Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said: "We got rid of the excuses, trumps that the Europeans have been putting forward for 45 years. We realized the reforms and as they had no more excuses, EU had to give us a negotiation date."
In the opening speech of the panel titled: "Our Common Future, European Union" organized with the contributions of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, Kayseri Chamber of Industry, Secretariat General for EU Affairs, and Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey; Bagis said that the EU process in Turkey was no more an issue just discussed by the elites in five-star hotels.
Bagis stated that the EU project was also discussed in Kayseri, Yozgat, Siirt, Artvin and Edirne; and now, 81 provinces of Turkey were benefiting from EU funds in various ways. Bagis added:
"Today, infrastructure works have been carried out with the EU funds in different parts of Turkey. Projects are being developed and trainings are being carried out in order to integrate disabled people into society and to ensure a higher participation of young people and women into economy. These are not only realized in our big cities, actually in all parts of Turkey. This proves that the EU Project has now been the common excitement for all Turkey. Now, I am talking about a project, which has become a common excitement for the citizens of Turkey with its women and men, the young and the old, its soldiers and the civil, Kurdish people, Turks, Circassians, Bosnians, the Alivi and the Sunni, the Moslem and the Non-Muslim."
In his speech, Bagis emphasized that the Turkish private sector was the most important trump of Turkey and he added:
"We carry out the EU process together with our private sectors, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, media and academy world; because EU process is a common process for all of us."
Bagis expressed that some countries laid embargo or vetoed some of the chapters. He added: "there is no political embargo on social policy and employment chapters. Amendment of the Trade Unions Law is one of the opening criteria of this chapter. Today, trade unions law of Turkey and the working conditions are below the European standards. Moreover, trade unions law neither protects our employee's rights, nor it ensures confidence for the employer. During the alteration process, both parties can have acquisitions but they should make sacrifices also."
Bagis declared that the environment chapter was also thought to be opened in this term. He added: "We really want to open the environment chapter and we work on it. Our Ministry of Environment prepared an action plan of 1400 pages. The second draft prepared after being compared with the European standards by the European authorities has been presented to the European Commission as of today."
Bagis emphasized the importance he attached to the judicial reform. He stated: "In next term, we have to prepare judicial reform strategy which suits Turkey. Rule of law is really important; and with the new law on the organization of the General Secretariat for EU Affairs, we establish a new department for the EU law. Perhaps, for the first time in the public sector there will be a separate department specializing in the EU law."
Bagis explained that within the framework of the legal principles, a new democratic expansion is being worked on together with all the legal institutions, political parties, chambers and think thanks. Stating that this was thought to be an EU obligation Bagis added:
"I think it's funny. It's a very important process for Turkey's own welfare and peace. Also, it's very important in terms of eliminating the power of some people and groups benefiting from the terror in Turkey. I hope that at the end of this process, nobody will exploit the others by hiding behind some values and by putting forward the race, ethnic background, language, and believes of people. I believe that it is time to prove we can come together in good times as we did in hard times.
In this context, I think that nobody has the right to interfere our ideas. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters; and I hope that we will overcome these problems depending on our belief that it is a common right of us to live in high standards in a more modern country in our common future. I invite all of you in Turkey to contribute this period."
Bagis reminded that EU member states also experienced this process in their past and he continued:
"We will of course continue to present a solid position in the negotiations. We'll carry out the negotiations both by keeping our attitude in Davos and by benefiting from the technique and the fidelity of our people in Kayseri. Nobody can say that Turkey accepts everything presented before it; but the logic always tells the truth. All of us should accept that some mistakes have been done in Turkey and some changes are needed."