Europe's sun rises from Istanbul, Turkish EU minister says
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The minister was speaking at the 'Garagerasmus' meeting. DAILY NEWS photoThe sun rises for Europe in Istanbul, Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış said today, addressing the audience at an Erasmus student exchange program meeting in the city.
"A European Union without Turkey is a poor, plain and simple one," Bağış said.
"The sun of Europe rises from Istanbul every morning nowadays," he added, in an indirect reference to the current economic problems of the union.
The minister was speaking at the debut meeting of a project to unite the millions of one-time Erasmus students across the continent, the "Garagerasmus."
"We hope this opening will also be an opening for other fields in relations with the European Union that are currently halted," Bağış said to a group including representatives from universities, the ministry, and European Union bodies.
"Istanbul, a bridge between the West and the East, will hopefully become a bridge between Ankara and Brussels," he said, adding that the Erasmus program helped people overcome prejudices, which he sees as the "main obstacle" behind Turkey's membership to the EU.
Bağış asked for support to overcome such prejudice, in order for Istanbul to win in its bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, where it is up against Tokyo and Madrid.