PUBLIC LECTURE – TURKISH EU CHIEF NEGOTIATOR AND EU AFFAIRS MINISTER EGEMEN BAĞIŞ

13 April 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may visit Malta soon

MEUSAC and the Institute for European Studies of the University of Malta yesterday organised a
public lecture addressed by the Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator of Turkey Egemen Bağış.
During the lecture entitled ‘Creating a Common Future: Need for visionary Europe’, Minister Bağış
expressed his hope that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, would visit Malta in the
near future thereby reinforcing the close relations between Malta and Turkey.

The Turkish EU Affairs Minister repeatedly described the EU as the grandest peace project in the
history of mankind. In this context he said that if the EU is a platform for peace, Turkey’s membership
would further enhance the bloc economically and in with respect to its external relations. He praised
Malta’s support for Turkey’s bid to join the EU membership and expressed his appreciation for the fact
that Malta is not ashamed to state its position. He referred to how in some EU countries, support for
Turkey’s accession is not so strong, however, Minister Bağış insisted that his country would continue
to press on with efforts for Turkey to join the EU even if this should prove to be a lengthy process.

Egemen Bağış described Turkey as a unique democratic country and stated that should Turkey join
the EU it would strengthen the Union in a number of ways such as:

  • By exerting more influence in the Middle East and other neighbouring regions
  •  By providing other alternatives to address the energy crisis
  • By boosting commercial ties with Turkey’s economy registering growth mainly due to its
    young population.

The relationship between Germany and Turkey, Cyprus, the Euro crisis, the performance of
businesses and SMEs in Turkey as well as respect for Fundamental Human Rights issue were among
the questions put forward by some of the participants to Minister Bağış. In his replies, Minister Bağış
clarified that in fact it is only some German politicians who are objecting Turkey’s accession to the EU
and not Germany. He referred to the migration trends between these two countries with 5 million
Turks in Germany and 35,000 Germans in Turkey. Referring to Cyprus, Minister Bağış expressed his
disappointment about what he described as the lack of political will by the Greek Cypriots particularly
their rejection of the peace plan that had been brokered by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. It
is not possible to reunify the island without compromise by all parties, he added.

Minister Bağış is confident that Europe will overcome the financial crisis. Referring to the EU
processes, he stated his view about the need to revise the principle of unanimity within the EU
decision-making process since it is proving impossible to obtain unanimous support from all the 27
Member States. Minister Bağış described the relationship between Turkish businesses and the EU
as being very good and said that SMEs are being given incentives to attain European standards and
that this has resulted in foreign trade tripling over the past 9 years.

About the respect for Human Rights in Turkey, Minister Bağış admitted that the situation in his country
is not perfect in this respect. However, he added that Turkey is much better today than it was
yesterday, and that tomorrow it will be in a far better position than today. He declared that Turkey is
introducing reforms not for the sake of the EU, but because its citizens deserve to have better living
standards. He insisted that today, despite having a largely Muslim population, Turkey is a more
secular and democratic state than many EU countries.

The lecture by Egemen Bağış was introduced by Malta’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Foreign Affairs Dr Tonio Borg who, among others, reiterated Malta’s support for Turkey’s application
to join the EU. The lecture was moderated by MEUSAC Head Dr Vanni Xuereb who also introduced
the two speakers. In his conclusion Dr Xuereb also thanked the Ambassador of Turkey to Malta, Mrs.
Refika Nihal Çevik, for the support received from the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Malta to
organise the Public Lecture.