Turkey would substantially contribute to the European Union (EU) in the fields of foreign policy, defense and security, the Deputy Foreign Minister and Director for EU affairs said yesterday.
Stressing that the membership of Turkey in the EU would have significant implications, Faruk Kaymakçı told Anadolu Agency (AA) that "Turkey would provide many things that other countries could not when they joined the EU. Turkey is the country that would provide the biggest contribution to the EU becoming a global actor in the fields of energy, foreign policy, security and defense."
Even though the talks regarding Turkey's accession to the bloc have been long stalled, Ankara has been recently aiming to boost ties with the EU and reaching a new momentum in talks.
In 1963, Turkey first signed the Ankara Agreement that foresaw the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods as part of integration in the customs union with the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the EU, acknowledging the final goal of membership.
After a long interim period, Turkey signed the European Constitution in 2004, leading to negotiations for full membership to be launched in 2005, during the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) first term in power. However, the negotiations stalled once again in 2007 due to objections to open chapters by the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus. Commenting on Turkey's prolonged talks with the EU; Kaymakçı pointed out that there has been ups and downs in EU's stance toward Turkey's membership. "Particularly with the 13 [countries gaining] membership after 2004, the EU has been enlarging. The issues including Brexit, the rise of the far-right, migration, and security have been delaying the expansion process and have negatively affected the stance toward the process," he said and added that however, Turkey's membership would contribute the EU becoming a global actor.
In relation to the recent efforts Kaymakçı stated that "Turkey is already economically, politically and culturally part of the European continent." He added that he believes that Turkey would approach the membership process when it shows that it is at the center of Europe with the reform process.
Touching on the EU's presenting some conditions for visa liberalization, Kaymakçı stressed that considering Turkey's geography it is in a different position regarding terrorism and security. He added that when Turkey conducts an operation toward northern Syria, it not only protects its borders but also protects the borders of NATO and Europe. He highlighted that leaving behind the state of emergency; Turkey has been increasing efforts for reforms as was stressed in two Reform Action Group (RAG) meetings in August and December of 2018.
Recently there have been positive signals indicating that Turkey and the EU are ready to keep up dialogue and work together on the reforms that were promised by Turkey.
With an aim of turning a new page in the process, Turkey decided in the RAG meeting to implement new reforms.
According to the RAG meeting, Turkey will prioritize reforms linked to its EU accession process in the coming period and expects to see results from its efforts, including on the issue of visa liberalization. Ankara has promised to work on accelerating political reforms, focusing on the judiciary, freedoms and fundamental rights.