Turkey’s EU process an end in itself, says Turkish diplomat

Turkey’s EU process an end in itself, says Turkish diplomat

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s EU process an end in itself, says Turkish diplomat

Turkey’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of EU Affairs Haluk Ilıcak. DHA Photo

Once Turkey succeeds in completing the chapters and improving itself to reach European standards, the actual accession is not that important, and could be debated, Turkey’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of EU Affairs Haluk Ilıcak said today during the ministry’s Istanbul conference.

Ilıcak said some of the chapters were politically blocked, but Turkish authorities were doing their bests to tackle as many chapters as possible, seeing them as steps of necessary improvement.

“The process means more than the accession,” Ilıcak said. “Once the necessary levels are achieved, Turkey is big enough to continue its development without the accession. Our aim is to achieve a smooth accession process.”

Ilıcak added that accession attempts had allowed “democratic reforms to be put into place.”

State Secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Frank Belfarge, one of the remaining guests on Ilıcak’s panel, also spoke on Turkey’s accession, saying a ‘new momentum’ was expected this year.

“A new momentum in the EU-Turkey relations could be achieved this year,” Belfarge said.

Turkey had ‘torturous’ EU process, says former UK secretary of state

Meanwhile, former British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw said that Turkey had so far had a “torturous” accession process with the European Union.

The countries of the union needed to admit that they have discriminated against Turkey when compared to the remaining accession processes, which have progressed far faster than with Turkey, Straw added, where the union gave “some countries the benefit of the doubt.”

Those realized accessions have been “more a matter of expectation than of reality,” Straw said, however, he also stated that “an active consensus across the spectrum” existed among nations with regard to the Turkish accession.

Turkey’s attempts at improving itself and catching up with chapters were impressive, Straw added, and repeated a previous statement by a Turkish minister, saying, “As long as Brussels refuses to negotiate with Turkey, Turkey will continue negotiating with itself.”

‘I too was a protester’

Straw also commented on the ongoing Gezi Park protests, and highlighted the importance of having the congress at a “peaceful time, when the world watches the events in Turkey.”

“Democracy is a fine balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority,” Straw said, “demonstrations indicate the strength of democracy.”

Straw then told the attending guests that he too had once been “a protester” during his time as a president of Britain’s students’ union, where he had organized “all peaceful demonstrations” against the then Education Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Straw said the recent events showed “how strongly Turkish people felt about their opinions”, adding that nevertheless, protesters should beware of provocations.

“Violence, riots, and looting by extremists should be condemned.”