Journalists From The EU

11.05.2010
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Journalists From The EU

THE IRISH TIMES
GUL ASKS EU TO REFLECT ON ACCEPTİNG TURKİSH ACCESSİON
STEPHEN COLLINS in Ankara
Wed, May 12, 2010

THE EU has to decide if it is a closed political entity with fixed borders for eternity or whether it has a 50-year strategic vision, Turkish president Abdullah Gul has said.

Reflecting growing scepticism in Turkey about the prospects of EU membership, the president yesterday said countries such as France and the Netherlands had decisions to make about their strategic vision for the future.

"If you come to the conclusion that Turkey will be a burden on you or the EU, you should not be forced to accept Turkey as a member of the EU," he said.

President Gul was responding to the negative view of his country's accession ambitions expressed by President Nicolas Sarkozy and some Dutch politicians.

Speaking to a group of foreign journalists in the Turkish capital, Ankara, the president said that EU membership was still a significant goal for Turkey but internal reform was the primary objective.

"We are undertaking these reforms because first and foremost they are in the interests of our own people," he said. "Secondly it is a goal for accession to the EU."

President Gul said there was a strong awareness that many reforms still needed to be made but they were determined to overcome the defects that were holding back such reform.

"EU membership is not the ultimate goal," he added. "The ultimate goal is to give our people what they deserve: the highest standards possible. The entire negotiating process for us is a process of upgrading our standards."

A senior official in the Turkish foreign ministry, Selim Yenel, gave a blunt assessment of the impact the negative attitude of some EU countries such as France and Germany was having on Turkey's prospects of joining.

"The most damaging part is that people in Turkey don't care any more," he said. "People still want it to happen but they don't believe it will. The EU is not a priority for people any more."

Mr Yenel said, however, that the reforms would continue because they were necessary for Turkey and were good for the people. "The momentum for political reform is still there whether we get into the EU or not."

He added that the goal of full membership still remained and while it was not going to happen any time soon, Turkey had still not given up.

He attributed to opposition of France and Germany to the simple fact that the accession of Turkey would introduce a new big power into the EU and that might challenge the dominance of the Franco-German axis.

"We understand Sarkozy's worry," he said. "He doesn't want another rival. He thinks Turkey will be another UK but we intend to strengthen not weaken the EU."

Mr Yenel said the French had not been amused by the show of strength demonstrated by the Poles when they joined the EU and they felt it would be even more so with Turkey.

"Turkey has changed and is a lot more self confident politically, economically and in every other way," he added.
The EU ambassador to Turkey, Marc Pierini, gave a similar assessment. He said the main problem about Turkish accession as far as France and Germany were concerned was that it would upset the balance of power in the EU.

"It comes down to voting strength. Turkey would be the biggest country in the EU and France and Germany would be upstaged," Mr Pierini said.

The Times


ANKARA TURNS AWAY AS EU AMBITIONS FADE
TURKEY'S PRESIDENT PRESIDENT ABDULLAH GUL. RESISTANCE TO EU MEMBERSHIP IS FORCING ANKARA TO LOOK TO THE MUSLIM WORLD


Charles Bremner in Ankara
May 13, 2010

Turkey is growing impatient with being cold-shouldered by the European Union, and resistance to its bid for membership is stoking Ankara's ambition to turn towards the Muslim world.

President Gül said that the EU and its leaders stood at an historic crossroads and had to decide whether or not to welcome Turkey in.

"They are at a point where they need to decide whether the Union is a closed entity, whether the current borders of the EU will define it for eternity, or whether it should plan 50 years ahead and think of its grandchildren, the future," he told The Times and other European newspapers in his hillside palace.

The President, who hails from the Islamist AK (Justice and Development) party, voiced frustration with the near-freeze in Turkey's accession talks with the EU, which opened in 2005. He was scathing over what he said was the EU's use of the dispute over Turkish northern Cyprus to stall discussions with Brussels. Turkey, the only country to recognise northern Cyprus as a state, could not accept northern Cypriots being treated "like criminals, murderers and money-launderers", he said.
He was also critical of the outright opposition voiced by President Sarkozy of France to Turkish membership and the coolness received from Chancellor Merkel of Germany. Mr Sarkozy's argument, shared less openly by many other continental politicians, is that the EU's frontier must never extend into Asia Minor.

The President emphasised Turkey's continuing desire to enter the EU as a full member, but his tone reflected a new assertiveness in Ankara since the AK Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, began aggressively cultivating friendship with Iran, the Arab world, Africa and Latin America.

