"I SEE THE EU AS TURKEY'S DIETICIAN"
Holding a press conference in Brussels, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis assessed the contacts made and the EU process; and upon a question asking how will the process be affected with the appointment of a new Chief Negotiator he told that:
"A new EU Chief Negotiator was appointed but the work has nothing to do with the persons themselves. I do not want to directly refer somebody but I know that some groundless news have been written down as 'he didn't not want to give up his position; he preceded the other...etc.' AKP proves to be different in this way. In the handover ceremony, we did not behave as a successor and a predecessor but conducted it brotherly. This is our perspective. I have been working within this team for seven years. The positions may change but the works done have always been complementary. I mean it is not related with the personal views but with the interests of Turkey. We will take the necessary steps to serve the interests of Turkey. This is not an issue how and by whom these steps are taken".
In terms of foreign policy, Turkey is one of the busiest countries of the world. Turkey is responsible for the Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. On the other hand stand the EU negotiations. Moreover, it is a member of UN Security Council and we know its expansion to Africa. Asia Pacific Countries Summit is also being organised. At one hand, Turkey tries to establish a bridge between the West and the Islamic world and on the other hand tries to prevent the clash of civilisations which became a nightmare of the world with the Alliance of Civilisations Project. While carrying out all these tasks, we shared the burden in order not to allow only one person labor under this burden. However, we all represent the AKP will that was voted by one of the two electors in Turkey. We do not regard that the EU Project is belonging to only one party. We take it as a common denominator of Turkey and in this context we expect support from everybody."
Upon the question: "Did it take 4 years to realize this intensity in the foreign policy?" Egemen Bagis replied that "it took 6 years to achieve this intensity in the foreign policy. Before 2002, Turkey was a country which had bad neighbourhood relations. In those times, children were educated that Turkey is a country surrounded by the sea in three directions but by the enemies in all directions. Some things changed and it took that much to achieve this intensity. What is needed is being done."
Underlying the direct relation between the EU membership project with the future of modern Turkey Egemen Bagis told that "this is not a project of Egemen, Ahmet, or Oguz. It is a project of whole Turkey, especially of our children and the young. We need the support of everybody. Everybody should take responsibility".
Bagis stated that he sees "EU, as the Turkey's dietician" and added that "to become healthier, it is necessary to be well-nourished, to lose weight, to make sports and to follow the prescriptions of the doctor".
Bagis, "Prescription of EU is a tried, running prescription. The person writing the prescription may also have health problems or sometimes he may not be in the consulting room on time. These do not mean that the prescriptions are wrong. Turkey should apply this prescription in order not to be the sick man of Europe. In this issue, I am always open to opinions and suggestions of everybody".
Bagis expressed his pleasure that in his contacts with the EU authorities he felt a positive approach towards Turkey and that they have been affected by the reforms realized in the last weeks. He also added that the idea of establishing a Ministry responsible only for the EU affairs has been taken positively in Brussels.
Bagis stated that he asked for an appointment with the leaders of the opposing parties in the TGNA to discuss the EU process and to take support; and he received positive signals. He added that he wanted to realize these meetings when he returned back to Turkey.
In his first Cabinet meeting Bagis, requested from the Cabinet members that they visit Brussels often and discuss their fields of work with the corresponding colleagues in Europe. He stated that his request received positive reactions.
Egemen Bagis stated that they are continuing their efforts to encourage more participation from the NGOs to the EU process, to restructure the Secretariat General for EU Affairs and to explain EU process both at home and outside.
Bagis told that the speech of the Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in Brussels regarding the Nabucco Project was misinterpreted by the European press and he emphasized that "starting the negotiations with the EU in the energy chapter is not a prerequisite for the Nabucco project".
Bagis stated that Erdogan expressed his discomfort about the blocking stance of a small EU Member State for the energy chapter which has no opening criteria but is closely related with the entire EU with a population of 500 million, even though the mentioned country is not being affected negatively in any way by the recent natural gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine. Bagis added that "the only obstacle before Nabucco is not the energy chapter but also the problems of supply, security and cost. Have we solved these problems and does only the energy chapter stand before us? If Turkey would not attach importance to Nabucco, would it carry out many contacts in all levels, including the President?"
Bagis emphasized that since the beginning Turkey has been demanding from its European partners to "play the game by the rules" in the EU process, and will itself also obey the rule and will not play trump on any field including the energy.
Upon a question asking the reactions in EU for the Turkey's being one of the countries that gave the sharpest reaction against the Israel's attacks to Gaza, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator stated that:
"In fact many European politicians appreciate the opinions of our Prime Minister that he put forth sincerely, frankly and heartily. This is because our Prime Minister does not behave as a party for or against somebody but he exerts efforts to prevent more blood, and to heal the bleeding wound. None of the leaders would spend the New Year's Eve on the roads of Syria, Jordan".
Bagis stated that "protecting the regional peace" has the priority among the intensive efforts exerted by our Prime Minister after the attacks to Gaza; he also added that in the Middle East where all kinds of war have been witnessed, different ways of peace should be sought".
Egemen Bagis told that "in the Middle East all kinds of war that can be thought like hot wars, cold wars, espionage wars, guerrilla wars have been experienced but different ways of diplomacy have not been tried. Turkey tries to realize this. The biggest contribution of Turkey to the World civilizations is this".
Bagis stated that Turkey being a European, Asian, Mediterranean, Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasian country with its historical prosperity and having a past cradling many civilisations gathering people from various religions and cultures in peace will continue to exert efforts for peace putting forth these features as differentiating factors. Bagis continued that:
"We don't want the children die in Gaza. It is not important which nation or religion they belong to. They should not die even they are Muslims, Jewish or Christian. Efforts of our Prime Minister have their basis on this. He exerts efforts sincerely and heartily. He does not conceal his opinions. As he also said, our Prime Minister does not have a secret agenda.
When Israel demanded assistance from us, we had 5 rounds of meetings to mediate them with Syria. That was also done for the sake of peace. As you know, upon the request of Pakistan, diplomatic relations were launched in Istanbul, not in Tel Aviv or Karachi. We were involved in that process also; Turkey was the hosting country. It was at such a point that when the two soldiers of Israel were kidnapped, the first country that Israel asked for help was Turkey. However, when the before mentioned Israel attempted to occupy Lebanon, the first country that the Prime Minister of Lebanon called and asked for help was Turkey. When the fourteen English soldiers were kidnapped by the Iranians, one of the leaders that Tony Blair called at first hand and asked for help was our Prime Minister. And if these 14 soldiers are free now, Abdullah Gül who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs a hat time and our Prime Minister has great contributions to this".
Bagis pointed that Turkey exerts every kind of effort to establish peace not only for issues concerning the West and Islamic world but also for bilateral problems such as the conflicts in Georgia.
Minister for EU Affairs and EU Chief Negotiator Bagis stated that "behind the scolds of our Prime Minister in fact lays the world's voice of conscience".