Turkey’s EU membership process at the point of no return

thumbnail3.jpeg Foreign Minister and Chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan reiterated Turkey’s determination to enter the European Union on Thursday, just a day after Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission meeting at the Turkish Parliament, where he promised Turkey will certainly meet EU acquis and accomplish required reforms.

Babacan and Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema participated the Fourth Turkish-Italian Forum in Istanbul.

Speaking at the Forum Babacan said “The EU will become a real global power after it admits Turkey into the union. Turkey has always been a part of Europe’s history, politics and cultural geography. Accordingly, those who are against Turkey’s EU membership cannot change the natural dynamics of the geography.”

“I believe that a Europe that carries the brightness of the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods must let in the light and colors of other cultures,” he noted. “Turkey’s EU membership will cause universal attention.”

Babacan claimed Turkey’s EU membership process is now at a point of no return. “Turkey is aware of the fact that the EU membership process is a long one with many difficulties. However, we are also aware that Europe will not reach a balance without Turkish membership and we are confident that Turkey’s membership process will end successfully,” he explained.

“There could be certain obstacles placed before Turkey after the negotiations began. We expect our friends to help Turkey overcome challenges, and Italy has provided a consistent support to Turkey in its EU process” Babacan stated. “We are confident that Italy’s support for Turkey will continue in the future. Italy’s support for Turkey has won the hearts of millions of Turks.”

Regarding the relations between Turkey and Italy Babacan said “Bilateral relations have been advancing on sound grounds. Turkey and Italy are the two allied countries. The two nations share humane and democratic values.”

“Sound political relations between the two countries also boost cultural and commercial relations. The number of Italian companies investing in Turkey has exceeded 450,” he continued. Babacan said Italy extended great support to Blue Stream natural gas pipeline project carrying Russian natural gas through Black Sea to Turkey. On the other hand, Caspian natural gas would be transported to Europe through Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas inter connector, he said.

Turkish-Italian Forum would enhance the relationship between the two countries, Babacan added.

On his part D’Alema said “Turkey faces terrorist attacks that cannot be accepted in any case. The terrorist attacks on Turkey must be dealt with an approach of stability and self-control. Turkey is struggling against terrorists as a real democratic country.”

“We have decided to hold annual summits between the two governments. Italy has such special relations with only a few countries in the world,” D’Alema explained. “We have common strategic interests. Such a statement is not merely a rhetoric. We have common economic, social, political and cultural interests.”

D’Alema praised Turkey’s role in the Middle East. “We must not forget that Turkey has good relations with all countries in the Middle East. Italy has a goal to establish good relations with both Israel and Palestine,” he explained. “Turkey is an important country not only for the Middle East but worldwide. Turkey has become a country that many consult to and want to work together with.”

“Turkey portrays important, balanced and responsible acts in strategic areas. When it becomes an European Union member, Turkey’s acts would contribute to the union,” D’Alema stated. “It is a necessity for the EU to expand by letting Turkey in. This way, the EU would benefit, as far as security and regional stability is concerned. The Italians have a positive view on Turkey’s membership.”

“An open-minded Europe must definitely let Turkey enter the union. We have joint goals and are walking down the same path towards welfare. We are in the same civilization,” D’Alema said. “Turkey is on its way to become a global power. Membership in the EU would contribute to Turkey’s global role.”

Regarding the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, D’Alema said that “it is a symbolic article which we hope will be amended.”

Babacan and D’Alema signed a joint declaration on opening of Italian university in Istanbul.

Following the forum Babacan and D’Alema held a joint press conference. Babacan told reporters that Turkish and Italian parliamentarians, businessmen, academicians, press members and representatives of non-governmental organizations convened for the forum. He added that participants exchanged views about political, cultural and economic issues during the forum.

They discussed regional and international issues with D’Alema, Babacan said and added that they share the same views about further development of the comprehensive cooperation between Turkey and Italy in areas of economy, commerce, culture, tourism and defense. Babacan said stance of Turkey and Italy towards problems in Middle East as well as Iraq, Lebanon, Israeli-Palestinian issues are similar.

At the press conference D’Alema said Italy wants “open doors” policy to be an EU policy. He added that Italy wants EU accession talks with Turkey to be speeded up in the light of Progress Report.

He said that commerce between Turkey and Italy is over 15 billion USD and growing rapidly, proving the strong relations between the two countries.

D’Alema said that he, together with Babacan, will attend Annapolis Conference which will be held in the end of November. He defined the conference as a journey of hope. D’Alema said that they support Israeli state’s presence and territorial integrity as well as the cause of Palestine.

Afterwards Babacan and D’Alema also had a tete-a-tete meeting in Conrad Hotel which was closed to press and lasted for nearly an hour.


The New Anatolian

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