Lecturing on "European Union Negotiation Process" at AK Party Political Academy, which was held in Mecidiyekoy Cultural Centre, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis stated that EU issue was an important project, so much so that no one, society, party or section of the society could solely possess it.
Noting that EU membership was a project which would affect the lives of everyone and that today there was a common enthusiasm on this issue, Bagis said, "Today European Union is a project which everyone in Turkey, young and old, military and civilian, easterner and westerner, Muslim and non-Muslim, worker and civil servant can find something in."
Indicating that Turkey's EU journey had started in 1959 and Turkey couldn't even receive a date for negotiations during the first 45 years of the process, Bagis said;
"During 45 years, some launched coups and blocked the EU process completely; some totally distorted the target through the words ‘the road to success in this passes through Diyarbakir.' Some wanted to extend the issue over time saying ‘once our population is over 70 million, we will throttle them', some rejected the offers of the EU and ignored this process completely for fear that ‘they would become partners and we would be the market.'"
Bagis noted that in the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002, which was held after AK Party came to power, a decision was taken that accession negotiations would be started without delay, providing Turkey fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria and that was the turning point in 45 year old EU process.
Indicating that negotiations were opened with Turkey by virtue of determination they demonstrated in 17 December Brussels Summit, Bagis noted these:
"Why did we receive? How did we achieve what couldn't be achieved for 45 years? We did this through obliging Europe to give us a date. EU process has always been stressful thus far. It will be gruelling in the future, too. This process requires great patience. This process requires a very serious psychological warfare. Because both the Europeans and Turkey are aware that this process is a 'win-win' one for both sides in the long run. If we were to draw up a list of the problems which Europe and Turkey will encounter in the next 30 years, we would all see that this integration will profit both us and them."
Bagis said that one of the principal problems with which the EU is faced was energy and that it was almost impossible for the EU to resolve this problem without Turkey.
Bagis also stated that the population of Europe was growing older and in the future it wouldn't be possible for Europe to manage its social insurances system, but on the other hand the average age in Turkey was 28.
Bagis said that big countries in Europe were aware that when a country like Turkey, with its population exceeding 70 million, became a member to the EU, it would take more seats than they possessed in the European Parliament, that it would have more representatives in the decision-making mechanisms in the European Commission and that it would be in a more efficient position in the preparation of the budget of Europe. Bagis added that they therefore tried to slow it down as much as possible and extend it over time and said, "Now we say that 'this is based on win-win formula' but our profit is higher in the short run. Their profit is higher in the long run. This is a common enthusiasm for us. We must all understand and communicate the EU process well."
Bagis stated that he called the EU process as the dietician of Turkey and and continued to say the following:
"We all have to care for our nourishment for a healthy life. We all know that we have to avoid food which has fat and do sports; nonetheless not all of us can do this. We eat a delicious meal when we have the chance. We prefer sitting in front of television and eating ice cream to doing sports. However, whenever we experience petty health problems, we visit a doctor or a dietician. And he writes a prescription for us. When you follow this prescription, it pays. Dietician doesn't make much profit. Today, 27 EU member states have gone through this process. They all became stronger when we compare the day they started with the day they ended. If we believe that our nation deserves to live at their standards or even at higher standards, which we do, and therefore we are in politics, we have to follow this prescription."