Council of Europe says Turkey should take rightful place in EU
by Mehmet Solmaz
ISTANBULJan 08, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Mehmet Solmaz
Jan 08, 2015 12:00 am
The secretary-general of the Council of Europe questioned the wisdom behind not allowing Turkey into the EU: ‘Who can say no to add 70-80 million new customers to the internal market?’ He also thanked Turkey for its financial contribution to the organization
Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, welcomed Turkey's intention to strengthen cooperation with the Council of Europe, and to become a major contributor to the organization's budget, together with the other five large member states – France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the U.K.
Jagland said in a speech that Europe needed Turkey, and that Turkey needed Europe. "Turkey should take its rightful place in the European Union. Europe needs Turkey because Turkey is bordering one of the hot spots for Europe," he said.
Turkey wants to be the sixth-biggest contributor in the Council of Europe, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday. He made the remarks in a welcome address for Jagland, at the Seventh Annual Ambassadors' Conference in Ankara, the Turkish capital. "At a time when Europe needs dialogue, mutual understanding and respect for diversity, the Council of Europe should take a step forward," Çavuşoğlu said, "We are one of the founding members of this organization, now we would like to be one of the grand payers of the Council of Europe." He said Turkey paid 13 million euros annually to the Council of Europe. "We would like to increase this number to 33 million euros," he said, "The Council of Europe has five grand payers and we would like to be the sixth one." Turkey also made an active financial contribution to the U.N. budget between 2013 and 2015. With $63 million, Turkey is the 16th-highest paying country for the U.N. budget.
Jagland also questioned the wisdom behind not allowing Turkey into the EU. "Who can say no to add 70 to 80 million new customers to the internal market?" he said, adding that Europe was witnessing "very worrying signs" in terms of economic and social situations.Jagland also said that since Turkey borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, it is very important for Europe to solve problems in that region.He also praised Turkey for hosting around 1.6 million refugees. "I come from Scandinavia," he said, "If we had around 5,000 to 10,000 refugees, there would be an outcry." Jagland described the ongoing crisis in Syria as the biggest scandal in the world after World War II. "We are in the 21st century, a civil war like this has been going on for four years. 200,000 people have been killed and 1.5 million refugees are in Turkey, millions of others in Jordan and Lebanon. How can it be?" he asked.
Jagland said that the "international machinery," including the U.N. Security Council, should be questioned as to whether it was functioning or not.
"Increasing unemployment, racism and Islamophobic thinking are huge threats for democracies," he said. Speaking at a conference of Turkish ambassadors, Jagland said: "I welcome the Turkish authorities' decision to allow the construction of a new Christian church in Istanbul as a sign of respect for religious diversity."