With strong economic growth and a population rising above 73 million, Turkey increasingly believes that it can do without full membership of an organisation with which it already enjoys free trade.

Supporters of Turkish membership — which now seems unlikely before 2020 — see the emergence of a big Muslim-inspired democracy as a boon for the West and a bridge to the Islamic world. Britain and the United States are largely in this camp. Others view Turkey's movement away from secularism as a retreat from the Western model that the country, a member of Nato for almost 60 years, has followed for decades.

"Turkey is becoming less and less European. On foreign policy we are moving away from our European position," said Onur Öymen, deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).


El PAİS
ENTREVISTA: COOPERACIÓN EN EL MEDITERRÁNEO ABDULÁ GÜL PRESIDENTE DE TURQUÍA
"ATENAS Y ANKARA TIENEN QUE COMPARTIR LA SOLUCIÓN PARA CHIPRE"
JUAN CARLOS SANZ (ENVIADO ESPECIAL) 
Ankara - 15/05/2010


El emblema de la presidencia turca, una estrella de 16 puntas rodeada por otras tantas estrellas, y no uno de los omnipresentes retratos de Mustafá Kemal, preside la sala de recepciones del palacio de Çankaya, en lo alto de una boscosa colina de Ankara. Antes de llegar al lugar elegido por Atatürk en 1923 para construir su residencia en la nueva capital del país, Abdulá Gül (Kayseri, 1950) tuvo que batallar contra el aparato laico del Estado, reacio a permitir la entrada de su esposa, Hayrünisa, cubierta con el velo islámico en el centro más emblemático del poder en la Turquía moderna.

Gül recibió el martes a EL PAÍS junto a un grupo de periodistas europeos con un nada velado mensaje de insatisfacción sobre el lento proceso de las negociaciones para la adhesión de Turquía a la UE y con una invitación a Grecia para cooperar en la solución del conflicto de Chipre. Tras la intervención militar turca de 1974, la isla aún sigue dividida, y su integración en la UE 30 años después sólo es efectiva en el territorio greco-chipriota del sur.

"Hay países de la UE que se escudan en el conflicto de Chipre para frenar nuestro proceso de adhesión", advierte Gül, "pero Turquía no puede aceptar que los habitantes del norte de Chipre sean tratados como criminales y blanqueadores de dinero". El llamado Protocolo Adicional de Ankara obliga a Turquía a reconocer a la República de Chipre (de Gobierno greco-chipriota) y permitir el acceso a sus barcos y aeronaves al territorio turco. El acuerdo no se ha cumplido.

"Acataremos el Protocolo de Ankara cuando se levante el embargo que pesa sobre el norte de la isla y la discriminación sobre sus habitantes", argumenta el presidente. "La actual situación es mala para Turquía, pero también lo es para la UE. Grecia y Turquía deben compartir la solución del conflicto de Chipre".

El veto del Gobierno de Nicosia y las reticencias de Francia mantienen bloqueados la mayoría de los capítulos negociadores abiertos por Turquía en Bruselas. Tras el fracaso del referéndum organizado por la ONU en la isla en 2004, Gül confía ahora en buscar una "perspectiva mediterránea" para que Atenas y Ankara impulsen las conversaciones sobre reunificación de las comunidades greco-chipriota y turco-chipriota.

A pesar de los escollos, el presidente turco sostiene que el objetivo estratégico de su país es ser miembro de pleno derecho de la UE: "Estamos haciendo reformas por el interés de nuestro propio pueblo, pero sabemos que son necesarias para conseguir entrar en la UE. Todo el proceso de negociación es también un proceso para mejorar nuestro país". Gül recurre así al ideario de Atatürk como padre fundador de Turquía para defender la búsqueda de "los estándares más altos" para sus ciudadanos. "La democracia, la libertad de empresa, los derechos humanos... representan para nosotros una gran transformación".

Gül, que acaba de dar luz verde a la convocatoria de un referéndum para una reforma parcial de la Constitución, reconoce que su primera recomendación a los partidos fue la redacción de una nueva Constitución. "Pero la atmósfera política no lo ha permitido", matiza. "Los principios democráticos, del Estado laico, las libertades y los derechos humanos van a ser respetados".

Sin citar a Angela Merkel y Nicolas Sarkozy, el presidente turco asegura: "La UE tiene que decidir si se va a convertir en una entidad política cerrada, con unas fronteras fijadas para la eternidad, o si tiene una visión estratégica de futuro, para dentro de 50 años, para la Europa de sus nietos".

