As the European Union continues to grow further in distance from being a center of attraction due to the economic crisis, they are trying to keep relations with Turkey tight. Ever since embarking on full membership negotiations in 2005, the Turkish public's interest in the EU has continued to wane and the unending chapters have ended up exhausting Ankara.
It turns out the EU, which has been slow to open chapters, has assigned an army of diplomats in Turkey in order to further develop relations. An article in the EU Observer news portal, which publishes articles on the European Union, states that the highest number of diplomats working for the EU are currently in Ankara. An article entitled 'Turkey and China host biggest EU outposts' writes that Staff numbers at embassies highlight EU interest in Turkey, China and the Western Balkans. According to the article written by Andrew Rettman, there are 137 EU diplomats posted to Ankara.
Following Turkey for the highest number of staff delegations are China with 116 diplomats, with Russia in third with 102. The article also states that out of the 137 staff assigned to Ankara, 22 are assigned to the European External Action Service (EEAS) formed last year under Foreign Relations High Representative Catherine Ashton's leadership.
'AN INDICATOR OF OUR STRENGTH'
European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış says that the fact that the EU has such strong representation present in Ankara reaffirms Turkey's central role. Minister Bağış states, "If Turkey had not become a center of attraction in the region and throughout the world, then they would not have shown this level of interest. This situation is actually an acknowledgement of the fact that the obstacles posed in front of Turkey's EU membership have not been embraced. Turkey is not the one that is alone today in the EU; instead it is the narrow-vision politicians that are against Turkey. With its democracy, economy, geography and contribution to world peace, Turkey is at an extremely strategic point for the EU. An EU without Turkey will always be lacking and Europeans are aware of this fact."
'THEY RETURN AS FRIENDS OF TURKEY'
European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış expresses that the presence of this number of EU representatives in Turkey is beneficial in terms of increasing mutual relations and interaction. Bağış says, "Diplomats who have served in Turkey return to their countries as friends and experts of Turkey. We could say that they are also our representatives. Of course we have expectations from them as well: if we are is this close contact and communication, then the process needs to be expedited and the obstacles lifted already. We are working in compatibility with Brussels bureaucracy."