March 10, 2011
Below Stefan Füle’s speech and my comments (available fully here (in English)).
Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Address to the European Parliament on Turkey
European Parliament Plenary Session
Strasbourg, 8 March 2011
I would like to thank the Parliament, and in particular Ms Oomen-Ruijten for her report on Turkey. This debate and your resolution come at an important time for EU-Turkey relations, and the draft resolution underlines a number of issues of great importance for the Commission.
A subjective report, as usual! No surprise then!
In fact, the Greeks and the Greek Cypriots, along with the CDU-CSU and Elmar Brok at the top, as well as the other anti-Turkey politicians, made their famous anti-Turkey propaganda. Let’s remember that Elmar Brok, who is the right hand of Merkel, said last year: We will do whatever the Greek Cypriots will ask us.
Even some socialists made an anti-Turkish propaganda within the EU parliament. Why even the socialists? Because many of them too want to be the (p)resident of the EU parliament. Politics? Great personal perspective! To be used to sending meteors of subjective critics to Turkey from that EU parliament is a secret for no one. But on march, 8th 2011, thank God Mr Graham Watson answered to the famous Turkey hater Elmar Brok. There was at least one objective and dignified person who decided to give answers to Elmar Brok. Elmar Brok was pathetic with his ludicrous replies that only a kid could have given.
Mr Watson also said that Sarkozy’s “visit” to Turkey was a provocation. Mr Watson also said that Sarkozy can’t speak on behalf of the EU regarding Turkey.
I quote Stefan Füle:
The Commission remains committed to the accession process with Turkey. The enlargement process encourages political and economic reform in the country.
Turkey is not waiting for the opening of a new chapter of the EU-Turkey negotiations in order to improve itself. Even Egemen Bağış underlined that several times. He also said that if there were no political obstacles, Turkey and the EU commission could open at least 14 chapters.
The EU-Turkey relationship is strong. Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey – this balance has not changed. The European Union is and will remain a key player for Turkey.
It is based on deep economic integration: 40% of Turkey’s foreign trade goes to the EU, and 80% of foreign direct investments in Turkey come from the EU. The European Union efficiently contributes to Turkey’s modernisation through technology transfers, Turkey’s participation in EU education and research programmes and our pre-accession financial support.
Mr Füle, the English economist Roger Bootle recently said that Turkey doesn’t need the EU but that it is the EU that needs Turkey.
Your predecessors Mr Rehn and Mr Verheugen said that Turkey’s EU membership is vital and that the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU. Jack Straw also did emphasize that a few months ago.
Jean Asselborn said that the EU will be stronger with Turkey’s EU membership.
Alexander Stubb said a few months ago: Arguably, today Turkey is more influential in the world than any of our member states together or separately.
Mr Füle, Gerard Schröder said: The EU will not able to be a global player without Turkey.
The minister for EU affairs of England Mr David Lidington said that the EU will be a global player thanks to Turkey’s EU membership.
Lastly, Mr Carl Bildt stated that when Turkey becomes a member it will strengthen the EU.
Mr Füle, 40% of Turkey’s foreign trade goes to the EU. But let’s remind that 40% of the imports of Turkey come from the EU. Turkey is the fifth biggest economic market for the EU (European commission trade data).
If 80% of foreign direct investments in Turkey come from the EU, it’s because the EU companies want to take advantage of the Turkish market and the young Turkish population. They aim at making money. That’s obvious. If the Turkish market was not interesting, these EU companies would not have invested their money there (Renault decided to make built one of its new model in Turkey). If Fiat and Renault have huge investments in Turkey, it’s for their economic interests.
Furthermore, there are 65 millions mobile customers in Turkey. Mr Füle, Telia-Sonera and Vodafone – two big companies of the EU – are very happy!
Now I suggest a few revealing reminders:
– Turkey is the sixth biggest economy of the EU. And according to a report written in 2004 by Kemal Derviş and some of his collegaues, Turkey will be the fifth economy of the EU in 2020.
– The OECD stated this: Turkey will be the fastest growing economy of the OECD members during 2011-2017, with an annual average growth rate of 6.7 percent.
– Turkey is also very important for the EU because it represents a vital energy corridor. In fact, Turkey is becoming a strategic and crucial bridge between the gas and oil suppliers (of the Caucasus and of the Middle East) and the consumers of the EU.
At the same time, accession negotiations have slowed down. Moreover, the negotiating chapters that Turkey can aim to open under the present circumstances require significant reforms and adjustments.
Mr Füle, you know very well that Turkey has made meaningful progress regarding all the chapters of the EU-Turkey negotiations. If some EU governments stopped their anti-EU rules policies, at least 14 chapters could be opened.
Against this background, I welcome all the more the progress made recently, in particular as regards the competition chapter. I am confident that we can soon open this chapter, provided Turkey fulfils the last remaining conditions.
Even if Turkey successfully opens and closes all the chapters, we all know that there will be at least two referendums: one in France and another in Turkey’s friend Austria.
Obviously, the Cyprus issue weighs on the negotiations. Positive steps on the implementation of the additional protocol to the Ankara agreement or in the settlement talks would have a positive impact on the accession negotiations.
Mr Füle, don’t the EU rules stipulate that a country can’t join the EU if that country has frontiers disputes? Thus why were the Greek Cypriots made EU members? Besides, did not the EU know that once members the Greek Cypriots would have been an obstacle to Turkey’s EU membersip?
