Widening Turkey-EU gap worries bosses group

Widening Turkey-EU gap worries bosses group

Widening Turkey-EU gap worries bosses group

TÜSİAD President Haluk Dinçer speaks at a conference in Istanbul on Nov. 20. DHA Photo

Turkey’s leading business group has noted its worry over the divergence in perception between Turkey and the European Union, adding that there was "no alternative" to joining the bloc to guarantee a secular and pluralist democracy.

“We are worried about the separation of perceptions between Turkey and the EU. Turkey’s soft power and active foreign policy in its region and toward its neighbors in the early 2000s stemmed from its secular democratic system and its EU membership perspective. Turkey’s rising power status that provided high economic growth came from its harmony with EU values. Therefore, on the path of a secular and pluralist democracy, there is no tangible and serious alternative to its membership perspective,” said Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TÜSİAD) President Haluk Dinçer at the “Turkey – EU Relations: Scenarios for the future” conference organized by TÜSİAD and the Brookings Institute Nov. 20 in Istanbul.

Dinçer said that although many years have passed in Turkey-EU relations, no tangible calendar has ever been set, stressing that accession negotiations should be revived.

He listed a number of factors that have affected accession negotiations, placing the decline of the EU’s enlargement perspective after the euro crisis and the EU commission’s failure to foresee any enlargement in the coming five years as the most important factor that could affect both parties. Dinçer said the future of the Cyprus negotiations, which also involved international actors, was a determining factor, and emphasized that Turkey "should display a more constructive attitude."

Claiming that there had recently been a regression in terms of Turkey’s democratic environment, political criteria, state of law, and freedom of speech, Dinçer said Chapters 23 and 24 of the accession process - concerning the judiciary, fundamental rights, freedom and security - should be immediately opened.

Agreements on readmission and visa facilitation had a positive effect on the public as part of EU-Turkey negotiations, Dinçer said, adding that efforts to lift the "political blockades" of some EU countries could also contribute to negotiations.

The TÜSİAD head said Turkey should focus on fulfilling the preconditions of the chapters that do not have such political barriers ahead of them.

Dinçer also emphasized that TÜSİAD "did not agree with the understanding that democracy, economic growth and prosperity is a zero-sum game."

“It is a global fact that welfare and high amounts of consumption are not sustainable in the long-run without democracy,” he said.