Turkey’s longest friend, Poland urges combat against corruption

Turkey’s longest friend, Poland urges combat against corruption

WARSAW – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s longest friend, Poland urges combat against corruption

Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz (L) speaks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (R) and Polish Foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski (Center) during a Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. AFP Photo

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has urged the European Union to keep its promises made to Turkey while indirectly calling on the Turkish government to fight corruption, as the issue has become an accession criterion for candidate countries.

“I believe the EU should be credible in its promises. Promises were made to Turkey and we should fulfill them. That’s why Poland advocated the opening of another chapter of negotiation with Turkey during our presidency of the EU, which has now been opened,” Sikorski told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview in Warsaw.

Turkey and Poland are set to mark the 600th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, making the latter Turkey’s longest friend on the European continent. Poland and Turkey are both NATO allies, while Turkey is knocking on the EU’s door.

Poland became a member 10 years ago.

Poland supports the continuation of European enlargement to the east, with Turkey and Ukraine at the top of the list.

“I am not sure how keen Turkey still is,” Sikorski said, in reference to Turkey’s decades-old efforts to join the EU, while adding that any country that fulfills the accession criteria, whether Turkey, Ukraine or another country, should be allowed to join the 28-member club.

In a written answer to the same question, Sikorski recalled the EU principle that all candidate countries should meet the Copenhagen political criteria. “There is no exception to this rule. There is no doubt that Turkey has to prove its commitment to the common rules applicable in the EU – commitment to democracy, rule of law and human rights,” he said.

On growing criticisms against the Turkish government’s undemocratic moves in a bid to cover up corruption and graft claims, Sikorski refused to comment on Turkey’s internal political affairs, while adding that they were following the matter “with concern.”

Underlining that they wanted Turkey to be a stable and democratic country, Sikorski noted that his country successfully fought against corruption. “And indeed I believe it is one of the issues that we look at among candidate countries and some recent member countries. Corruption is the shortest way to alienate citizens from their own state and from their own authorities. Combating [corruption] needs leadership from the top,” he said.

Longest friendship to be commemorated

Noting that Turkey and Poland’s 600 years of relations was one of the oldest in political history, Sikorski said: “We established relations even before you conquered Constantinople. Which means it was a really important relation. Indeed, I understand your relationship with the Netherlands is two centuries shorter. [And it is] almost three times longer than the existence of the U.S. It even predates the discovery of the sea route to India by the Portuguese.”

Such a lengthy relationship is an exceptional event in both the European and global history of diplomacy, he said. “Everyone in Poland remembers that Turkey refused to acknowledge the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. On the other hand, Poland was among the first countries to recognize … the Turkish Republic when it was established.”

The 600th year will be commemorated with a rich program consisting of 130 initiatives from Poland and 60 from Turkey throughout 2014. Poland’s president is expected to visit Turkey in early March among other exchanges of high-level visits.

“One of the things I would like to see as a result of this year is – something you can do more than we can – is the examination of your archives. Because of partition, because occupying parts stole our archives and because of World War II, our archives have been destroyed. I understand your archive is intact. They may be written in the old Arabic style but they are there,” he said.