European Enlargement, South East Europe: Turkey’s Perspective, Sofiya, 11 June 2004.(Text and Power Point)

EUROPEAN ENLARGEMENT, SOUTH EAST EUROPE:

Sofia, 11 June 2004

   I. South Eastern Europe the the EU

The South Eastern Europe has always played an important role in the European and the world history.

      The next enlargement of the European Union (EU) will be towards South East. The EU announced already the candidacy of three countries of this region. They are Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. All of them benefit from the pre-accession strategy of the EU. This strategy entails:

–              bringing together the various forms of aid offered by the EU within a single framework that is called “Accession Partnership’’;

–              familiarising the candidate countries with the EU’s procedures and policies by offering them the opportunitiy to participate in the EU program.

Several programs are available to support this strategy:

One of such programs is PHARE. It was initially set up in 1989 to support the process of reform and economic and political transition in Poland and Hungary. Later, it has become the main instrument of financial and technical cooperation with all of the candidate countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

Following the Essen European Council of December 1994, PHARE became the financial instrument of the pre-accession strategy leading ultimately to the acce ssion to the EU of the ten associated Central and Eastern European countries, namely; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus.

In the initial stages of the transition, the programme focused on providing know-how and technical assistance and, where necessary, humanitarian aid. As progress was made, the demand for technical assistance declined in relative terms and the need for investment aid, particularly in areas such as infrastructure and environmental protection, increased considerably.

Following the publication of the Agenda 2000 and the stepping-up of the enlargement process which ensued, PHARE was redirected towards preparing the candidate countries for accession. Its activities now concentrate on two priorities:

–              helping the administrations of the candidate countries to acquire the capacity to implement the EU acquis;

–              helping the candidate countries to bring their industries and basic infrastructure up to EU standards by mobilising the required investment.

From 2000 onwards, PHARE management methods were revamped with a view to:

–              concentrating on projects regarding the implementation of the EU acquis;

–              improving budgetary implementation;

–              increasing the size of projects;

–              continuing decentralisation of management to the recipient countries.

      ISPA (Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession) is another important instrument to assist the accession countries. It was launched as a result of the Commission communication on Agenda 2000, which called for measures to reinforce the pre-accession strategy for all candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This implies the establishment, by way of back-up for the PHARE programme and aid for agricultural development, of structural assistance amounting to 1 billion Euros per year for the period 2000-06. ISPA funds could be utilised exclusively for the environment and transport.

      SAPARD is a program aiming at providing financial assistance for the countries of the region in the form of structural and agricultural instruments. Support for agriculture and rural development is given high priority in this sector, and in particular on:

–              investment in agricultural holdings;

–              improving the processing and marketing of agricultural and fishery products;

–              improving structures for quality, veterinary and plant-health controls in the interests of food quality and consumer protection;

–              agricultural production methods designed to protect the environment and maintain the countryside.

Bulgaria and Romania benefited fairly well from these instruments and they are expected to join the EU in 2007.

Bulgaria

      Bulgaria has been the best performing country among the three candidates. It began its transition to a market economy rather later than the other transition countries and under unfavourable conditions following a deep economic crisis due to external shocks. However, it performed well both for the transition from the communist to democratic regime and for the accomplishment of political and economic eligibility criteria for the EU membership.

Bulgaria used appropriately the funds made available to it under the PHARE Program for the purpose of institution-building and cross-border cooperation with the neighbouring countries.

Bulgaria has now a functioning market economy and I am confident that it will be able to cope with competitive pressures and market forces in the Union.

Bulgaria’s accession negotiations to the EU are almost completed. I understand that only two chapters remain outstanding, one on Competition and the other on Miscellaneous. Therefore Bulgaria will be able to use the time that is left until 2007 to complete remaining formalities of the membership.

Romania

Romania is also doing relatively well, but the EU expects to see more substantive progress in the field of transparency and the smooth functioning of the market economy. There is no reason to believe that this country will not be able to accomplish all criteria until the 2007 deadline.

250 million Euros were allocated under the 2000  PHARE Program for Romania on a national level. An additional allocation of 13 million Euros was also earmarked for cross-border cooperation with Bulgaria (8 million Euros) and with Hungary (5 million Euros).

