Egemen Bagis: EU membership not the only way for Turkey
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 29
Despite that membership in the EU is beneficial for Turkey, this doesn’t mean that Ankara has no other way, former Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis said in his article, written for Trend.
“Today, the EU needs Turkey much more than Turkey needs the EU,” he said. “The EU must understand that abolishing the visa regime for Turkish citizens will foster positive attitude of the Turkish citizens towards the EU, which has lost their trust.”
In the EU statement, strict laws of Turkey in the fight against terrorism and allegedly the lack of democracy in the country are indicated as the main reason for not abolishing the visa regime with Ankara, Bagis noted.
“No one can say that democracy and freedom of speech in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are at a higher level than in Turkey,” he said. “But at the same time, the UAE citizens were granted permission last year for visa-free travel to the Schengen countries.”
He also stressed that Turkey has been a member of the Customs Union since 1996, and while the Turkish goods freely enter the EU market, producers of these goods are waiting for visas to travel to these countries, which is not fair and has no logical explanation.
“Before the Turkish coup d’état of 1980, the citizens of the country could travel without visas to most of the countries that are now members of the EU,” he added.
After the coup, a military junta, fearing that a number of citizens can leave the country and find political asylum in Europe, abolished the visa-free travel, which was in power within the framework of the 1963 Association Agreement between the European Economic Community (the EU’s former name) and Turkey, he said.
Bagis added that the principles of the EU should be priority for the Turkish state.
“In fact, the Turkish population will never accept some of the foundations and principles of the EU,” he said. “But in general, the implementation of the foundations and principles of the EU could raise democratic standards and human rights to a higher level, which would contribute to improving life in Turkey.”
When it comes to the refugee crisis, Bagis noted that this crisis has brought Turkey and the EU closer together.
“Despite that there are a number of problems in this sphere, significant progress has been made,” he said. “Combating the illegal flow of refugees has proved that both sides need each other and together can effectively work in this direction.”