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Former Turkish ambassador: ‘EU dream is dead’ 18 novembre 2011

Posted by Acturca in Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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EUobserver.com (Belgium) 18.11.11

By Andrew Rettman, Istanbul

Turkey’s former ambassador to the EU, Volkan Bozkir, has described it as a spent force in world affairs amid general acceptance EU-Turkey accession talks are going nowhere.

Bozkir told delegates at a business congress in Istanbul on Friday (18 November): « The EU dream has come to an end for the world. There is a paradigm shift. The EU is no longer the same Union that provided comfort, prosperity and wealth to its citizens as in the past. It no longer generates visionary ideas such as Schengen [the EU’s passport free zone], or the Common Agricultural Policy. »

« Greece, Portugal, Spain – the EU has a hard time supporting these countries in the economic crisis. It is not able any more to help its members recover from a crisis. »

Bozkir, who was Turkey’s ambassador to the EU between 2005 and 2009 and is now chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Turkish parliament, blamed the situation on the EU architecture – fiscal union between unequal economies and consensus-based decision making.

Using an automotive image for eurozone economies, he said: « You took cars that can only speed up to 60 kilometres per hour and put them on the road with cars driving at 100 kilometres per hour. So of course, these cars crash and are pulled off the road. But when one breaks down, all the others are affected. »

He added: « In normal democracies, you have a majority-based decision mechanism, but never a unanimous mechanism … In order to fix the crisis, you need the vote of countries that caused the crisis. But of course, they say ‘No’. »

He also blamed unanimity for letting Turkey’s historical antagonist, Cyprus block the opening of negotiating chapters in accession talks. The negotiations have been on hold since 2009. « That is what is causing the political deadlock, so the negotiations are not going anywhere, » he said.

Bozkir noted that EU membership is still Turkey’s « strategic objective », but in the sense that adoption of EU-type standards and values is good for Turkey whether it joins or not.

‘Positive agenda’

For their part, two EU commissioners, Stefan Fuele (enlargement) and Karl de Gucht (trade), came to the Istanbul event – put on by Turkish business organisation Tuskon and the Brussels-based think-tank, the EPC – to promote what the EU is calling a « positive agenda », a plan to keep going with pro-EU reform talks outside the formal accession process.

Fuele told Turkish TV the « agenda » is « in no way » an alternative to enlargement but is intended to « inject new blood, energy » into relations. He acknowledged that accession talks are at a « standstill », however.

The commissioner said the Turkish economy is tied to the EU: 46 percent of Turkish trade is with the Union, 80 percent of foreign investment in Turkey comes from EU companies and Brussels will pay Ankara €1 billion in pre-accession aid next year.

But Turkish delegates indicated they no longer see themselves as poor neighbours seeking favours.

Turkey to fill Arab Spring ‘gap’

Bozkir said the Arab Spring is transforming Turkey into a regional power: « We don’t see the US [dominant] in the Middle East anymore. No one has confidence in the UN. So who is going to fill this gap? Turkey. When our prime minister visits these regions, people really welcome him. They wave Turkish flags in the streets. »

Turkish EU affairs minister Egemen Bagis said the question is not what the EU can do for Turkey but vice versa: « The EU was never seen as economic project by us, but as a peace project and we are working to turn it into a global project. »

Its economy minister, Mehmet Caglyan, could not resist taking a jab at Turkey’s other enemy across the Aegean. « With Greece, if we became a member [of the EU], they wouldn’t have to look too far for help, » he said.


1. Analysis: Turkey at new crossroads « ACTURCA - 24 novembre 2011

[…] Volkan Bozkir, now chairman of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in Ankara: « The EU dream has come to an end for the world. There is a paradigm shift. The EU is no longer the same union that provided comfort, prosperity and wealth to its citizens as in the past. It no longer generates visionary ideas such as Schengen or the common agricultural policy. […]

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