La parálisis de las negociaciones para la adhesión de Turquía a la UE siembran, mientras tanto, el desencanto europeo entre la ciudadanía. Las últimas encuestas hablan por sí solas. El 53% de los turcos está a favor de la entrada en la UE, frente al 37% que se opone. Sin embargo, en 2002, cuando el Partido de la Justicia y el Desarrollo (islamista moderado) del presidente Gül llegó al poder, un 70% de los consultados estaba a favor frente a sólo un 15% de rechazo.
"Turquía está cambiando", alega. Desde la firma de la Unión Aduanera con la UE hace 15 años, la economía turca se ha convertido en una potencia regional. Y de la mano del desarrollo, el Gobierno de Ankara comienza a ejercer un cada vez más intenso papel de mediador en las relaciones entre sus vecinos.

FINANCIAL TIMES
TURKS DELIGHT IN SHOWING STRENGTHS TO EU

By David Gardner in Ankara
May 16 2010
Europe day, which this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Schuman declaration that set Europe on its trundling course towards union, was celebrated with some effusion last week in Turkey - at least publicly. In Istanbul, a suspension bridge across the Bosphorus was lit up in the blue and yellow colours of the EU flag. In Ankara, the EU and omnipresent Turkish flags were knotted together around lampposts.

The bunting speaks more of protocol and a brittle politesse, however, than Turkey's fading conviction that its effort to join the EU, stuck in a mire of Euro-diffidence, is really destined to prosper.

A dynamic and growing economy, a constitutional revolution expanding democratic rights and an activist foreign policy establishing Turkey as a regional power have imbued Turks with a new self-confidence. But are they turning their backs on the EU?

Much has been made of the purported "neo-Ottomanism" of foreign policy under Ahmet Davutoglu, the new foreign minister, and the new coolness towards Europe of the ruling and neo-Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdogan the prime minister. On the face of it, Turkey is playing hard to get. Of the 100 trips Mr Davutoglu made in his first year, 46 were in Europe; most of the rest were to the Middle East and neighbouring countries. "AKP people feel more comfortable in Damascus than Rome", says Hakan Yilmaz of Bosphorus University. "The new elites want the best of both worlds."

There are a number of reasons for the turn eastwards, none of them to do with the re-creation of empire. During the cold war, Turkey's role within Nato was to guard the eastern marches. On its end, the Balkans, central Asia and the Caucasus, and the broader Middle East reopened as a natural region of influence for Turkey. This is being driven by interests more than ideology. Turkey has also just opened more than 30 new embassies in Africa and Latin America. Aircraft from Istanbul to all points of Asia are full. This is not the return of the Ottomans but a commercial comeback - timed to pick up the slack from recession in the EU.

Turkey sees itself as a regional power as well, and is determined to show the EU two things: that it has options and, unlike the EU, it knows how to deploy "soft power" in Europe's Middle Eastern backyard. In short, that it is an asset. "Turkey is using the transformative power of the European Union, which the EU itself appears to have lost," says Ayhan Kaya of Istanbul's Bilgi University.

The EU's freeze on all but four chapters of the accession talks, and the open hostility towards Turkey-in-Europe of some member states - Germany and France think it is too big, too poor and too Muslim to absorb - rankles. "How do you want me to convince my party when [Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [President Nicolas] Sarkozy keep telling me I don't belong," Mr Erdogan keeps complaining, according to Marc Pierini, the EU's ambassador to Ankara. There are barbs aplenty, especially for Mr Sarkozy. "We understand his problem, he doesn't want another rival, another UK, as it were, inside the EU," says Selim Yenel, undersecretary at the foreign ministry.

Yet all sides recognise there are things happening in Turkey that would not if there were no accession process - from the deepening of democracy to a transformation of industry that is now a key component of Europe's competitiveness. The European Investment Bank has tripled its investment in Turkish infrastructure and development to €2.7bn ($3.3bn, £2.3bn) a year. There are 12,600 EU companies in Turkey, 4,000 of them German, including Mercedes and Renault, Airbus and Siemens. "The Turkey that will have completed accession negotiations will be greatly different to the Turkey of today, just as today it has been transformed from the Turkey of 10 years ago," says Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president.

Turkey is being transformed, the president says, and he acknowledges that the drive for EU membership "has been the dynamo that drives the reform process". But, he asks, "Does [the EU] have a strategic outlook? Can it plan 50 years ahead and think of its grandchildren?" A good question.
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