Cross-Border Cooperation: Greece and Turkey

The case of Thrace

Term Paper 2010 13 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Miscellaneous



A. Introduction

B. Theoretical Framework

C. Cross-Border Cooperation in Thrace

D. Cross-border cooperation under Interreg IIIA

E. Conclusion


A. Introduction

In this paper will be examined the cross-border cooperation between Greece and Turkey and more specifically the cross-border region of Thrace will be analyzed in detail. The case of the Greek-Turkish cross-border region is becoming more interesting than other cross-border regions, since Greece is a member of EU from 1981 and Turkey is a candidate member since 2005, that is to say the cross-border area in between these countries consists of the external borders of the EU with a potential member state of EU. Furthermore, the region of Thrace (Western Thrace for Greece and Eastern Thrace for Turkey) not only consists of an important region in geopolitical terms for both of the countries, but also the current situation of cross- border cooperation in this particular region represents and in to some extend explains with the most concrete way the prevailed situation of cross-border cooperation in the whole cross- border area of Greece and Turkey, including the border region of the Aegean Sea with coastal Turkey, the sea borders between these countries. Namely, it is indicative that the region of Thrace participated in Interreg IIIA but was excluded in Interreg IV, fact that complexes the cross-border cooperation and will be analyzed in detail in the following chapters.

Before analyzing the case of Thrace, it is essential to mention that Greece and Turkey have long history of conflict, which goes back to the dissolution of Ottoman Empire and the formation of the Greek independent state. Currently, there is no military conflict but there are still political matters that are questioned form the one or the other side. The disputable sea borders, the air space, the FIR of Athens and the minorities in both of the countries are some of the 'open' and questioned issues that worsen potential cross-border cooperation in a successful way. In specific, in the case of Thrace, the Turkish minority in the Greek part of Thrace plays an important role for cross-border cooperation and can be considered as a parameter that is responsible for the current situation of non actual cooperation.

B. Theoretical Framework

The Greek-Turkish cross-border cooperation and eventually this particularly borderland can be understood under three main theoretical approaches: the model of successful cross-border cooperation by Emmanuel Brunet-Jaily, the approach that states coexist with the notions of territory and identity by Thomas M.Wilson and Hastings Donnan and the borderland typology by Oscar J.Martinez.

Emmanuel Brunet-Jaily attempts to analyze the elements of a successful cross-border cooperation, which can be seen in the following figure. In short, the market forces, the policy activities, the local cross-border culture and the local cross-border political clout are highly interconnected and their presence in a certain border region lead to a successful cooperation.

Figure 1 A theory of Borderland studies[1]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

In detail the market forces can be seen as the necessary incentive for further policies initiated by different levels of governance (supranational, national, local) - whether multi-level governance exists- and stimulate the creation of a local cross-border culture or overcome different cultures - in case of non-presence of a common culture in border region. Lastly, the active local cross-border political clout is essential for the completion of successful cross border cooperation. In this particular theory, the presence of all four of the lenses is necessary, which furthermore are connected and create a kind of a circle.

Thomas Wilson and Hastings Donnan argue that borders can not be alienated with the study of states and the states are connected with the notions of territory and identity. The borders not only function as a limit to the state defining what is inside and outside but more lead to a comparative coherence of the nation. Moreover, they argue that a separation of state and society is misguided since states are fuelled and implemented by various societies, groups, organizations and institutions of people and also states are built societies[2]. In respect to that states and societies are highly related and also states and their borders, where borderlands and their people are products of state and nation constructions[3].

According to Martinez's typology of borderlands the case of Greek-Turkish cross-border region is likely close to the "Alienated Borderlands" category. This category embraces these 'sensitive' borderlands, where tension prevails, which are responsible for the absence of cross-border cooperation in practice. Although the Greek-Turkish cross-border area is not a warfare area (it is arguable if it is a militarized area) is still under political disputes that lead time to time to expansions of nationalism by both sides. Therefore, a separation of the cross- border population occurs and actual cross-border cooperation is becoming more and more difficult.

Figure 2 Alienated Borderlands[4]


[1] Brunet-Jailly, Emmanuel, Theorizing Borders: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, in: Geopolitics, 10, 2005, pp. 633-649

[2] Wilson, Thomas and Donnan, Hastings, Culture and Power at the Edges of the State: National Support and Subversion in European Border Regions, Münster: Lit-Verlag 2005, pp.25

[3] Wilson, Thomas and Donnan, Hastings, Culture and Power at the Edges of the State: National Support and Subversion in European Border Regions, Münster: Lit-Verlag 2005, pp.25

[4] Schofield, Von Clive, Global boundaries, Chapter 1:The dynamics of border interaction, Martinez Oscar, UK, Routledge, 1994, pp.3


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University of Flensburg
Cross-Border Cooperation Greece Turkey Thrace




Title: Cross-Border Cooperation: Greece and Turkey