Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Turkey timeline

A chronology of key events:

1923 - Assembly declares Turkey a republic and Kemal Ataturk as president.

Istanbul skyline and Bosphorous ferry
Istanbul: Europe meets Asia in Turkey's largest city
Former capital of Byzantine, Ottoman empires
1930: Constantinople officially renamed Istanbul
Population: 9.4 million

1928 - Turkey becomes secular: clause retaining Islam as state religion removed from constitution.

1925 - Adoption of Gregorian calendar. Prohibition of the fez.

1938 - President Ataturk dies, succeeded by Ismet Inonu.

1945 - Neutral for most of World War II, Turkey declares war on Germany and Japan, but does not take part in combat. Joins United Nations.

1950 - Republic's first open elections, won by opposition Democratic Party.

Military coups

1952 - Turkey abandons Ataturk's neutralist policy and joins Nato.

1960 - Army coup against ruling Democratic Party.

1961 - New constitution establishes two-chamber parliament.

1963 - Association agreement signed with European Economic Community (EEC).

Reenactment of Ottoman soldiers parading
Ottoman Empire: multi-ethnic state lasting more than 600 years
Developed in late 13th century
Extended into south-east Europe, north Africa, Middle East
Replaced by Turkish Republic in 1922

1965 - Suleyman Demirel becomes prime minister - a position he is to hold seven times.

1971 - Army forces Demirel's resignation after spiral of political violence.

1974 - Turkish troops invade northern Cyprus.

1976 - Earthquake kills more than 5,000 people in western Van province.

1978 - US trade embargo resulting from invasion lifted.

1980 - Military coup follows political deadlock and civil unrest. Imposition of martial law.

1982 - New constitution creates seven-year presidency, and reduces parliament to single house.

1983 - General election won by Turgut Ozal's Motherland Party (ANAP).

PKK war

1984 - Turkey recognises "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus."

Kurdistan Workers' Party launches separatist guerrilla war in southeast.

Founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk
Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish republic
Born in 1881
President from 1923
Died in 1938

1987 - Turkey applies for full EEC membership.

1990 - Turkey allows US-led coalition against Iraq to launch air strikes from Turkish bases.

1992 - 20,000 Turkish troops enter Kurdish safe havens in Iraq in anti-PKK operation.

Turkey joins Black Sea alliance.

1993 - Tansu Ciller becomes Turkey's first woman prime minister, and Demirel elected president.

Ceasefire with PKK breaks down.

1995 - Major military offensive launched against the Kurds in northern Iraq, involving some 35,000 Turkish troops.

Ciller coalition collapses. Pro-Islamist Welfare Party wins elections but lacks support to form government - two major centre-right parties form anti-Islamist coalition.

Turkey enters EU customs union.

1996 - Centre-right coalition falls. Welfare Party leader Necmettin Erbakan heads first pro-Islamic government since 1923.

1997 - Coalition resigns after campaign led by the military, replaced by a new coalition led by the centre-right Motherland Party of Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, pictured after his arrest
Jailed: Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan

1998 January - Welfare Party - the largest in parliament - banned. Yilmaz resigns amid corruption allegations, replaced by Bulent Ecevit.

1999 February - PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan captured in Kenya.

1999 July - Ocalan receives death sentence, later commuted to life imprisonment.

1999 August - Devastating earthquake with epicentre at Izmit in Turkey's heavily populated northwest kills 17,000 people.

1999 November - Second quake in same region kills hundreds more.

Into the new millennium

2000 - Ahmet Necdet Sezer takes over from Suleyman Demirel as president.

2001 January - Diplomatic row with France after French National Assembly recognises the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

2001 May - European Court of Human Rights finds Turkey guilty of violating the rights of Greek Cypriots during its occupation of northern Cyprus.

2001 June - Constitutional Court bans opposition pro-Islamic Virtue Party, saying it had become focus of anti-secular activities. New pro-Islamist party Saadet is set up by former Virtue Party members in July.

