Former European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen Thursday concurred with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he said Europe was the one in need of Turkey. He echoed Erdoğan's statement earlier in the week when he said the European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU.
Speaking at the presidential palace on Oct. 23, Erdoğan said: "A Europe without Turkey is only going to face isolation, desperation and civil strife. Turkey does not need Europe. Europe is the one that is in need of Turkey." The president also identified Turkey as the EU's panacea to overcome its problems.
Verheugen, attending a symposium in northwest Turkey's Kocaeli Thursday, said that the EU was in need of Turkey more than it needed the EU. "We are not questioning whether Turkey is a part of Europe or not, it obviously is. The EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU," he said. He went on to say that Turkey doesn't need the EU's perspective as it already has a wide perspective. "The EU is unaware of the benefits that it can gain from rule of law in Turkey and Turkey's rapid development." He added that the EU should not argue with Turkey, rather it should argue about specific issues with Turkey together. Stressing that the EU was now going through a period of struggle as it looked to stay alive, Verheugen said, "Turkey renders the EU more powerful in terms of politics, economy, and security."
Referring to the rise of rightist politics in the EU, President Erdoğan on Monday said: "A Europe where xenophobia is on the rise, and neo-Nazi parties are so strong that they are made partners in coalitions is heading for its doom." He also urged EU leaders to adopt common sense when it comes to Turkey-EU relations.
Verheugen pointed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's speech where she suggested Turkey should not become a member of the EU and added that the EU did not keep its promises when they pledged to ramp up accession talks as part of the refugee deal, despite Turkey fully holding up its end of the agreement. "Although the EU didn't keep its word and Merkel defined the negotiations as empty promises, the assurance on speeding up accession talks was pledged under her chairmanship," Verheugen said, adding that the situation was absurd.