The 2001 PHARE programme allocated 273.7 million Euros. An additional 13 million Euros were earmarked for cross-border cooperation with Bulgaria and Hungary.

PHARE 2002 allocated 229 million Euros, plus a further 36.5 million Euros under the mechanism to reinforce institutional capacity. Another envelope of 13 million Euros was earmarked for cross-border cooperation with Bulgaria (8 million Euros) and Hungary (5 million Euros).

The Romanian authorities are assuming responsibility for aid contracts and payments. However the EU Financial Regulation requires the Commission to oversee contract award procedures and to approve any contract financed by PHARE and signed with the partner country before it comes into effect.

The total financial aid made available between 2000 and 2002 was 1,89 billion Euros, of which 242 million Euros was for PHARE, 250 million for SAPARD and between 208 and 270 million Euros for ISPA.

SAPARD 2002 allocated around 157.9 Euros million to Romania. The envelope agreed under ISPA for the same year was between 217.8 and 283.2 million Euros.

      II. Turkey

Turkey is an inseparable part of the South Eastern Europe on geographical, ethnical and historical terms. For this reason, the region occupies a distinct place in Turkey’s foreign policy. Therefore I would like to start sharing my observations on Turkey by saying a few words on Turkey’s relations with the Balkans as a whole and on Turkey’s bilalteral relations with the Balkan countries.

1. Turkey and the Balkans

Turkey based its relations with the Balkan countries on the principle of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as non-interference in domestic affairs.

Important ties exist between the peoples of Turkey and other Balkan countries. The Balkans region is Turkey’s gateway to Continental Europe. There are peoples of ethnic Turkish origin in various Balkan countries. On the other hand, there are Turkish citizens whose grandparents, parents or themselves have immigrated to Turkey from all over the Balkan peninsula. Conflicts in this region often create serious consequences for Turkey particularly in terms of huge numbers of refugees pouring in after each major conflict.

Therefore, Turkey’s interest in the fate of the Balkans region is strong and this is why Turkey was at the forefront of international efforts to stop bloodshed and ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian and Kosovo conflicts. Turkish troops, pol ice officers and observers continue to serve in various parts of the former Yugoslavia to ensure the safety and well- being of civilians. Turkey has provided substantial amounts of assistance to war-torn Balkan nations to help them in their reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

      In addition to its bilateral efforts, Turkey has traditionally aspired for conciliation, stability and peace in the Balkans at a regional level. Turkey’s role in launching major initiatives such as the Southeastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and the Multinational Peacekeeping Force for Southeastern Europe is a proof of the importance that it attaches to forging closer ties among Balkan countries and to the creation of a durable atmosphere of understanding and peaceful cohabitation. In this regard, it is dedicated to play its full part within the regional economic initiatives as well, and has been active within the Stability Pact and the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI).

Since economic and political aspects of international relations and cooperation are inseparable, Turkey believes that better coordination must be established and maintained between the Stability Pact and the SEECP, which is the only genuine initiative emanating from within the region. SEECP is a symbol of the common objective of the countries of the region to improve cooperation among themselves and to bring lasting stability to South Eastern Europe.

Turkey believes that it is now the right time that the word “Balkans” is freed from its negative connotation and made to stand for such positive meanings as “mutual respect” and “peaceful cohabitation.”

The level of individual economic well-being and prosperity of the Balkan nations has a direct impact on the security and stability of the region. In turn, stability and security in Europe as a whole cannot be achieved and sustained if the South Eastern part of the continent is dragged into economic or social turmoil.

Thus, Turkey believes that, it is indeed high time for the Euro-Atlantic and European institutions to embrace the region with a vision of projecting lasting peace, stability and prosperity, and at the same time, cultivate the diverse historical heritages as constitutive elements of European culture and civilization.

 South East European Countries Cooperation Process (SEECP)

South East European Countries Cooperation Process (SEECP) brings together Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as full members and Croatia as an observer. It is a symbol of the common objective of the countries of the region to improve cooperation among themselves and to bring lasting stability to the Balkans. Turkey attaches particular importance to the SEECP as the only cooperative scheme that emanates from within the region itself, which provides a useful and valuable forum for high-level discussion and deliberation on issues of common concern.

