‘Ankara’s interest in EU must be protected’

‘Ankara’s interest in EU must be protected’

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
‘Ankara’s interest in EU must be protected’

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle DAILY NEWS photo. Emrah GÜREL

“The day may come when the EU is more interested in Turkey than Turkey is interested in the EU. We must work hard to prevent this,” said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, speaking
at a conference held in Istanbul on May 15.

Westerwelle attended a conference titled “Europe, Turkey and The Mediterranean” organized by the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabancı University and the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation at the Sabancı Museum in Istanbul. Westerwelle said EU Turkey accession negotiations must be “redynamized.”

“For too long we have not opened a single chapter, for too long we have moved around in circles, and for too long we have not paid enough attention to how much growth could be stimulated with stronger ties between Turkey and the EU,” Westerwelle said.

Westerwelle said while no one can forecast what the result of negotiations between Turkey and the EU will be, Europe must offer Turkey a fair deal in the accession negotiations. “It is self-evident that the EU cannot predict if and when Turkey will join the club. But our Turkish friends have the legitimate expectation that progress must depend on Ankara’s own merits, not on domestic considerations elsewhere. I am optimistic the latest elections in Europe will strengthen this principle,” Westerwelle added.

Turkey is the key country
Westerwelle also said Turkey and Germany should explore ways to intensify their political exchange by establishing a strategic dialogue chaired by the foreign ministers. “This dialogue could cover a broad range of bilateral and European issues. After my latest talks with my good friend [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu, I am convinced that this is our common agenda. We all understood it would be the best timing to restart it now once again,” Westerwelle said. Westerwelle said in the past decade the Turkish economy has been growing at an amazing rate. “What we have now is a world of change, and Turkey is the key country in this world of change. Turkey’s impressive rise and self-confidence is nothing to be afraid of. The opposite is true. It opens new horizons for cooperation; our cooperation can be built on strong bases,” Westerwelle said.