Today Turkey is outrageously expected to resolve the Cypriot issue before becoming an EU member. But why didn’t the EU ask the greek Cypriots to resolve the Cypriot issue before having been granted the EU membership?
Last but not least, in 2004 the whole Turkish government of Mr Erdoğan as well as Mehmet Ali Talat did support and did convince the Turkish Cypriots to vote “Yes” to the Annan peace plan for the reunification of Cyprus.
But the Greek Cypriot leaders (including the current leader Christofias) convinced their citizens to vote “No”.
Moreover, the EU did promise the Turkish Cypriots the direct trade. However although that commitment dates back to 2004, the embargoes are still not lifted.
Turkey stated several times that it will implement the additional protocol to the Ankara agreement as soon as the EU stands to its commitment of April 2004.
But, Mr Füle, I understand very well that you aren’t able to do anything against that injustice towards the Turkish Cypriots since your boss José Manuel Barroso’s second mandate was supported by Sarkozy and Merkel, two great supporters of Turkey’s EU membership!
Sir, I do respect you, I want to underline that I have nothing against you. I am appalled and fed up with that EU which is never tired of mistreating Turkey – a key and faithful NATO ally.
Let me turn now to the reforms in Turkey. I welcomed last year’s constitutional reform and the subsequent legislative amendments as steps in the right direction.
Getting the laws right is important. However, only objective and impartial implementation of the new laws will ensure the success of the constitutional reforms.
I do agree with you.
Turkey should continue with the constitutional reform. The process should be as inclusive and transparent as possible with the active participation of different political parties, civil society, non-governmental organisations and the general public.
It will be.
The Commission is following with concern the recent actions against journalists. Independence and freedom of the press is of utmost importance for democracy. In its 2010 progress report the Commission has already highlighted the high number of court cases against journalists and undue pressure on the media which undermine this fundamental right in practice.
I agree too.
I support the destruction of the Ergenekon sect, which has foreign connections. Many people had to be arrested, but several innocent journalists and generals were mistreated.
Freedom of press entails that dissent and opposing points of view need to be heard and – more importantly – tolerated! Freedom of press means guaranteeing a public space for free debate, including on the internet. The European Parliament’s draft resolution rightly underlines these issues.
But as far as I’m concerned, in France many media are not independent at all. The situation is insane.
Let me also write that the EU ougth to look in the mirror (article in English).
So regarding Italy, the media issues are considered as a national issue. But regarding Turkey, it is considered as an EU issue. I see that many politicians of the EU love Turkey so much that they want to strive for a better Turkey. Thank you to all of you! Turkey will be more democratic thanks to your amazing job and sincere support through the EU parliament!
As for the right to freedom of religion, we welcome the initiatives taken in favour of non-Muslim religious communities in Turkey. However, further and systematic efforts are needed to address the problems of non-Muslims and the Alevis.
Turkey is a multicultural country of tolerance. Turkey has certainly still much to do to become a more harmonious country. But let’s allow some time to Turkey. Turkey is changing at a fast pace. I strongly support the Alevis’ demands.
Let me turn to the issue of migration. Two weeks ago, the Council endorsed the EU-Turkey readmission agreement. This agreement is beneficial for the EU Member States, as Turkey is an important transit country for migration flows to the EU.
The development on the readmission agreement also opens up for the first time new and concrete perspectives for further cooperation with Turkey in the area of visa and migration policies, with a view to improving mobility and contacts amongst our citizens and businesses.
Mr Füle, there are indeed many illegals who go to the EU through Turkey. But Turkey tried to resolve that problem. In fact Turkey and the EU were about to sign a readmission agreement. But Mr Füle, some EU countries destroyed everything.
I quote Cecilia Malmström:
I am pleased to announce that following the meeting between the chief negotiators held on 14 January 2011 in Ankara, the final adjustments to the draft EU Readmission Agreement with Turkey were agreed and the negotiation has now come to its end. The outcome of the negotiation is very balanced and will contribute greatly to the effective management of irregular migration in the region. I would like to thank the Turkish side for its very constructive and pragmatic approach during the negotiation. The Text was presented to the EU Member States and I trust that they will approve the current compromise and that we will be able to bring it for formal conclusion to the next Justice and Home Affairs Council on 24 February 2011. The European Parliament will be duly involved, in line with the Treaty requirements. This important development also opens up new perspectives to further foster our cooperation with Turkey in the area of visa policy and related areas, with a view to improving the mobility of our citizens.
But on February, 24th 2011 the EU didn’t authorize the EU commission to negotiate with Turkey about the visa-free regime.
Thus the ball was and still is in the court of the EU.
The Turkish minister for foreign affairs Mr Ahmet Davutoğlu emphasized that Turkey will sign the readmission agreement only if the EU clearly gives the green light to the EU commission so that it negotiates about the visa policies imposed on the Turkish citizens.
Something else: Turkey created a special team of 30 thousand policemen to mont guard at its frontiers with all its neighbours.
Last but not least, the biometric passeports are available in Turkey.
Hence, Turkey worked very hard and met all the conditions for a fair negotiation regarding the visas policies of the EU.
But the awful truth is that EU behaves like a carpet dealer.
Mr Davutoğlu said that Turkey is not a second class country and that it will neither sign nor implement the readmission agreement, unless the EU commission is given the green light about the visas.