Turkey believes that better coordination must be established and maintained between the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and the SEECP.

Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe

Turkey has supported the Stability Pact since its inception, believing that the Pact marks a commitment by the international community to create a comprehensive solution to the fragile situation in the region. After the initial euphoria, it is now widely agreed that the Pact needs a new impetus and streamlining. EU’s intention to shoulder more responsibility in this context is welcomed by Turkey; in so far it takes into account the views of the countries of the region.

Turkey believes that better coordination must be established and maintained between the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and the SEECP.

2. Turkey’s Bilateral Relations with the Balkan Countries

Turkey’s Relations with Bulgaria

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Bulgaria have developed in the last decade following the new regime’s rejection of the policies of the past leadership towards the ethnic Turkish minority in Bulgaria, and have undergone a qualitative transformation. The way this problem is handled by the present Bulgarian authorities sets an excellent example to demonstrate how a contentious issue could be transformed into an asset and vehicle to strengthen the relations with another country. The credit for this bold initiative goes entirely to the present Bulgarian regime and there are several lessons to be drawn from this experience for other countries in the region and in the world at large.

 After this new opening in Bulgaria, contacts have been intensified at every level between Turkey and Bulgaria and solutions have been found to some long-standing bilateral problems. Moreover, the legal framework for improving bilateral commercial and economic relations has been finalized, resulting in a rapid increase of exchanges in these fields in a very short period of time.

Turkey is the only country that has explicitly demonstrated its support for Bulgaria and Romania by passing a law requiring membership of these two countries to NATO. As a follow-up of this policy, Turkey welcomed the invitation extended to Bulgaria and Romania in Prague Summit, to become members of NATO. The Accession Protocol of Bulgaria to NATO has been ratified by the Turkish Parliament on 19 October 2003.

Turkey’s Relations with Albania

The common historical, human and cultural heritage brings the two countries closer and the relations transcend the boundary of politics. Naturally, Turkish-Albanian relations are at an excellent level. Despite very intensive relationship, there is not one single political problem in the agenda.

One of the most important aspects of the bilateral relations is in the military field. Relations between Turkey and Albania in that domain have indeed reached an outstanding level. Turkey’s logistical and training support helps Albanian Army to catch up with Euro-Atlantic standards. On the other hand, economic relations between Turkey and Albania need further strengthening.

Turkey views Albania as an important country for peace and stability in the Balkans and appreciates its valuable contributions to this end. At the same time, Turkey is pleased to see that Albania is making headway in the process of integrating with European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. Turkey will continue to extend its support for Albania’s efforts towards this aim.

Turkey’s Relations with Bosnia-and-Herzegovina

Due to deep historical bonds, Bosnia-and-Herzegovina has always been one of those countries that enjoys a particular place in Turkish foreign policy. Turkey believes that the re-establishment of the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural status of Bosnia-and-Herzegovina through preservation of its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders is important. Turkey, as a member of the Peace Implementation Council and its Steering Board has supported the full implementation of Dayton Peace Accords from the outset. Turkey believes that the real responsibility, ability and authority to implement Dayton Peace Accords, and to transform Bosnia-and-Herzegovina into a country of peace and prosperity, belong to the people of Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.

Turkey’s Relations with Croatia

Bilateral political relations between Turkey and Croatia have developed considerably in recent years. High-level visits between the two countries have always proven to be highly beneficial. Turkey appreciates Croatia’s efforts and achievements in the democratization process, return of the refugees, privatization, restructuring of the economy and integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Turkey also values Croatia’s current policies towards the maintenance of lasting peace and security environment in the region, which will contribute to the democratization and stability in the Balkans.

Turkey’s Relations with the Republic of Macedonia

Due to historical and cultural bonds between the two countries, Turkey and Macedonia have developed close and friendly relations in recent years. Turkey attaches great importance to the security, stability, prosperity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia and has welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement on August 13, 2001 and the adoption of the constitutional amendments set forth by the Agreement. Turkey attaches importance to the equitable representation of the Turkish national minority in Macedonia in accordance with the spirit of the Framework Agreement.

