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Turkey will be fine if its bid for EU fails, says Gül

BERLIN – Hürriyet Daily News | 9/19/2011 12:00:00 AM | SEVİL KÜÇÜKKOŞUM

Turkey would respect an eventual decision by EU countries to deny Turkey full membership after the completion of accession talks, President Abdullah Gül said.

Turkey would respect an eventual decision by EU countries to deny Turkey full membership after the completion of accession talks, President Abdullah Gül said Monday, but urged EU politicians not to hamper the ongoing process.

“We will [accept] not being an EU member if the people of any EU country do not want [us] and consider Turkey a burden,” Gül told a press conference with his German counterpart Christian Wulff on Monday, referring to eventual referendums on Turkey’s accession.

The president made his remarks while visiting Germany in the framework of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of a labor-force-exchange agreement between Turkey and Germany.

Asked whether Turkey was still enthusiastic for EU accession, Gül reasserted Ankara’s strategic goal of full membership, but appeared unruffled about the possibility of an ultimate failure.

“I don’t think it is necessary to debate at present whether Turkey will become a full member or not. Turkey must be given a chance to finish the negotiation process successfully,” he said.

Referring to referendums that some EU countries would hold to approve Turkey’s eventual accession, Gül said: “If those people say they don’t want Turkey, we will welcome this with respect.”

“Moreover, maybe the Turkish people will refuse to be a full member. But today our duty is to honor the decision we have made,” the president emphasized, adding that the process of accession talks would make Turkey a stronger country in any event.

Gül said it was hard to understand the concept of “privileged partnership” that the German government is proposing for Turkey instead of full membership. Turkey, he pointed out, already has a privileged relationship with the European Union through the customs union agreement.

The Turkish president also voiced hope that his visit to Germany would pave the way for a new era in ties between the two countries.

For his part, German President Wulff praised Turkey’s role in North Africa and the Middle East and stressed its identity as a “model among Arab countries.”

Saying that pluralism, the rule of law and Islam go hand in hand in Turkey, the German president also said this constituted a model for the region. “Speaking with a single voice, we can move with Turkey in these countries,” he said, adding that Turkey is an important mediator between Europe and Asia.

[HH] New tax agreement

During Gül’s visit, Germany and Turkey signed a new agreement to avoid double taxation, which is vital to nearly 3.5 million people of Turkish origin living in Germany, many of whom currently incur taxable income in both countries.

The Turkish president also criticized the visa difficulties facing Turkish businesspeople who want to travel to Germany.

Gül’s visit to Berlin was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Turkey-Germany labor recruitment agreement of 1961, which paved the wave for a massive influx of Turkish workers to Germany.

Elaborating on the integration problems of the Turkish community in Germany, Gül stressed the importance of learning German to be a part of German society, saying Turkish children should learn German during or before primary school. “Muslim Turkish families give [more] importance to the food in the schools for their children,” he said, pointing out some hurdles facing immigrant communities’ integration.

Mentioning the requirement of language education for Turks who want to live in Germany, Gül also drew attention to difficulties faced by Turkish women who have to pass a language exam before they can come to Germany to marry another Turk. “Those requirements are destroying self-confidence,” he said, adding that some parts of integration policy should be discussed again with German authorities.

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