Expressing that European Union reforms were not introduced to please the EU, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said, "We are introducing reforms because we believe that our own nation and people deserve to live in better standards. In this framework, Turkey is progressively becoming more democratic and more prosperous".
Bagis met with Ishak Alaton, chairman of the executive board of Alarko Holding and of Turkish-Swedish Business Council and members of the said Council over lunch. In his speech he made there, indicating Sweden was the country which gave most support to Turkey on its way to the EU, Bagis said that during his visit with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Sweden a while ago, they were glad seven political parties in the Swedish parliament declared that they would give full support to Turkey's EU membership.
Reminding Sweden was one of the countries which approached with concern to Turkey's EU membership in the past, Bagis stated that after 2002 elections, Swedish Ambassador to Turkey of that time visited Erdogan and told him that Minister of Interior of that time Anna Lindh wanted to pay a visit to Turkey and asked him if the permission to go to Diyarbakir which wasn't given previously could be granted.
Indicating that Erdogan in that meeting told Lindh he would give her permission to go to Diyarbakir provided that she would repeat this visit in the following years, Bagis noted that Lindh went to Diyarbakir and returned home contented but couldn't keep her promise to go to Diyarbakir once more since she was assassinated.
Indicating this visit was a turning point in relations between Turkey and Sweden, Bagis stated that Turkey attached importance to its relations with Sweden and Sweden was going to take over EU presidency in the second half of this year.
Declaring that evaluations regarding Cyprus issue would be prepared as of end of 2009 and that Swedish attitude towards opening of other expected negotiation chapters with EU was important, Minister for EU Affairs Bagis said, "Turkey's EU membership has become a common understanding which can unite east and west, Turk, Kurd, Circassian, Laz, military, civilian, Alevi, Sunni, Jew, Armenian, Muslim and Greek in Turkey and which can revive hopes of all sections of the Turkish society pertaining to themselves".
Stating that they attached great importance to collaborating with the business world and civil society organizations regarding Turkey's relations with EU, Bagis said that they would launch a project together with President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Rifat Hisarciklioglu, on the 9th of this month and they would give information about EU in different cities and he added that their first visit would be to Siirt.
Bagis continued his speech with the following:
"EU is a very important target. It is the most important modernization project after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic. I think, EU resembles to the dietician of Turkey. The dietician could have some health problems, if the dietician's prescription rendered 27 countries more prosperous, more democratic and more modern, then it is worth implementing it. We are not realizing the reforms in order to satisfy EU. We realize them because we believe that our nation deserves to live under much better standards. Within this framework, Turkey is becoming more democratized and prosperous each day. Not any EU member state has been divided, weakened and economically declined after membership."