Turkey has contributed to the NATO operations to oversee the collection of the weapons as envisaged in the Framework Agreement and to create security environment in the country, and has been providing personnel to the OSCE Mission in Macedonia. Turkey also participated in the NATO supported EU operation “Concordia” after the EU takeover of the NATO mission in Macedonia.

Turkey will continue to support Macedonia’s efforts towards reconciliation and ensuring that there is no return to violence.

Turkey also appreciates and continues to support Macedonia’s efforts and achievements in integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Turkey’s Relations with Romania

The common history shared by Turkey and Romania constitutes the solid foundation upon which excellent relations have been established. Today, Turkish-Romanian relations are indeed at an excellent level. However, there is still much room to develop bilateral relations especially in the economic domain.

Turkey views Romania as an important country for peace and stability in the Balkans, and values its contributions to this end. At the same time, Turkey appreciates Romania’s rapid progress in the direction of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

As the only country that has explicitly demonstrated its support for Romania and Bulgaria by passing a law requiring membership of these two countries to NATO, Turkey welcomes the invitation extended to Romania and Bulgaria in Prague Summit, for NATO membership. Accession Protocol of Romania to NATO has been ratified by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 5 November 2003.

Turkey’s Relations with Serbia-and-Montenegro

Turkey highly values its relations with Serbia-and-Montenegro, which has always been regarded as a neighboring country. Turkey wishes that the formation of the new State Union under the name Serbia-and-Montenegro, following the Federal Parliament’s adoption of the Constitutional Charter, will contribute to the welfare, peace and stability in the Balkans. Turkey aims to continue its close friendship and cooperation relations with Serbia-and-Montenegro.

Kosovo

Turkey supports the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Turkey has been contributing to security and stability of Kosovo by providing troops, civilian police and specialists to KFOR, UNMIK and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. Turkey, with its centuries-long historical and cultural ties with the region, closely follows the developments relating to Kosovo. In this respect, Turkey attaches great importance to the preservation of the acquired rights of the Turkish national minority as well as their fair and equitable representation in the political and administrative structures of Kosovo.

Serbia-and-Montenegro and the Process of Integration into the EU

      The relations between Serbia-and-Montenegro and the EU acquired a new dimension after October 2000 and its admission to the EU as a full-fledged member by the year 2010 has been set as a long-term objective. In the comprehensive process of return of Serbia-and-Montenegro to international political and economic integrations, the EU represents its key partner and provides the most significant support to political and economic reforms in the country.

Serbia-and-Montenegro attaches great importance to the financial support of the EU for the promotion of these relations, in particular under the CARDS programme for the countries of the West Balkans.

In the period 2000-2001, the then FRY received 260 million Euros annually from the CARDS programme extended as grant in aid. For the period 2002-2004, the amount of 980 million Euros is provided for Serbia-and-Montenegro  (of which 645 million Euros are intended for Serbia).

Serbian-and-Montenegro is a beneficiary of EU “special trade measures” (customs tariffs have been abolished with minor exceptions for imports into the EU from Serbian-and-Montenegro).

Cooperation in the fields of the administration of justice and internal affairs constitutes an important segment of overall relations.

A Task Force has been established between the EU and Serbia-and-Montenegro. The following subjects are permanent agenda items of this Task Force: democratisation, respect for human and minority rights, rule of law, economic reforms and fulfilment of international obligations.

 Banking, trade, statistics and fiscal policy were considered at the first meeting, while transport, energy, telecommunications, customs tariffs, administration of justice and internal affairs were dealt with at the second meeting of this Task Force. The third meeting held on 21 February 2002 reviewed the situation in industry, competition, intellectual property, enterprises, social policy and employment.

Turkey’s Relations with Slovenia

Turkey attaches importance to development of relations with Slovenia. Turkey and Slovenia share the same goals in their foreign policies, such as peace, stability, good neighborly relations and economic development based on bilateral and multilateral cooperation. They both believe in European vocation.

3. Turkey’s relations with the EU.

      Turkey’s relations with the EU vary considerably from the relations between the EU and other member or candidate countries. This difference is due to various reasons. The way Turkey is historically percieved in the EU countries is one of them. Other reasons include the size of Turkey (both demographically and geographically) and cultural (religious) differences between Turkey and the remainder of the EU. This is why Turkey’s candidacy is not treated on equal footing with the other candidate countries.

