‘We refuse to beg; we are irritating them’

‘We refuse to beg; we are irritating them’

President Abdullah Gül continued with his statements on the European Union in his Germany trip and this time he pronounced the Norway model, saying, “For me, what is essentially important is that Turkey is able to be like Norway. That is, it should be able to complete the EU accession process successfully.”

The Norway model points to an interesting example where the candidate country completes the accession talks with success but full membership is rejected by a public referendum. Norway had closed all its negotiations chapters in 1972 but in the referendum in 1974, 53.5 percent of the population said “no” to full membership. In another attempt with a second referendum in 1994, this time 52.2 percent of the votes were cast as “no.”

President Gül made these statements the other night to a group of journalist covering his trip, the highlights of which are as follows:

Germany is honest in issue of EU

“This is turning out to be a good trip. I am also demonstrating a different perspective. I assist them in noticing some things. Actually, they have already noticed them for a long time. There is no exiting problem in political matters anyway. In the EU issue, they are acting honestly. Compared to the French, again, it is here that the largest number of chapters was opened.”

Improvement in visas

“There are indeed problems with Germany, starting with visas. We also focused on that issue. They will make quite an improvement in the visa procedures. The representatives of the German business world also explained what an unfair [situation] the visa regime was. I do hope there will be some improvements also in this matter.”

To be like Norway

“We reiterate in every medium that Turkey’s strategic tendency and determination to make full membership the only option. After Turkey does whatever is needed from it, after it meets the criteria; then it will be the time when the actual decision on full membership will be made. Today, France and some other countries, what do they say? They do not talk about the topic of today; they are talking about a topic of tomorrow. It does not open some chapters [on purpose] because they will lead to full membership. And I am saying, ‘You will hold a referendum anyway. Say “No” to me in the referendum. Don’t cheat and stop me from completing my accession process successfully.’ This is a game of the Europeans. What is essentially important for me is that Turkey is able to be like Norway. That is, it should be able to complete the EU accession process successfully.”

Line of least resistance

“The more we proceed in the accession talks, the more we are becoming stronger and our problems are decreasing. That is why I am saying that what is important for me is to complete the accession talks. After we become like Norway, they can do the calculation. Why should we do it only? Today and also in the past, I have intentionally and consciously adopted this tone. Because I know that, the more you assume a humble attitude, the more they treat you like that. You need to irritate them a bit.”

They are free to reject

Upon the reminder, “In your statements, there is such a tone as, ‘It is up to you to take us or not,’” he said, “Yes, there is that too. Meaning that we are not in a begging position. It is different to be begging than being very determined, to remind their responsibilities to the end, to be persistent in monitoring our rights in an honest way.”

Dynamo needed to grow Europe

“Why does all of Europe experience this inconvenience? Because it cannot grow. Some countries are saturated with growth, what will they do? They need a dynamo to grow. For this reason they will recognize the value of Turkey. As long as we demonstrate the value of Turkey. We somehow undervalue Turkey. And also, there is no value to the person whose own house is in disarray. From that angle also, I have been consistently emphasizing this, that we need to put our own house in order. In every sense. Economic rules, the rule of law, human rights standards, all other issues of ours, our Kurdish and Alevi issues… If you don’t do that, then here erupts confusion.”

‘The bomb threat blew my top’

Gül criticized German security officials following a bomb threat made by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, on Tuesday, which caused a delay of his speech that he was delivering at Berlin’s Humboldt University.

“Just as I was entering the hall, they stopped me. ‘There is a bomb…’ What do you mean a bomb? Didn’t you take the necessary measures? It is not any professor who is arriving here to deliver a speech; it is a head of a state who is coming. This is no joke, please… Did you not do the search? Well, despite all this, again if it is for not taking extra risks, then ok. We will retreat, and we will see. ‘No, don’t speak, go to the hotel.’ This, frankly, upset me absolutely. They have learned their lesson. [For example,] There is a bomb threat on a plane. The plane lands and when they search and see that there is nothing. It then takes off. [Here] It was a very unlikely event, to tell the truth… When everything works well, their system functions like a clock. But against a stress test, they collapse. That is what happened there today. I believe they will never forget, for all their lives, the words I told them. Good that they know now, they will see… Definitely, they should have been very embarrassed afterward. The German president was sorry indeed. He told me, ‘It was good that you did not depart.’”