Speaking at the panel discussion titled as "Where is Turkey going?" in Europe Albach Forum in Austria, Egemen Bagis, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, said that Turkey was progressing towards more democracy, more human rights and more stability.
Bagis stated that Turkey has turned toward Europe for a thousand year and added that, after coming to Anatolia from the Central Asia, Turkey had turned her direction to Europe and had reached Vienna. Bagis said: "This time we will go to Brussels".
Bagis said "We know that accession to EU will not be realized very soon and that it is an open ended process." He emphasized that they wanted frankness, clarity and fair play in that process.
Bagis referred to US President Barack Obama's election slogan "We Can Do it" and said "Europe needs Turkey. Similarly, Turkey need Europe. We can accomplish Turkey's accession together."
During the questions part of the panel discussion, Bagis, in response to a question, stated that the opinion of Turkish people regarding the EU changed frequently because of the unstable attitude adopted by the EU towards Turkey, and said "when I, as the Minister of State for EU Affairs, commission a questionnaire asking 'do you want accession to the EU?' 60 percent answer positively. But when we formulate the question as "do you believe that the EU will accept Turkey as a member?" only 40 percent answer positively."
Answering another question, Bagis reminded that the party which did not want a solution in Cyprus was the Greeks and in the referendum 65 percent of Cypriot Turks voted 'yes' to the Annan Plan whereas 65 percent of Cypriot Greeks voted 'no,' and he said "I think we should be aware of a fact. If we open a world map, how many people in Europe can locate Cyprus?"
Bagis stated that Turkey and Turkish Cypriots made great contributions to the solution of the Cyprus issue and "made efforts for a comprehensive and permanent solution, and it is not fair always to bring the Cyprus issue on the agenda to hinder the negotiation process of Turkey."
Regarding the accession of Turkey, Bagis said "if we and the EU are ready, accession can ne accomplished. But, we demand frankness and fair play in the process."
In addition to Bagis, retired Ambassador Volkan Vural, member of advisory board of TÜSİAD and author Buket Uzuner from Turkey, and Werner Auli, director of ÖMV, the partner of Petroleum Office form Austria attended the forum.
The panel discussion was held at Alpbach Congress Center before an audience of 500 including Turks and Austrians, politicians, diplomats, businessmen and university students.
Following the panel discussion, Minister Bagis, Turkish Ambassador Selim Yenel and the panelists attended the reception held by the Central Bank of Austria.