Egemen Bagis, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, delivered a speech at the European Policy Centre, which is a think tank in Brussels.
Touching upon Turkey's EU process, Bagis said, "Not only 20 million in Europe but also one and a half billion Muslims around the world are following this process closely and the Islamic world is looking for a role model. Not only the ones in Europe but also the Muslim young around the world are seeking a role model. There are ones who try to be a role model through resorting to terror, violence and discrimination. On the other hand there are those like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul who try to exalt human rights and freedoms even if they have been unfairly treated in their democratic efforts. In my opinion, the EU must make a selection as to which role model it will turn its spotlights on. It must express its preference as to which message it would like to convey to one and a half billion Muslims around the world and to three billion people who feel themselves isolated.
Reminding that Turkey strived for solution to distrust between Iran and the West and to disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Russia and Georgia and had a role in Israel-Syria indirect talks voluntarily or at the request of the parties while those who are proponents of war and violence continued with their efforts in the world, particularly in the Middle East, Bagis said, "I think Turkey is a very important model to be analysed for international peace."
Egemen Bagis stated, "In the world, all kinds of war which can be imagined such as hot war, cold war, espionage war, guerrilla war have been tried but different ways of diplomacy and peace have not been tested out. Turkey is trying to propound this. This is the greatest contribution of Turkey to the world civilization."
Bagis also mentioned the Halki Seminary and indicated that he considered the reopening of the Seminary as a domestic issue which concerns human rights in Turkey and said, "Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey are citizens who are equal. They pay tax and do their military service. If they have a need, we have to satisfy it. We are trying to assess how we can meet their needs through examining our constitution and laws."
Bagis requested Greece to demonstrate the same determination regarding the Turkish minority and said, "In my opinion, the Greek government must also make an effort to meet the needs of the Turkish minority in the West Thrace. Here, I am not talking about reciprocity, I am talking about simultaneous action. Because the steps to be taken for the good of our citizens must be based on the principle of simultaneous good will but not on the principle of reciprocity.
Bagis stated that the friendship and the harmony that have a long history between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis enabled him to think positive as regards tackling that problem.
Upon being reminded that it would be evaluated in the progress report which would be prepared by the European Commission, whether or not Turkey would open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic, Bagis stated these:
"EU issues progress report every year. In the report which will be issued at the end of this year, there will be some more pages on the Cyprus issue. While writing a report on the Cyprus issue some matters should be kept in mind. The Council of the European Union decided on April 2004, by unanimity, that the member states would lift the isolations on Northern Cyprus. This decision of the Council of the European Union has not still been put into effect. The expectation of Turkey is towards EU's initiation of direct trade to TRNC by implementing its own decision."
Stating that a step that the EU would take in this regard would not mean the recognition of TRNC, Bagis referred to Taiwan, as an example, with which the whole world traded, but even so, which was recognized by only a few countries.
Noting that with the EU's lifting the isolations on TRNC, Turkey would simultaneously open its ports to the ships of Greek Cypriot Part, Bagis pointed out that a step such that would not mean Turkey's recognition of the Greek CypriotPart.
Emphasizing that he didn't agree with the expectation that "train accident would occur at the end of this year" in Turkey's EU membership process, Bagis said: "The report that will be prepared at the end of this year will not be guillotine, it will neither be a completion or a continuation.
Bagis emphasized that the dispute in Cyprus hadn't prevented the Greek Cypriot Part's EU membership and he added that it would not prevent Turkey's EU membership, either.
The Chief Negotiator Bagis warned that it would destroy the reliability of the EU when EU Member States used as a trump the bilateral disputes with the candidate countries during the negotiations.
Upon the assertion of the Brussels representative of the Greek Cypriot Part that they have fulfilled their responsibility towards TRNC by the financial aid regulation, Egemen Bagis reminded that the Annan Plan had been rejected in the Southern Part of the Island by a three-fourth majority and he said: "Two people are needed for tango. We are waiting right in the middle of the stage. Please come and join us."Resource: AA