2001 November - British construction firm Balfour Beatty and Impregilo of Italy pull out of the controversial Ilisu dam project. Swiss bank UBS follows suit in February 2002.

Banner reading 'Europe in Turkey, Turkey in Europe' in Istanbul
Talks on EU entry could take years

2002 January - Turkish men are no longer regarded in law as head of the family. The move gives women full legal equality with men, 66 years after women's rights were put on the statute books.

2002 March - Turkish and Greek governments agree to build a gas pipeline along which Turkey will supply Greece with gas.

2002 July - Pressure for early elections as eight ministers including Foreign Minister Cem resign over ailing PM Ecevit's refusal to step down amid growing economic, political turmoil. Cem launches new party committed to social democracy, EU membership.

2002 August - Parliament approves reforms aimed at securing EU membership. Death sentence to be abolished except in times of war and bans on Kurdish education, broadcasting to be lifted.

Islamist party victorious

2002 November - Islamist-based Justice and Development Party (AK) wins landslide election victory. Party promises to stick to secular principles of constitution. Deputy leader Abdullah Gul appointed premier.

Turkish woman reads the Koran in a mosque
Secularists see headscarves as symbols of radical Islam

2002 December - Constitutional changes allow head of ruling AK, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to run for parliament, and so to become prime minister. He had been barred from public office because of previous criminal conviction.

2003 March - AK leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins seat in parliament. Within days Abdullah Gul resigns as prime minister and Erdogan takes over.

Parliament decides not to allow deployment of US forces ahead of war in Iraq but allows US use of Turkish air space. It authorises dispatch of Turkish forces into Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

2003 May - More than 160 people, many of them schoolchildren trapped in a dormitory, die in an earthquake in the Bingol area.

2003 June-July - Eyeing future EU membership, parliament passes laws easing restrictions on freedom of speech, Kurdish language rights, and on reducing political role of military.

Istanbul attacks

2003 November - 25 people are killed and more than 200 injured when two car bombs explode near Istanbul's main synagogue. Days later two co-ordinated suicide bombings at the British consulate and a British bank in the city kill 28 people.

2004 January - Turkey signs protocol banning death penalty in all circumstances, a move welcomed in EU circles.

Spice market, Istanbul
Istanbul's historic spice market - one of the city's main bazaars

2004 February - More than 60 people killed when apartment block in city of Konya collapses.

2004 March - At least two people killed in a suspected suicide attack on a building housing a Masonic lodge in Istanbul.

2004 May - PKK says it plans to end a ceasefire because of what it calls annihilation operations against its forces.

2004 June - State TV broadcasts first Kurdish-language programme.

Four Kurdish activists, including former MP Leyla Zana, freed from jail.

Nato heads of state gather for summit in Istanbul.

2004 July - Three die in car bomb attack in southeastern town of Van. Authorities accuse the PKK of involvement which it denies.

2004 September - Parliament approves penal reforms introducing tougher measures to prevent torture and violence against women. Controversial proposal on criminalising adultery dropped.

EU talks

Turkish Cypriot soldiers on parade, 2005
Turkey maintains troops in breakaway northern Cyprus

2004 December - EU leaders agree to open talks in 2005 on Turkey's EU accession. The decision, made at a summit in Brussels, follows a deal over an EU demand that Turkey recognise Cyprus as an EU member.

2005 January - New lira currency introduced as six zeroes are stripped from old lira, ending an era in which banknotes were denominated in millions.

2005 May - Parliament approves amendments to new penal code after complaints that the previous version restricted media freedom. The EU welcomes the move but says the code still fails to meet all its concerns on human rights.

2005 June - Parliament overturns veto by secularist President Sezer on government-backed amendment easing restrictions on teaching of Koran.