      Major milestones in Turkey’s Relations with the EU

Turkey’s relations with the EU date back to more than 45 years. Major milestones in Turkey’s relations with EU are as follows:

–              Turkey first applied to the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1959, shortly after the establishment of the Community.

–              An Association Agreement with the EEC is signed in 1963. This Agreement envisaged Turkey’s full membership after certain stages.

–              A Customs Union is established between Turkey and the EU in 1995.

–              During the EU Council held in Helsinki in December 1999, Turkey is designated    as a “candidate State destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to other candidate States”.

–              The Copenhagen EU Council decided in December 2002 that accession negotiations with Turkey will start “without delay” should the Council be led to the conclusion that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria of the EU.

In this process, the next logical and natural step is the accession to the EU. However the EU is still hesitant on whether a date should be given to Turkey for the start of accession negotiations. Such a hesitation is in contradiction with what EU has done with the other candidate countries. For instance, it was mentioned in the progress report regarding certain candidate countries that, 2 years after the accession negotiations started with these countries, they still did not fully abide by the Copenhagen criteria, while in the case of Turkey, the abidance by these criteria is put as a pre-condition for the start of the accession negotiations. I leave it to your sound judgement whether Turkey could be considered as having been treated on equal footing.

Despite this unfair treatment by the EU, Turkey undertook a challenging reform process to harmonize the Turkish legislation and the State structure with the standards of the EU.

Major achievements

The National Program, adopted in March 2001, contained general principles and strategy governing the reforms Turkey would make for accession. Turkey has worked seriously and with determination, taking every necessary step to meet the Copenhagen criteria and achieve this goal. Significant legislative packages have been adopted and numerous steps taken. More than 40 articles of the Constitution were amended to eliminate several discrepancies in the field of democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms.

The legislative harmonization packages adopted in June and July 2003 –the sixth, seventh and eighth reform packages– have further reinforced previous reforms in the field of fundamental rights and freedoms including the abolishment of the death penalty.

–              They have ensured a widening of the scope of the freedom of expression by repealing Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Act.

–              State security courts that included a military representative were abolished.

–              Private broadcasts in languages and dialects other than Turkish are now permitted.

–              The construction of places of worship such as churches has been facilitated.

–              The application period for the registration of real estate by community foundations has been extended.

–              The duties and competences of the Secretariat of the National Security Council have been aligned with the consultative nature of the Council and with the needs of a democratic executive.

–              Parliamentary scrutiny has been extended to cover the use of public assets and public expenditure in the areas outside the budget, including military expenditure.

Implementation of the Legislative Measures

After the adoption of these reforms, complementary legislative and administrative measures soon followed to ensure their effective implementation.  Implementation is important and Turkey is fully aware of it.

This is why the implementation of the reforms is a permanent item on the agenda of the Council of Ministers. Monthly progress reports on the implementation of the National Programme are presented to the Council of Ministers by the Secretariat-General for EU Affairs; a special Monitoring Group has been established at the political level in order to oversee progress made in the actual implementation of the political reforms.  This Group, which is chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, also include the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior.  These ministers meet on a regular basis with the aim of defining and addressing issues of implementation.  Furthermore, senior officials from the above-mentioned three ministries also take part in these meetings together with the Secretary-General for EU Affairs, the Head of the Human Rights Department of the Prime Ministry and the Chairman of the Human Rights Advisory Council

We have already started to observe the merits of these reforms. For instance, a play on women’s rights has been staged in Kurdish language at a theatre in Diyarbakır. The Diyarbakır municipality has put up announcements, both in Turkish and in Kurdish, on public billboards.  The Turkish Minister of the Interior has made a speech in Kurdish at a fair in Diyarbakır. Kurdish language courses are now organised in various cities and inaugural speeches of these courses were made in Kurdish by the Members of Parliament who speak Kurdish.  Such actions would have been punishable by imprisonment under previous legislation.

In view of these significant steps, much of the Copenhagen criteria have now been met and Turkey remains committed to ensuring the full and effective implementation of the legal reforms.

      What will the EU gain from Turkey’s membership?

