Turkey seekis to use influence on Middle East to join EU
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 21 / Trend , B.Hasanov/
Turkey hopes to use the country's increasingly important role in the Middle East to eliminate any obstacles to joining the EU.
"We must understand Ankara's active role in the Middle East not as renunciation of the EU, but rather as a means to simplifying the process of joining the organization," Center for European Policy Studies expert Zeynep Yanashmaya told Trend in a telephone conversation from Brussels on Jan. 21.
"If the EU does not speed up the negotiations despite our efforts, Turkey will not lose anything," Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyib Erdogan said at a news conference in Brussels. "The EU will lost out."
Erdogan said Turkey is maintaining a neutral role in the international community by developing projects with both Western and Islamic nations, the Turkish Haber 7 News Agency reported.
Relations between the EU and Turkey began after the Ankara Agreement in 1964.
After the EU announced that the 2002 Copenhagen criteria would be used as a measuring stick for granting future membership, Turkey implemented serious legal, political and economic reforms.
Turkey began official discussions with the EU on future membership in 2005.
Erdogan's last visit to Brussels, the heart of the EU, was meant to demonstrate the significance that Turkey attaches to joining the organization, Yanashmayan said.
By stressing its role in Middle East, Turkey wants to show the EU that it is an authoritative nation hoping to simplify and accelerate its membership process.
Turkey is trying to emphasize its importance for the EU, said International Relations Professor at Istanbul's Ishig University Bulent Aras.
"Turkey pursued more efficient policies during the recent developments in Gaza than the EU. Erdogan wanted Brussels to notice the country's importance," Aras told Trend in a telephone conversation from Istanbul on Jan. 21.
Swedish Institute of Security and Policy Development researcher Magnus Karaveli said the Turkish governing Justice and Development Party (JDP) is an Islamic party. It is only a matter of time, he said, before JDP joins forces with Middle Eastern countries and local Islamic groups.
Even if the Turkish government and the EU are interested in continuing joints projects, no one in the EU will treat Turkey's membership proposal seriously, he added.
"Finding good relations with the EU and showing Turkey's importance to the organization strengthens the ruling party's significance domestically," Karaveli told Trend in a telephone conversation from Stockholm on Jan. 21.
The EU, in turn, has the opportunity to take part in domestic issues in Turkey by continuing its membership negotiations with Ankara, he said.
After recent criticism about Ankara's passive nature in terms of possible future EU membership, the Turkish government formed a separate ministry to negotiate with the organization last week.
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