Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said, "Up until now, even one single person didn't say ‘EU isn't suitable for us'. Now it is time to see the sincerity of these words of support."
Speaking at the opening of Turkey-EU Joint Advisory Committee meeting, Bagis stated that Turkey and Europe had both acquired a lot and made serious strategic mistakes during the last 50 years since 1959 when Turkey had made the first application to the EU.
Indicating that there were many serious mistakes made in Turkey such as coups, intimidation of the society with the words ‘they would become partners and we would be the market' and distortion of the target through the words ‘the road to EU passes through Diyarbakir', Bagis added that one the other hand they also observed European politicians who considered the EU as an institution which they established and with a mothering instinct made every effort to come up with pretexts for sustaining the idea that ‘how I could delay this country which has a population of 70 million and the great majority of which is Muslim'.
Bagis said, "There have been mutual mistakes. The difficult side to this is over now that Turkey has received a date for negotiations in the 45th year of this process. In my opinion, it is the most critical turning point. Today, Turkey is a country which is moving rapidly towards the target of EU membership."
Stressing that he thought that the ones who level criticisms at the slowdown in EU affairs should also consider a little the first 45 years of the process, Bagis stated that when they looked back on the last 3-4 months period, they observed some important acquisitions in the area of EU affairs in Turkey.
Reminding that each individual step which would be taken in Turkey during the next 4 years were specified in the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis, Bagis noted that Abdullah Gul, the President of the Republic of Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the leader of the main opposition party went to Brussels and emphasized their support for Turkey's EU membership bid and on the other side officials from EU Commission stressed that they also supported Turkey's membership bid and that if Turkey met the necessary criteria, the membership process would progress rapidly.
Indicating that there will be an election-free period of 2,5 years ahead of Turkey and it is necessary to make good use of this period, Bagis stated that in the meetings he held so far, the opposition (from right to left), the constitutional institutions of every level, non-governmental organisations, vocational organisations and other institutions said they would give support to the EU process and up until now, even one single person didn't say ‘EU isn't suitable for us. We can't give support on this issue' and that now it was time to see the sincerity of these words of support.
Bagis said, "We can not proceed with the logic saying: ‘Let everybody share the burden about the EU issue, but I will not.' We should all be ready to make sacrifices and share the burden."
Reminding that Tugrul Kutadgobilik had said in the opening speech "Involve us in the negotiating team", Bagis stated, "I never perceive you apart from the negotiating team. We do not want to be a member to the EU for ourselves, but we want this for Turkey. I think that this is a very important project for the next generations and I believe that, in Turkey, everyone from all walks of the society ranging from women to men, young to old, military to civilian, Kurd to Turk, Circassian to Laz, Alevi to Sunni and Muslim to Non-Muslim should all put their hearts and souls into this work."
Bagis said, "This work should be totally based upon the formula of ‘win win'. I believe that it is time everyone shared the burden and made sacrifices in this regard."
Bagis stated that Turkey had confronted significant unfair treatments during the negotiation process with the EU and added that some preconditions which had never been laid down to any other country were attempted to be laid down for Turkey by the EU. Bagis said that they had observed countries which spent efforts in order to lay down confidential criteria apart from the Acquis. Bagis emphasized that, since Turkey was a very important solution partner, when they took a look at the country which prevented the opening of the energy chapter, he pointed out that, a country in the middle of the Mediterranean which did not have any problems regarding energy had attempted to use as a shield the energy crisis of 490 million Europeans.
Bagis said, "We, as Turkey, have never been an element of threat. We have declared that we would be a part of the solution. But, it is a fact that we feel uneasy about the confidential conditions which do not exist in any part of the Acquis. Still, we put forward that we will not accept these."
Bagis said, "Actually, I believe that it is time EU considered the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital and produced solutions to the win win formulas." Stating that they did not want to see one more 50 years ahead, Bagis said that they wanted to proceed pertinaciously.