EU says looks to Turkey to help stabilize Mideast
President of the European Parliament has said the European Union is looking to Turkey to help stabilize the region shaken by instability and uprising since the start of this year Todayszaman reported
Jerzy Buzek, who is visiting Turkey this week, told Turkish deputies in Parliament on Thursday that he knows from his own experiences that a falling dictatorship is both dangerous and unpredictable, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is threatened by eight-month uprising that claimed nearly 4,000 lives. He said across the Eastern Mediterranean, not just in Syria, there are multiple flashpoints and that the 27-nation bloc is looking to Turkey to help stabilize the region.
He said in recent months, Turkey's leadership has stressed Turkey's support for the struggle for freedom across the North Africa and the Middle East and many in the Middle East regard Turkey as a source of inspiration of a successfully modernising society. He said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the first Muslim leader to tell Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to step down.
"Your leaders have travelled to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to promote the adoption of a constitution that secures secularism. And, more recently, you opened your doors, and hearts, to the Syrian opposition," he said.
Buzek said Turkey has a lot to offer the international community, stating that yet it is essential that Turkey and the EU work together to better co-ordinate foreign policies of Turkey and the EU.
He added that Turkey's economy has tripled in size over the past decade and that it has introduced important social reforms, such as the expansion of healthcare to cover the whole population. "Your secular democracy has become an inspiration for millions across Northern Africa and the Middle East seeking freedom from the authoritarian rule," he stressed.
Speaking about relations between the EU and Turkey, Buzek remained optimistic despite deadlock in membership talks in the past few years. He said Turkey has an important role to play and Greek Cyprus remains the last divided country in the European Union, adding that the EU also looks to Turkey to constructively help end this dispute.
"The tensions we have witnessed in the recent months between Turkey and Cyprus concern me greatly. I would like to reiterate the European Parliament's call on your government to continue to actively support the on-going negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. A fair and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, is now urgent," he said.
He underlined that in the current crucial phase of the peace process, all efforts and minds should focus on the comprehensive settlement, and should not be distracted from this priority. He said he trusts that Turkey, like the EU, will continue to give its total support in this final phase of the talks.
Buzek said a solution to the Cyprus problem would bring a welcome boost to Turkey's accession negotiations but he said it will also guarantee a bright future for all Cypriots. "This is in everyone's interest," he added.