In his speech at "Turks Abroad: The Symposium on Migration and Integration in its 50th Year" held in the Bilkent Hotel and Congress Centre, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis stated that more than 5 million citizens of Turkish origin were living in Europe and this figure proved that the Turks were representing the 19th biggest nation within Europe. He also added that this figure was more than the population of 8-9 European Union Member countries.
Bagis said that for the questions asking the Turkey's accession date to EU, his answer had always been: "Turkey is already in the EU". He added that Turkey was a member of many European institutions and approximately 50% of its foreign trade was made with the EU countries.
Regarding the integration of people going abroad, especially to EU countries, Bagis pointed to the fact that appropriate policies had not been developed on time either by the host countries, or Turkey and thus, some problems existed. He said that being aware of these; we were progressing with confident steps to the future.
Bagis declared that nearly half of the Turkish people living abroad became the citizens of their host country and the integration of these people into the society, their success levels at schools, their command of the language spoken had improved a lot, when compared to the past.
Bagis stressed that they were fully supporting integration but abhorrent to assimilation. He added: "We attach importance that our citizens living abroad become the citizens of their host country, learn the language spoken, have their children be educated at the best schools of the country, act with solidarity, be committed to organisation but we are against that they vanish within other cultures."
Wanting to send a message to the citizens of Turkish origin living in Europe Bagis said that people should carefully read the constitutions of the EU countries and be aware of the obligations, rights and freedoms granted to them.
Bagis said that they regarded each Turkish citizen living abroad as a representative of Turkey in that country. He particularly emphasized: "Their contribution to the society will be considered as Turkey's contribution and their mistakes will also be attributed to Turkey."
Bagis declared that even an individual in an EU country could be a majority if the rights granted to them with the constitutions of the country they were living in were known well and benefited. He pointed to the Soysal decision as the best example of this.
Stating that the struggle of a truck driver brought about a decision which may be a guide for millions of people, Bagis, said that this event set a good example for such occasions where we should be insistent to acquire our right.
Bagis, indicating that Turkey's EU accession process which started with its first application in 1959 was also a legitimate issue, said: "No one should doubt that we will successfully complete the process."
Speaking about Turkish people who gained Europe-wide success, Bagis indicated that Galatasaray's winning UEFA Cup or Turkish national football team's being third in the world cup, Sertap Erener's and finally Hadise's success in Eurovison song contest made important contributions to Europe just like many successful Turkish doctors, artists, journalists, academics and sportsmen.
Bagis said: "This indicates how Turkey contributed to civilisation and peace not only in Europe but also all over the world as a nation which harboured different cultures for centuries. I feel enthusiastic when I see young Turks gaining success in different parts of the world and I believe that everyone should understand that, time proceeds in favour of Turkey."