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Egemen Bagis: "We will enter the EU as a different Turkey"

06 November 2009 / 10:11:46  GRReporter
2380 reads

Victoria Mindova

“Politics is the art of finding solutions. We cannot change the past but we can make the basis of a better future,” said minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator of Turkey Egemen Bagis. Mr. Bagis is in Athens at the invitation of the Institute for Black Sea Studies, where he gave a lecture on the “Membership of Turkey and a stronger EU”. The Turkish representative touched upon some extremely important topics, concerning Greek-Turkish relations.

The Turkish diplomat called for the establishment of a closer relationship between the Greek and the Turkish government, which will seek common solutions to problems and issues affecting the two neighboring countries. He explained that when the newly elected government in Greece took power, it showed good will and predisposition towards Turkey. Mr. Bagis said that this encourages Turkish politicians and believes that it will give opportunity for the beginning of a “new era” in the communication process between the two countries. As “hot” topics in Greek-Turkish relationship Mr. Bagis defined the illegal emigration, reforms regarding joining the EU and the Cyprian problem.

“Turkey is ready to support any agreements done between the leaders of Northern and Southern Cyprus,” said he. The Turkish diplomat stressed that right now there is the so called “window for finding a solution” – 45 meetings between Cyprian Greeks leader Dimitris Hristofias and Cyprian Turks leader Mehmed Ali Talat. Those meetings prove the desire of both sides to reach a consensus for uniting the island.

The Minister did not forget to note that Hristofias and Talat are both democratically elected leaders and the time to find a solution is limited by their mandates. Egemen Bagis expressed his fears that during the next elections, the newly elected leaders might not be so susceptible towards the idea to unite the island. To the question when Turkey plans to withdraw its army from Cyprus, Egemen Bagis reminded that the Turkish military presence is not the only one on the island.

The minister for EU Affairs said that last year the Turkish border police had arrested and deported 65 000 illegal emigrants. He stressed that the European countries must cooperate in dealing with the illegal emigration problem and called for “uniting our efforts” in order to reach effective results. Minister Bagis gave an example about the Turkey’s disadvantages: for the stay, food and deportation of one illegal emigrant the EU pays €78 to Turkey and €1000 to Greece for the same procedure. The Turkish representative expressed his hope that soon his country will receive the needed assistance and called for the compassion of all European countries, regarding this problem.

Mr. Bagis confessed that Turkey needs to pass a long and hard road until it executes all EU criteria. Independently of the hardships Egemen Bagis assured that the Turkish government is ready to introduce and apply all measures, which will guarantee its admission into the European Union. “We do not want to become full member from tomorrow. Turkey will enter the EU when it is ready and when Europe is ready for it. We know it will take time but we are determined to make the necessary changes, in order to join the union as a different Turkey.”

Tags: Turkey in the EU Greece and Turkey Cyprian problem
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