Turkey’s EU Membership to Embody Qualitative Expansion: Former FM

Politics Materials 31 October 2008 14:07 (UTC +04:00)

Israel, Jerusalem, 31 October / Trend corr. A.Gut/ "Azerbaijan is our strategic and friendly country. The two countries maintain deep historic relations, formed over many hundreds of years," former Speaker of the Turkish Parliament and former Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin said to Trend .

According to Cetin, today Azerbaijan is implementing international geoeconomic projects together with Turkey. "The projects of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway provide for a new stage of development in the region," Cetin said.

As to the prospects of Turkey's joining the European Union, Cetin said the key goal of Kemal Ataturk was to completely transform the Turkish society on the basis of Turkish national values into a completely secular, civilized and industrial state.

According to former FM, any leader may pursue this goal, but Ataturk's plan was so deep and his steps to implement the plan were so resolute and successive that the Turkish experience was probably unprecedented.

"Turkey's integration with Europe was also Ataturk's goal. Certainly, during these dramatic 85 years of the world history, including two world wars, we have experienced a plenty of ascents and descents. But I think the Turkish society has proved that it is moving towards the goal very successively and firmly," said Cetin.

"Forty-five years ago Turkey established associated cooperation with the United Europe - the agreement of 1963 legally proved that Turkey is a European country and has prospects for membership," Cetin said.

"The association included gradual steps, for instance a customs union, which were a great challenge to Turkey but were intended to enable country's membership after a certain while. Therefore, the discussion whether Turkey is a European or an Asian country are completely irrelevant," he said.

"Turkey also has been a very successive NATO country, a member of the Council of Europe. Owing to this, Turkey's democratic values became more mature. There are thousands of technical issues to be considered," he said.

"I have an impression that not only EU but a much larger range of countries will gradually show more enthusiasm to complete Turkey's joining the organization. No one can really allow such an important issue to remain suspended for a long period. EU will probably need Turkey even more in ten years in terms of security and economy," said Cetin.

Cetin believes Turkey's integration with EU is a historic conceptual break-through. "There are many grounds for this prospect - cultural and mental commonality of Turkey and Europe is of the same importance as the religious and several cultural differences, which should not be the reason of prejudices and which are currently taken as an additional value of the European cultures," said Turkish politician.

Given Turkey's geopolitical significance and the critical weight of the country in security issues, as well as in the diplomatic world, Turkey's membership will embody mostly qualitative not quantitative expansion of the European Union, he said.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]