Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the European Union (EU) should remove the political obstacles placed by certain member states hindering Turkey’s negotiation process with the union, while reaffirming Turkey’s commitment to the membership process.
In a statement to mark Europe Day, Çavusoglu said, “The European project, enabling countries to join under common values, has demonstrated that conflicts could be ended and peace, stability, and increasing welfare could come to our continent.”
“Turkey, having a history and vision of the future, has strategically chosen the EU and continues its efforts to join with the EU. With reforms made in many areas Turkey indicates its decisiveness and strong will to join the union,” he added.
Turkey was an associate member of the European Economic Community (EEC), a predecessor organization to the EU, from 1963. Turkey applied for formal membership into EEC in 1987 under Turgut Ozal’s government, a liberal-conservative oriented leadership.
Turkey’s integration process with the EU accelerated during the 1990s, particularly after agreeing to a customs union in 1995. In 1999 the Helsinki European Council of the EU decided to recognise Turkey as an equal candidate with other potential candidates.
After the governing Justice and Development (AK Party) party came to power the accession process was hastened and in 2007 Turkey stated that the state would be ready to comply with the EU law by 2013.
However, Brussels has not accepted this as a deadline for membership. In 2006, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that the accession process will take at least until 2021.
Cavusoglu mentioned that “The membership process should go on its own course, and certain countries’ political blocking of Turkey’s negotiation process should be raised.”
He also referred to the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue which is one of the processes put forward recently by the EU and Turkey to make things easier for Turkish citizens travelling to Europe. He said, “Visa exemption of our citizens will help our relations improve with the EU in all the areas including our accession process.”
The foreign minister Cavusoglu also said Turkey has a critical geostrategic location, and with its strong economy and effective foreign policy could sincerely contribute to making the union a global political actor.
He said he wishes the European integration process will continue strengthening, and congratulated the Turkish people and all the European peoples on “Europe Day.”
Europe Day, also known as Schuman Day, is celebrated in all EU countries as marking the unity of Europe.
Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, made a declaration on May 9, 1950 calling for a joint agreement between the French and West German coal and steel industries which led to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, the first European Community.