Bağış dismisses impact of Greek Cypriot rule

Bağış dismisses impact of Greek Cypriot rule

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency

Turkey will lose nothing if it fails to open any new chapter in its accession talks with the European Union when Greek Cyprus takes over the bloc’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2012, EU Minister Egemen Bağış has said.

“We have not opened a new chapter over the past year. Turkey will lose nothing if it fails to open any chapter in the six months during the Greek Cypriot presidency,” Bağış said late Nov. 16 at Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission.

“During those six months, relations will continue with the [European] Commission and the European Parliament, but we will not engage in any ties with the Greek Cypriots simply because they hold the presidency,” he said.

In comments on the stalemate in the accession talks, the minister said the EU was in the grips of “an eclipse of reason,” but said Turkey would stay on the path of reform.

He said the membership process had earned Turkey financial support for various development projects. “The EU process has offered Turkey great opportunities and we must embrace it as a nation. We cannot leave aside this process and take another direction just because some EU member countries are going through a [financial] crisis.”

In response to criticism by opposition lawmakers that Croatia had overtaken Turkey even though membership talks began simultaneously, Bağış said the situation would have been different for Turkey if “it had said yes to everything like Croatia.”

The minister said Romania’s premier had advised him last year not to heed all the demands of the EU because they had ruined the Romanian economy.

“He said: ‘Don’t do everything the commission wants. If we are going through economic hardship today, it’s because we said yes to everything.’ Romania finished the accession talks in four years but they closed down their farms so that Germany and France could sell them salami and sausages,” Bağış said.