Sunday, 16 October 2011

"Turkey will move toward membership despite EU's discouragement"

See the astounding arrogance in Bagis' remarks below. Turkey is like a persistent beggar who hassles you for cash while you're trying to enjoy a meal in an outdoors restaurant with friends, won't take no for an answer and constantly tries to convince you he would be doing you a favour by taking your money.
Although the European Union's approach toward membership candidate Turkey is not encouraging at all, Turkey will not lose its appetite and determination for full membership in the union, EU Minister Egemen Bağış has stated.

“The EU's attitude towards us is like a teacher who does not want his student to pass the class. The same attitude can be seen within the latest progress report, too,” Bağış said in an interview with the Aksiyon magazine, referring to the progress report on Turkey which was released by the European Commission last week.

The European Commission urged the EU to continue talks with Turkey, but said no progress had been achieved in the last year. It also expressed concern about tensions between Ankara and EU-member Greek Cyprus.

“However, we are no longer considering the EU as a teacher. Turkey is no longer a student that accepts a ‘well done' from the EU whenever it performs successfully. Whether they appreciate the reforms carried out in Turkey or not, we will continue making progress on the way in which we assume is the right way for us,” Bağış said.

The EU minister replied in the affirmative when asked whether it was possible to say “Turkey is becoming Europeanized despite the EU.”

As the EU talks drag on, Turkey has failed this year to open even one new chapter, or policy area, of the 35 that a candidate country must complete before it can join the bloc.

Turkey opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, but has been able to open talks on only 13 out of 35 chapters thus far. Talks have been provisionally completed only on one chapter. Eight chapters are blocked by the EU due to the Cyprus dispute, while France, which opposes Turkish membership, also blocked talks on five other chapters that it says are directly related to accession. France and Germany oppose Turkey's membership due to cultural differences, and many in the EU fear that Turkish accession will spark an influx of immigrants from Turkey.

“As a matter of fact, the latest progress report confirms that there has been progress at various levels on a majority of the chapters, even on chapters which have not been opened due to political reasons. This shows how Turkey is successful and resolute. Turkey is aware of its own experience, power and potential. It will continue making progress in this way,” Bağış reiterated.

According to Bağış, the EU, which has become weaker both politically and economically, needs new members, and Turkey, with its young population, can heal the problems stemming from Europe's steadily ageing population.

“While Europe's total economic growth was 1.5 percent in 2010 and as the growth of Germany, which has Europe's most successful economy, stood at 3 percent in 2010, Turkey's growth in the same year was 8.9 percent. While Europe is shrinking, Turkey is rapidly growing,” Bağış said.

The latest progress report by the European Commission appreciates Turkey's economic success, saying that Turkey's functioning market economy should be able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the union in the medium term, provided that it accelerates the implementation of its comprehensive structural reform program.

“In 2010, the Turkish economy grew by 8.9 percent vis-à-vis 2009, driven mainly by strong domestic demand. The rapid economic expansion continued in the first half of 2011. The private sector, in particular the industrial sector, remains the main driving force behind Turkey's rapid expansion. Robust economic development allowed strong employment growth and a sizeable drop in unemployment. Budget performance was better than expected, and the consolidation of public finances is on track. Privatization has gained momentum. Trade and economic integration with the EU remained high and Turkey strengthened its presence in new markets,” the report said.

Bağış, meanwhile, warned that the economic crisis in Europe was fueling extreme political parties, including racist parties. In an apparent reference to the rise of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, Bağış said this rise was related to the Dutch people's economic concerns.

“That is why Turkey wants to help Europe economically. We believe that we will have a partnership with Europe like we had in the past. So, we are ready to help Europe not to let it be dragged into extreme and racist waves,” Bağış said.

In October 2010, a minority Dutch coalition made up of Liberals and Christian Democrats took office, aiming to curb immigration in exchange for support for its austerity agenda from the anti-immigration Freedom Party. At the time, Turkey expressed concerns over the new government in the Netherlands, which has had to rely on an anti-Islam party, headed by anti-Islam leader Wilders, for support.

The Netherlands are among the countries that resist Turkey's full EU membership, and racist attacks against ethnic Turks in the country have been on the rise in recent years.
Source: Today's Zaman

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