BAGIS ATTENDS ATC PANEL
Egemen Bagis, focusing on the fact that AK Party Government "does not have a secret agenda" about the EU, claimed that they are as much ambitious as before to go on forward with the EU process, and the last EU move to slow down the process did not astonish them.
(Washington, Anatolian News Agency, 09.01.2006, Deniz Arslan reporting:
Coming to Washington for the seminar, "Turkey- EU: Partnership, or Division?", arranged by the American-Turkish Council in Washington, Bagis expressed that he stated his personal views here.
Bagis said: "I do not want to hear anything by giving reference to the secret aims, or secret agenda since these have nothing to do with the AK Party government's EU tendency, claiming that Washington likes to speculate about "secret aims". Policies of the AK Party government are the continuation of 1963 Ankara Treaty, and the Westernization process since 1860's. We are continuing this inheritance.
After the move by the EU to slow down the negotiations, Bagis emphasized that Turkey is as much as enthusiastic at least before for the EU membership and that the reforms will keep its impetus.
Bagis said the main factor behind the standstill of the process is the EU itself which put forward the Cyprus issue, and Turkey-EU debate has been politicized. EU changed the destination after the game had started, and Turkey will open its ports providing the isolations of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is removed, Bagis maintained.
Bagis also focused that it is in the hands of the West to lose or win Turkey, and "Turkey is feasible and ambitious to be an equal and respected partner of the EU.
Bagis reminded the speech of new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, before the session of his approval in the Senate which was focusing on Turkey's contributions that were not appreciated enough. He also said that mature strategic partners do not need to appreciate or caress each other. Mature strategic partners need an active and potent cooperation to gain each other's mind, heart, and trust, Bagis claimed, and it will not be allowed anyone to pour a crocodile tears.
According to Bagis, it was disappointing to overlook or misread the democratic evolution of Turkey as well as democratic attitude of AK Party government. Bagis believed this can be emanated from the Cold War traditions, and actually Cold War should be put into the agenda of Turkey and asked its allies what the contributions and altruisms of Turkey are in Cold War era.
EU cannot be in secure by ignoring the instability in the Middle East, and Union needs strategic partnerships rather than artificial buffer zones. Bagis likened Turkey-EU process to his own diet program and said: "Turkey realizes the necessity for its own sake to throw some weights away."
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza who is responsible for Europe and Eurasia stated in his speech in the seminar that there is an unfairness perception in Turkey about the EU attitude which he does not see the case like this.
Bryza claimed that the EU eventually has not stopped the negotiations with Turkey, or gave an ultimatum as well; it only slowed the negotiations down reminding the Europe's resistance against the Turks since 600 years. Bryza said that there is an expectation in the EU from Turkey to fulfill the obligations which is obviously opening the ports. Also, there is an expectation in Turkey which is removing the isolations of the Cypriot Turks as well. However, these are all in the EU bureaucracy, and once the tires start to circle whole EU follow to implement that resolution. EU wants Turkey to be a member.
Bryza said: "I cannot exert pressure on the EU Comission, it is not necessary anyhow. Commission is already doing whatever it can." as an answer to the press's assertations that make Bryza laughing which are claiming that Bryza is putting pressure on the EU Commission himself for Turkey's membership.
"Hoping not to be too optimistic; but Turkey is actually in a good position that it has ever experienced. I want to say without using stereotypes: Turkey's EU bid is really in the hands of itself." Bryza said.
Bryza explained the U.S aims as revitalizing the UN process on Cyprus, appreciating the difficulty in making progress in the EU process at that time which refers to the election period, and the perceptions of the EU which supposedly see Turkey as having lost its enthusiasm about the EU membership.
Bryza also mentioned the PKK terrorism in his speech, and admitted that they should do more things in order to remove the terrorist threat of Turkey.
Bryza claimed: " I understand the exhaustion of Turkey's patience, thus I cannot accuse them. However, appointment of the retired general Joseph Ralston has a special importance for struggling the PKK." having expressed that U.S did many things with its European allies on this issue; but they should do more.
Bryza also uttered that the voice of four-star generals which are the senior military authorities is always heard better in Pentagon even though they are retired.
"Yes, there are many strained conditions and strong debates. You can characterize these as cacophony, or a flash in the pan. However, these debates are the necessity of democracy. People are speculating about the essence of the AK Party. My view is that AK Party is a party which was elected by the public." Bryza claimed after saying secular democracy in Turkey is going well.
"Turkey is significant because it is secular democracy. Therefore, as long as it bases its politics on secular and democratic principles, Turkey will keep its strategic importance." Bryza maintained.