How will the EU benefit from Turkish membership?  From the EU perspective, Turkey’s membership will help strengthen the EU’s role as a global actor.  If the EU wants to be one of the major players in the global scene, it will achieve this goal more easily with Turkey’s contribution.

As a key regional actor and ally located in close proximity to many existing and potential hotspots that are high on the European and international agenda, Turkey can help enhance stability and promote welfare in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. In fact, out of 15 hot spots identified by NATO as potential threat to the alliance, 12 are located in areas adjacent to Turkey or in areas where Turkey has cultural or historical ties. These areas are Middle East (including Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Iran), Caucasus, the Balkans and the Central Asia. I do not want to suggest that EU cannot carry out its goals in these areas without Turkey’s contribution. However, I may say without undue modesty that these goals could be achieved more easily, with less effort and resources and with much less acrimony, if it is done in cooperation with Turkey.

The importance attributed by the US to the role to be played by Turkey in the Iraqi crisis is a living evidence of this. It was also an important development when the Turkish parliament denied authorisation to American troops to cross Turkish territory into Iraq in order to open a second front in the northern Iraq. This example demonstrates the importance of both the cooperation and the absence of cooperation with Turkey.

Turkey contributes to the ongoing rapprochement between Europe and Asia and hence helps extend modern values in regions neighbouring Turkey.

Furthermore, Turkey’s membership in the European Union will surely be a symbol of harmonious co-existence of cultures, and enriching the spiritual fabric of the European Union.

Moreover, once Turkey becomes a member of EU, it will be able to contribute much more to the Common Foreign and Security Policy.  With its experience and capabilities in the military field, Turkey will definitely increase the weight of the EU in the global arena.

With Turkey as a full member, the Union will no doubt have a stronger voice.  The prevention and settlement of conflicts that involve the western community of nations and other countries will be easier.  The world will be safer. Above all, it will be a serious blow and an outright response to radical terrorism shaking the world today.

Turkey is located at the crossroad linking Asia to Europe and serves as a gate to the warm seas for the Black Sea basin countries, namely Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Georgia. On the other hand Turkey is located on the natural route between Europe and basins rich in oil and natural gas such as Iraq, Iran, Caspian Sea and Central Asia

In the economic field, Turkey could become an asset because of its geographical location and its young population. Statistics indicate that, because of the aging population, there will be an increasing need for young manpower in the EU countries during the next decades. The EU Commission reports point out that the size of the labour force in the EU-15 countries will decrease by one million each year between 2010 and 2030, amounting to a total decrease of 20 millions in 20 years. The same reports point also out that the problem of aging population is even more acute in the 10 new member countries of central and Eastern Europe. Turkey’s population is much younger as compared to the EU average. The age group between 0 and 25 constitute 57 % of the entire population of Turkey. The age group between 0 and 14 constitute 36 % of Turkey’s population, as compared to 18 % in most of the EU countries.

There are at present 3.5 million Turks working in the EU countries. 2.5 million Turks have worked in the EU countries and now came back to Turkey. They are adapted to a great extent to the living and working conditions in these countries.

Turkey has a customs’ union with the EU since 1996. Industrial commodities circulate between Turkey and the EU countries free of customs duties. This demonstrates that Turkey’s free market economy will be able to compete with the economies of the EU countries. Therefore Turkey’s economy will not have major difficulty in adapting itself to the economies of the EU countries.

Conclusion

Turkey is progressing steadily in its aspirations to join the EU.  It has accomplished more than what the other candidate countries had accomplished at the time they started accession negotiations. However, Turkey believes that the subjet of its accession to the EU is not like a court case in a tribunal where the verdict is made according to tightly defined legal provisions. Turkey’s accession to the EU is a political question and the decision on its accession will be made in light of political considerations. Turkey is aware of this reality and is acting accordingly.

As to the membership of the other Balkan countries, Turkey believes that the European integration will be more complete when these countries will be fully integrated in the EU.  The goals of the EU could not be better attained by leaving outside certain countries of the region, no matter how reasonable may seem the justification for it. The more these countries feel excommunicated, the less they will be able to contribute to the consolidation of peace and stability in the region. This is valid for every single country in the Balkans.

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