidation of European stability, democracy, and peace, but also presents enormous challenges and raises questions about the future of the Union.

One of the most critical issues for EU leaders will be how to handle the delicate issues of membership for Cyprus and relations with Turkey. Since November 11, Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have been considering a UN-proposed plan for a political settlement of their longstanding dispute, but many issues remain unresolved. If a settlement is not reached by the time of the summit, the EU is likely to invite Cyprus to join anyway, effectively meaning exclusion of the Turkish Cypriot north and incorporation of the Greece-Turkey dispute into the EU.

Turkey, meanwhile, is hoping to obtain a date for beginning its own EU accession negotiations, the prospect of which may itself be dependent on the critical Cyprus talks. Whereas a successful Cyprus deal and agreement on Turkey-EU relations could resolve one of the EU’s thorniest problems and lead to unprecedented cooperation in the region, a failure on these fronts could undermine the new Turkish government and lead to instability at a critical time.

The panelists will discuss these and other difficult issues facing the upcoming EU meeting, and will answer questions from the audience.




James B. Steinberg

Former Brookings Expert

University Professor, Social Science, International Affairs, and Law - Maxwell School, Syracuse University



Henri Barkley

Chairman, Department of International Relations, Lehigh University; Former Member, State Department Policy Planning Staff

Philip H. Gordon

Former Brookings Expert

Mary and David Boies Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy - Council on Foreign Relations

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