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Turkey's E.U. Future
December 9, 2002 -
The New York Times
Turkey is a subject of intense discussion in
Europe today. The reasons are obvious: the change in the political landscape
in Ankara and the expectations this has generated; the historic opportunity
for a solution to the Cyprus issue offered by Secretary General Kofi Annan of
the United Nations; and the decisions to be taken this week by the European
Council at Copenhagen on the next steps in the European Union enlargement
process. The debate is an important one. But we must be careful to avoid
misunderstandings and pointless controversies.
Turkey has already booked its place in Europe. In
December 1999, the European Council recognized Turkey's full-candidate status.
This was unanimously agreed on by the 15 European Union heads of state and
government. No one challenged that decision. No one can challenge it today on
the grounds of geography. To do so would endanger the enlargement process and
the principle of inclusiveness that has sustained it.
This principle of inclusiveness lies at the origin of
the European Union. There is a conviction among Europeans today, including
those about to join the union this week, that Turkey should be fully anchored
in Europe. This conviction must continue to determine our future.
If Turkey wishes to assume its place in Europe, then,
like all other candidate countries before it, Turkey must chart the course
that gets it there. Only Turkey can answer two crucial questions: Can it take
the road to Europe? And does it wish to do so?
To answer the first question, Turkey must meet the
criteria required for the initial stage of accession negotiations. The Turkish
government has acknowledged, by placing a new legislative package of necessary
reforms before Parliament, that it does not yet meet those criteria. Its
determination to do so is equally clear, as may be seen in the decision to
pursue such proposals following the highly encouraging measures adopted last
Will this be enough to make up the necessary ground and
satisfy the criteria defined for the other candidate countries in Copenhagen
back in 1993? Will the reforms be adopted and put into effect before the next
European Council meeting? We shall be discussing these questions on Thursday.
Whether Turkey wishes to take its place in Europe is a
question only it can answer. The Cyprus settlement plan proposed by Secretary
General Kofi Annan of the United Nations on Nov. 11 offers everybody an
opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of an island that has for
too long been divided. Both Turkish and Greek Cypriots should embrace the
secretary general's proposal. During my recent visit to Ankara, some argued it
was dangerous to try to resolve a 40-year problem in only four weeks. They are
mistaken. Mr. Annan's plan is the courageous and ambitious culmination of
years of international efforts. Both communities in Cyprus must agree to the
plan and see to its implementation. Who could possibly prefer that a
militarily divided, rather than a united, island join the European Union? The
inhabitants of Cyprus? Of Turkey? I don't believe so.
The future of Europe is intrinsically linked to that of
its defense. If it is to take its place in Europe, Turkey must also play a
role in the European defense project. Turkey will need to help shape permanent
military arrangements between NATO and the European Union. Ankara cannot any
longer stand in the way of cooperation between the union and NATO.
I believe Turkey's future as part of Europe is within
reach. By matching actions to words, Turkey, the European Union and our NATO
partners can together make this promise reality.
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