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Hürriyet - April 23, 2011

by Çağla Pınar Tunçel

The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs to be part of the bloc, Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks said Thursday in Istanbul.

“Turkey is not a candidate for the EU just for the sake of it,” State Minister Egemen Bağış said, adding that Turkey did not desperately need to join the 27-member union.

The EU is facing many problems, such as energy crisis, old population, and economic problems, Bağış said. “Unemployment is at the highest level in their history, they are suffering from economic problems and the population is aging; they are also dealing with an energy crisis.”

While the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 does not include Turkey, it is not a sign that the country will not become a member of the EU, he said.

“The budget has not been finalized yet and it is not a sign that our country will not be member of the EU; on the other hand, even if [Turkey had been included in the budget], it would not have been proof that Turkey would be a member either,” the state minister said.

“The European Union is based on reconciliation and devotion. If the reconciliation is reached, the most difficult technical problems could be solved in one night, however if the reconciliation does not exist [there will be significant problems and obstacles],” Bağış told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

“The EU will consider its budget; if it accepts our membership, they will re-configure the budget and the necessary solution will be made. If Turkey becomes part of the EU in 2014 it will receive 6.5 billion euros in the first year; by the end of 2024, this amount will be 16.5 billion euros,” Bağış said.

“It does not matter whether Turkey is in the budget or not, but reaching the potential in order to be in the budget is important,” said Turkey’s EU negotiator. “No text can be counted as a holy book; they were written by the people and can be changed by the people.”

In reply to a question whether the latest crisis over the Supreme Election Board, or YSK’s, initial decision to veto 12 mostly Kurdish candidates’ bid to run in Parliament could affect the country’s EU membership process, he said: “I do not believe that it will be a problem, as long as Turkey can prove the presence of the supremacy of law. They will observe our country and the process.”

Touching on April 24, during which Armenians remember the deaths of their kin during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire in what they term the Armenian genocide, Bağış said that unlike other ruling parties in Turkish history, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was sending a letter to Armenia marking the occasion for the first time.

“We opened our archives to the public. We told [Armenia] that it is your turn, we added that we are ready to face with our history, but unfortunately Armenia was not ready. We reaffirm our message today,” he said.

“They may bring up the archives, they may establish a commission including academics, historians, anthropologists, political scientists. We could ask Germany, which was the closest ally of the Ottoman Empire at that time, to open its archive, or the archive of United Kingdom which was one of the most active countries at that time. We could ask the United States or Russia,” said Bağış.

Bağış said Turkey needed an academic report that would be considered directly by the politicians, “but Armenia did not approve our suggestion,” he said. “We will not let a country that cannot face its own history make a fait accompli on the issue.”


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