EU’s political norms still crucial: Babacan

EU’s political norms still crucial: Babacan

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
EU’s political norms still crucial: Babacan

Ali Babacan says EU’s political norms remain ‘extremely important’ for Turkey. AA photo

The European Union may be haunted by financial troubles, but its political norms remain “extremely important” for Turkey, regardless of whether the country will be eventually granted membership, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said yesterday.

“In economic terms, the European Union has nothing left to give as an example or inspiration. The biggest problem of the EU today is they fail to observe the principles and rules they themselves have set,” Babacan told Turkish ambassadors at a meeting in Ankara.

“But the EU’s criteria and norms are still extremely important for Turkey in terms of our domestic political reforms,” Babacan said. “It is very much in Turkey’s interest to keep its [membership] objective firm and advance in that direction, regardless of whether it will eventually become a member or when that will happen. We must never sacrifice our EU accession process to populism.”

The Turkish economy is resilient to the impact of the EU’s financial troubles because of far-reaching reforms Turkey accomplished prior to 2008, Babacan said. European countries needed similar structural reforms but lack the political determination to go ahead, he added. 

Speaking at the same gathering, EU Minister Egemen Bağış stressed the EU remains Turkey’s primary trade partner and “the region with the highest prosperity level even though it is grappling with the worst economic crisis in its history.” 

Government in 'dream world'

Also yesterday, the government came under opposition fire for underestimating Turkey’s own financial problems, while “putting on airs” over the state of European economies.

Babacan had said over the weekend, “If you put the Justice and Development Party [AKP] government in any European country, it could resolve the problems in three months with its determination and honesty.” 

Deputy Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Faik Öztrak stressed 45 million Turks lacked any meat or fish in their daily diet, and more than 26 million were deprived of heat during the winter. “We advise Mr. Babacan to exit the dream world he has indulged in and use his talents to resolve the problems of Turkish citizens,” he said.