Minister for EU Affairs and the Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis attended the annual "Turkey-Spain Conference" organized by Sabancı University Istanbul Policies Center and European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), a Spanish opinion institution, competent on European Mediterrenaen relations.
Speaking at the opening of the conference held in Sakip Sabanci Museum, Bagis congratulated the organizers of the conference for it had been arranged quite timely.
Bagis stated that the senior executives of the two countries would meet the next day and that the meeting had constituted a great basis for that summit.
Explaining that the Turkey-Spain relations dated back to the 14th century and diplomatic relations had existed since 1782, Bagis pointed out that those relations had accelerated in the last ten years.
Stating that the support of the Spanish government for Turkey within the European Union was very pleasing, Bagis noted that the amount of tourists between the two countries, the exchange of students in the academic field and the trade relations between the two countries had increased. Bagis recalled that a friendship group had been set up within the Spanish Parliament.
Pointing out that, just like Anatolia, Iberia Peninsula was also the land of people from different regions and different histories, Bagis emphasized that despite the risk of a clash of civilizations, Turkey and Spain had chaired the alliance of civilizations which was a fact that even surprised Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Indicating that Spain became a better country in the last 35 years and Turkey would become a much better country when it concluded negotiations with the EU, Bagis said, "We will be very glad as long as Spain gives us support in the issue of becoming a part of the EU which is the most important peace process of mankind. Spain has contributed substantially to the economy, social life, labour force and culture of Europe. I am sure that Turkey will also contribute significantly to Europe in every field".
Reminding that Turkey was the 6th biggest economy in Europe, had the 4th largest labour force and had a population considerable part of which was under 35, Bagis stated that they considered that Turkey could become a part of solution to the problems of Europe such as security, energy, economic crisis, labour force and human smuggling.
Bagis stated that EU could also provide solutions to the problems of Turkey.
Noting that he hoped his Spanish counterparts would convince the EU of Turkey's membership, Bagis declared that he believed Spain's 2010 EU Presidency would present great opportunities as well.
Bagis said, "The future of our relations gives us great hope. All the world will soon talk about this experience between Turkey and Spain. There is a 'win-win' case here".
In her speech Magdalena Alvarez Arza, Minister of Transport and Public Works in Spain stated that they supported Turkey in its EU membership bid and Guler Sabanci, chairperson of board of trustees of the Sabanci University which hosted the conference emphasized that relations between the two countries had to be further developed.