PM Erdoğan says Turkey not giving up on EU membership goal

Türkiye Materials 31 October 2012 00:34 (UTC +04:00)

Amid mounting questions over the new orientation and preferences of Turkish foreign policy, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, currently in Berlin as part of an official visit, said Turkey has not abandoned its main goal of EU membership, Todayszaman reported.

Speaking on Tuesday, he said Turkey has not given up on its primary goal of membership because it believes in the prospect and success of the EU. The remarks were delivered after the opening of Turkey's new embassy in Berlin, the Muslim-majority country's largest diplomatic office abroad. Some 3 million Turks live in Germany.

Despite the fact that Berlin is a young city in Europe in comparison to Rome and İstanbul, Erdoğan said, it developed at an incredible speed and became the center of Europe. He argued that Germany bears great significance for its role as a starting point for the European Union project.

Erdoğan underlined that both Turkey and the EU would gain from Ankara's accession, adding that blocking Turkey's membership negotiations on political motives benefits neither side.

The Turkish prime minister pointed out that the festering economic crisis shows that the EU project will be more important. "In this regard, we [Turkey] believe that the EU must revisit and reconsider its relations with Turkey from a strategic point of view ... while keeping the enlargement process intact."

These remarks conflict with the recent foreign policy outlook of the government. Prime Minister Erdoğan did not voice any hope for Turkey's EU membership bid during a key speech he made at his party's much-anticipated congress late September.

The leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Erdoğan, who presented his party's political vision for 2023 and touched upon many foreign policy issues, made no mention of Turkey's decade-old EU accession process even though there was -- albeit small -- a reference in the prepared text of his speech.

Experts interpret this to mean that Turkey has begun to lose its will and determination for membership.

In the meantime, Germany's foreign minister has called for a fresh effort to restart the stalled talks on Turkey joining the European Union.

Guido Westerwelle said at the opening ceremony that it is in the interest of both the EU and Turkey to give the talks a "new push" in 2013.

Erdoğan also appealed to Turks living in Germany, urging them to integrate and preserve unity and solidarity. He added that nearly 3 million Turks living in Germany constitute one of the most essential elements of the relations between the two countries.

"You should not have the slightest problem when it comes to integration. Education is still crucial for the Turkish community to be able to participate in all facets of life. We want all Turks in Germany to speak both Turkish and German fluently because we believe that bilingualism is a richness and we encourage it," he said.