No strong EU without Turkey, says Italian envoy

No strong EU without Turkey, says Italian envoy

No strong EU without Turkey, says Italian envoy

‘The EU is an important pillar of Turkey. Europe is in your history,’ Italian envoy Gianpaolo Scarante (inset L) told Daily News reporter Selim Akan.

The European Union would struggle to be strong and efficient without Turkey, Italian Ambassador to Turkey Gianpaolo Scarante said Feb. 8, underlining that Ankara and Brussels both had important roles to play. 

“I don’t think there are alternatives,” the ambassador told the Hürriyet Daily News in Istanbul on Feb. 8, when asked to comment on the recent debate on Turkey’s possible membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). “The EU is an important pillar of Turkey. Europe is in your history. In the future, Turkey will be an important pillar of the EU. In the future of Europe there will be Turkey, I believe.”

Scarante stressed that 2013 would be an important year for the stalled negotiations. “2013 will mark some positive steps,” he said. The EU is preparing to lift its block on at least one accession chapter during Ireland’s current bloc term presidency. 

Scarante also said Italy supported the idea of removing visas for Turkey, adding that Rome was lobbying to this end in Brussels. “It is not just to help a friend country, but it is also in Italy’s interest and the EU’s interest to have a Turkey without visas. There are 100,000 people coming every year from Turkey, but the potential is much bigger. So why don’t we remove visas. There is no danger for our country, no danger of illegal immigration,” he said. 

Eni: complex problem

Commenting on the possible agreement between Italian energy company Eni and Greek Cyprus over the hydrocarbon drilling around the island, the ambassador said Italy understood the complexity of the problem. “It is a private company, so we can’t say what to do exactly,” he said.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Feb. 8 the government will review the applications of the company, adding that ENI should decide which project it would be in. 

Turkey’s EU hopes rise before french visit

Sevil Küçükkoşum - ANKARA

Turkish and French ministers are due to meet in Paris next week on the sidelines of an international gathering, where they are expected to discuss the lifting of France’s veto on a number of negotiation chapters for Turkey’s membership to the European Union. Ankara expects France to take positive steps on opening new negotiation chapters with the EU, ahead of French President François Hollande’s visit to Turkey. “If France lifts it blockade on EU negotiation chapters before President Hollande’s visit to Turkey, it will enable us to focus on a positive agenda during the visit,” a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will meet French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris, where France will host an international conference on Libya on Feb. 12. 

In 2007, French President Nicholas Sarkozy blocked five chapters related to Turkey’s EU membership. Since Hollande replaced Nicolas Sarkozy last year, Turkey has been hopeful that France will unblock negotiations on at least two policy chapters in the coming months. Hollande’s visit to Turkey has yet to be scheduled, but the issue will certainly be discussed during the meeting in Paris between Fabius and Davutoğlu, according to the official. Turkey is hoping to open at least one new chapter.