Eu/turkey : Patience Is Ankara's Membership Strategy, Says Bagis

Europe-East, March 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

Eu/turkey : Patience Is Ankara's Membership Strategy, Says Bagis


With precious little sign of progress in Turkey's EU membership bid in the current political climate, Ankara's chief negotiator on membership has said his strategy is to be patient and wait for a better climate. 'We are known to be patient. Eventually, the sun will come out and the ice will melt,' said EU Affairs Minister Egeman Bagis in Washington DC, on 18 March, while pleading the case why Turkey in the EU was the best solution for all sides. Asked by Europolitics New Neighbours about the intractable opposition of the leaders of France and Germany to Turkish membership, he claimed 'as far as I'm concerned, all EU 27 are in favour of us joining' as the EU Council unanimously had agreed to open membership talks with Turkey.

Commenting on flagging public support in Turkey for EU membership, he cited a recent poll that showed 64% of Turks supported EU membership, although 67% did not think it would actually happen. He said support falls when negative statements are made by German Chancellor Angela Markel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, but increases when positive statements are made, such as when Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's recently visited. Regardless, he insisted Turkey would continue to push hard for membership. He likened the EU to 'Turkey's dietitian,' which 'has helped us to become a fitter country' and 'is still the best prescription around,' adding 'despite the moodiness of the dietitian'.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Outlining Turkey's expectations of the EU, he cited better cooperation in fighting the Kurdish militant group PKK as a priority, claiming 'the PKK is turning into Europe's nightmare' by operating a large drug trafficking network in Europe. …

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