2005 July - Six killed in bomb attack on a train in the east. Officials blame the PKK.

Victory Day parade, Istanbul, 2006
Turkey's army is the second largest in Nato after the US

2005 October - EU membership negotiations officially launched after intense bargaining.

2005 November - Multi-billion-dollar Blue Stream pipeline carrying Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey opens in the port of Samsun.

2006 April - At least a dozen people are killed in clashes between Kurdish protesters and security forces in the south-east. Several people are killed in related unrest in Istanbul.

2006 May - Gunman opens fire in Turkey's highest court, killing a prominent judge and wounding four others. Thousands protest against what they perceive as an Islamic fundamentalist attack.

2006 June - Parliament passes new anti-terror law which worries the EU and which rights groups criticise as an invitation to torture.

2006 July - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline opened at ceremony in Turkey.

Funeral procession of murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, 2007
Murder of journalist Hrant Dink shocked Turkey

2006 August-September - Bombers target resorts and Istanbul. Shadowy separatist group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAC) claims responsibility for some attacks and warns it will turn "Turkey into hell".

2006 30 September - Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, declares a unilateral ceasefire in operations against the military.

2006 December - EU partially freezes Turkey's membership talks because of Ankara's failure to open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic.

2007 January - Journalist and Armenian community leader Hrant Dink is assassinated. The murder provokes outrage in Turkey and Armenia. Prime Minister Erdogan says a bullet has been fired at democracy and freedom of expression.

Secularist protests

2007 April - Tens of thousands of supporters of secularism rally in Ankara, aiming to pressure Prime Minister Erdogan not to run in presidential elections because of his Islamist background.

Ruling AK party puts forward Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as its candidate after Mr Erdogan decides not to stand. He narrowly fails to win in the first round.

2007 May - Parliament brings forward national elections to 22 July to try end the standoff between secularists and Islamists over the choice of the next president.

Parliament gives initial approval to a constitutional change allowing the president to be elected by a popular vote, but the amendment is vetoed by President Sezer.

Islamic demonstrators protest against a head scarf ban in Istanbul, Turkey, 6 June
The headscarf issue divides religious and secularist Turks

Tension mounts on Turkey-Iraq border amid speculation that Turkey may launch an incursion to tackle Kurdish rebels.

Bomb blast in Ankara kills six and injures 100. PKK denies responsibility.

2007 July - AK Party wins parliamentary elections.

2007 August - Abdullah Gul is elected president.

2007 October - Diplomatic row with United States after a US congressional committee recognises the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Parliament gives go-ahead for military operations in Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels.

Voters in a referendum back plans to have future presidents elected by the people instead of by parliament.

2007 December - Turkey launches a series of air strikes on fighters from the Kurdish PKK movement inside Iraq.

Headscarf dispute

2008 February - Thousands protest at plans to allow women to wear the Islamic headscarf to university.

Parliament approves constitutional amendments which will pave the way for women to be allowed to wear the Islamic headscarf in universities.

Supporters of the alleged nationalist Ergenekon plotters protest  demonstrate outside the court building
Turkey has been riven by allegations of anti-government conspiracies

2008 July - Petition to the constitutional court to have the governing AK Party banned for allegedly undermining the secular constitution fails by a narrow margin.

2008 October - Trial starts of 86 suspected members of a shadowy ultra-nationalist Ergenekon group, which is accused of plotting a series of attacks and provoking a military coup against the government.

2009 February - Protesters marking the 10th anniversary of the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the banned Kurdish PKK movement, clash with police in south-east Turkey.

Prominent Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk defies Turkish law by giving speech to parliament in his native Kurdish. State TV cuts live broadcast, as the language is banned in parliament.

2009 June - Trial starts of a further 56 people in connection with the alleged ultra-nationalist Ergenekon plot to bring down the government.

2009 July - President Abdullah Gul approves legislation proposed by the ruling AK Party giving civilian courts the power to try military personnel for threatening national security or involvement in organised crime.

PM Tayyip Erdogan holds a rare meeting with the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, Ahmet Turk, as part of efforts to solve the Kurdish problem politically.


Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandian (front L) shakes hands with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Turkey and Armenia began edging towards a restoration of ties in 2009

2009 October - The governments of Turkey and Armenia agree to normalise relations at a meeting in Switzerland. Both parliaments will need to ratify the accord. Turkey says opening the border will depend on progress on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

2009 December - The government introduces measures in parliament to increase Kurdish language rights and reduce the military presence in the mainly-Kurdish southeast as part of its "Kurdish initiative". The Constitutional Court considers whether to ban the Democratic Society Party over alleged links to the PKK, in a move that could derail the initiative.

2010 January - Newspaper carries report on alleged 2003 "Sledgehammer" plot to destabilise country and justify military coup. Head of armed forces, Gen Ilker Basbug, insists that coups are a thing of the past.

2010 February - Nearly 70 members of the military are arrested over alleged "Sledgehammer" plot. Thirty-three officers are charged with conspiring to overthrow government.

2010 March - US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee passes resolution describing killing of Armenians by Turkish forces in World War I as genocide, prompting Ankara to recall its ambassador briefly.

Constitutional reform

2010 April - Parliament begins debating constitutional changes proposed by the government with the stated aim of making Turkey more democratic. The opposition Republican People's Party says the Islamist ruling party is seeking more control over the secular judiciary with some of the proposals.

2010 May - Relations with Israel come under severe strain after nine Turkish activists are killed in an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla attempting to reach blockaded Gaza.

2010 July - Istanbul court indicts 196 people, including serving and former senior military officers, accused of plotting to overthrow the government as part of the alleged anti-Islamist Ergenekon organisation.

PKK leader Murat Karayilan says it is willing to disarm in return for greater political and cultural rights for Turkey's Kurds. Turkey refuses to comment.

Kurdish rebels
PKK military leaders
The PKK - Kurdistan Workers Party - is a rebel group fighting for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey
Founded in 1974. Took up arms against Turkey in 1984
More than 40,000 people have been killed in conflict
Listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, US and EU
Since his capture, founder Abdullah Ocalan has encouraged quest for Kurdish rights via political rather than military means
Government has lifted some restrictions on Kurdish cultural and political rights to try to end conflict
Kurds say restrictions and mass arrests of Kurdish politicians have continued

2010 September - Referendum on constitutional reform backs amendments to increase parliamentary control over the army and judiciary. Critics see it as attempt by the pro-Islamic government to appoint sympathetic judges.

2010 October - Trial of 151 people accused of links to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) begins in south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.

2010 November - The whistle-blowing website Wikileaks publishes confidential cables revealing that France and Austria have been deliberately blocking Turkey's EU membership negotiations.

2011 January - The EU's Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele voices frustration at slow pace of talks on Turkish membership.

2011 June - Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wins resounding victory in general election. PM Erdogan embarks on third term in office.

Thousands of refugees fleeing unrest in Syria stream into Turkey. Ankara demands reform in Syria.

2011 August - President Gul appoints top military leaders after their predecessors resign en masse. This is the first time a civilian government has decided who commands the powerful armed forces.

Turkey launches retaliatory military strikes against alleged Kurdish rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq.

2011 October - PKK rebels kill 24 Turkish troops near the Iraqi border, the deadliest attack against the military since the 1990s.

Iran, Turkey agree to co-operate to defeat Kurdish militants.

Tensions with France

2011 December - Relations with Paris are soured after French MPs pass bill making it a criminal offence to deny that the mass killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide. Though the bill has the backing of President Sarkozy and is approved by the French Senate, it is later struck down by France's Constitutional Court, which rules that it infringes on freedom of expression.

2012 January - A court jails three people for incitement over the 2007 killing of prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, one of them for life. The verdict prompts protests that no one has been convicted of the killing and allegations of state collusion in Mr Dink's death.

2012 March - Former armed forces chief Gen Ilker Basbug goes on trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

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