Turkey has always been, and will likely remain one of the most important countries for the European Union. It stands on a par with Russia in the neighbourhood, and, arguably, is as significant for the EU as such major global powers as the United States and China. Over the centuries, relations between Turkey and Europe were characterized by cooperation — for instance the deep economic and societal exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and the Italian city state of Venice in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries — as well as conflict — notably the Ottoman—Habsburg wars until the eighteenth century. These deep historical ties have formed the bedrock of equally deep political, economic, societal, cultural and military connections between Turkey and Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
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