Turkey belongs to Europe, says former Finnish president
Turkey belongs to Europe and Europe needs Turkey, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said Tuesday, Anadolu agency reported.
Ahtisaari was Finland's tenth president and also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
He made the remarks at a seminar titled "Together for Enhanced and More Stable Europe," which was organized in Ankara to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Turkish-Finnish Friendship Agreement.
"I have always believed in Turkey's growth in Europe and in Asia. Turkey has a huge potential for the two continents," he said.
Turkey and Finland are not only friends, but also strategic partners with strong ties, the former president said.
He added that his old government was very supportive of Turkey's accession to the EU.
Turkey's EU accession talks were launched in 2005.
Turkey must comply with 35 chapters setting out reforms needed to become an EU member. So far, only 14 have been opened, while 17 remain blocked and a further four are yet to be discussed.
"The EU is an authentic, but postponed success story. Europe is now a borderless continent. This is an unimaginable success; it is the most important global project," Abdullah Gul, Turkey's former president said.
Gul said Turkey's membership in the EU would be beneficial not only for Turkey, but also for the 28-member bloc.
"The EU is still struggling to be a strong foreign policy actor," he said, adding that the union should analyze its limits and get new members to become a global power.
If the EU becomes more introvert, it would lose its soft power compared to an outward looking and more heterogeneous union, he warned.
"We need an enhanced Europe more than ever," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Xenophobic and Islamophobic tendencies pose a serious threat to the EU's appeal based on its values, Cavusoglu added.
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja for his part said that Turkey and Finland have historical ties and the two can act together for a more prosperous Europe.
"The EU's neighborhood policy is not just keeping it European. The EU should stress the neighborhood policies better," Tuomioja said.