FORMATION AND FUTURE SHAPE OF EUROPE
Galway (Ireland), 15 July 2003
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me first say how pleased I am to be here in this beautiful city of Ireland, Galway, and express my gratitude to the organizers of this forum for having invited me to participate in it. It is, indeed, a great privilege and honour for me to address such a distinguished audience.
I would like to share with you some thoughts about the formation of European Union project and its shape in the future.
Europe has been defined from very different perspectives. For some it is a geographical space, for others it is a cultural area, for me; Europe is an ideal that depends upon universal values. A model integrating diversity of different cultures to a common and contemporary European identity.
Today, we are discussing a Constitution for Europe. It was hard to imagine such a development fifty years ago. European Integration is moving further, only through wider acceptance of universal values. Culture of compromise is one of them. Today, negotiations on Constitutional Treaty are very much characterized by compromise.
Democracy and rule of law are the others. All nations around the world, in one way or another, deem it necessary to refer to these values when they are defining themselves. Although the roots of this universally accepted values lie in the history of Europe, today they are common to all nations.
This is the major success and contribution of European Union. That’s why; I believe European Union should be defined with reference to those values. That’s why; I believe European Union will be able to promote understanding and harmony throughout the world.
We should acknowledge that the very idea of European Union was built both on realistic and idealistic principles. Both the idealistic and realistic background of European Union is important. The success of this project could only be sustained through preserving this unique combination.
It is a realistic project because the founding fathers of European Union learned from history. They did not want any more divisions and devastating wars. They certainly shared the view expressed many years ago by a man from this land, Mr. George Bernard Shaw, and I quote:
“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”
But they also went one step further. Not only did they constitute a peace project that was founded on universal values, but also brought with it a positive definition to the concept of civilization. Simply they embraced and valued their diversities and promoted and upheld the universal values that they shared.
We should follow their path. We should never forget that we have a responsibility to keep up the pioneering sprit. That seems to be the only viable option for further integrating Europe and improve its contribution to world peace.
The idea of clash of civilizations came up, at the end of the cold war, as a notorious prophecy for the future of the world. Unfortunately, this reductionism still found by many as the most expedient alternative to analyse the current international politics. There is no moral or political ground that could vindicate this mindset. Europe should have to invalidate this fallacy. Because not only it denies the universal values that I mentioned above, but also it denies the very basis of the European Union.
As it was put by Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, “There are different cultures, but the path of civilization is single.” For this idea to gain acceptance prejudices need to be overcome and the universal values such as democracy, rule of law, human rights, gender equality need to be internalized by all the countries. I am sure all of you will agree with me that globalisation is not merely an economic concept. And I believe European Union will contribute in a unique manner to intelligent globalisation.
At this point, I would also like to briefly turn back to the definition of Europe. What kind of Europe would we like to see in the future? I don’t want to see a Europe characterized by fear, discrimination and hatred. I don’t want to see a Europe that tacitly justifies Prof. Huntington for the sake of so-called realities on the ground. I prefer a Europe composed of men and women who accept the existence of differences, who feel the power in their minds to change the old stereotypes. This is the Europe that I dream to live in. And hopefully, Europe is going in that direction.
Post cold war period brought several uncertainties. However, uncertainties, which pose the greatest threat to the prosperity and stability of nations, also brought vast opportunities. The political climate that we are living through necessitates all countries not just in word but also in deed to commit themselves to peace and solidarity among nations.
European Union, together with its integration process, is eager to play greater role in this respect. A role that should be supported by all of us. There are several asymmetric threats, particularly international terrorism for our societies. European Union should act as one against those common threats. Security is indivisible and collective. Therefore, our security strategy should be developed in a coherent and inclusive manner.
European Security and Defence Policy is an important step taken in this regard. Recently, European Union adopted both a Security Strategy and a document on New Neighbourhood Policy. Structured Cooperation also proposed within the draft Constitutional Treaty as an innovative idea to provide urgent and unimpeded response to an emerging crisis. However, we should also keep in mind that those newly developed mechanisms should not constitute deviation on the rule of consensus in issues of security and defence. They should also not to duplicate with NATO. We should use our scarce resources effectively in that field.
As a politician from a candidate country, which has the capability to be a “net contributor” for European Security and Defence Policy, I must also underline that mechanisms created on security and defence should not exclude Non-EU, European allies. We should not also underestimate the importance of Trans-Atlantic Partnership. After all, Europe and United States are part of the same value system. Differences among opinions on several issues are natural. But this should not harm the Partnership itself.
I also wish to say few words about the roots of the asymmetric threats that I touched upon. As a member of parliament in a Muslim majority country, I believe that the voice of the Muslim world must be listened carefully with an open heart. Change must be supported with soft power and by setting good examples. The greatest strength of open societies is the attraction that they create. The ultimate success in the fight against terrorism too will depend on such an attitude.
Effective decision-making is a must for the efficiency of an enlarged Union. European Integration is an ongoing process moving hand in hand with enlargement. Deepening of the Union is not an alternative of an enlarged Union.
Since its foundation, European Union has evolved in a dynamic, pragmatic and flexible manner. The outcome of the last five decades has been a remarkable success. The community method proved its usefulness. Today, the European integration is a universal reference model. A model living in a prosperous setting based on tolerance, understanding and respect.
At this point, I would also like to emphasize the need for reform of the Union. As Mr. Dick Roche, Minister of European Affairs of Ireland, recently stated, EU is in danger of being choked by red-tape. Reform issue is pending in the agenda for a long time. I believe that Constitutional Treaty will have a positive role in that sense.
We need to simplify the complex structure of the EU. But while doing this, we should refrain from adding new institutions. We have to consider several principles while dealing with the reform issue. One of them is equality among members. But we have a challenge here also. How is it possible to work effectively in an enlarged EU? My answer to this question is through simplifying the procedures. Legal instruments, working of institutions and decision-making process should be simplified. That kind of rehabilitation would also bridge the gap between the EU institutions and people on the streets.
Instead of small is beautiful, future Union should follow the motto of simple is beautiful. European Union should not be the Castle of Kafka. It should be a working mechanism that creates imaginative solutions to the current problems. Social policies, employment, access to the labour market, integration of migrants into the societies, education, internal market and several other issues should be handled in a problem solving and result oriented manner. European Union has enough institutional experience to overcome those challenges. Indeed, an effectively working Union can more easily increase both its political and economic weight in international arena.
Since the commencement of the Convention, Turkey has actively participated in its workings. And I had the pleasure and honour of participating in this democratic process. At the end of the Convention, the Constitutional Treaty for the Future of Europe has been successfully drafted.
I do understand that the outstanding issues on Constitutional Treaty are the most sensitive ones. Definition and scope of the qualified majority voting, size and composition of the Commission are the two critical institutional issues. However, I am convinced that the necessary political will does exist to finalize the work and to reach a final agreement at the June European Council.
If you allow me, I would also like to briefly touch upon the debate which was re-opened by some members concerning inclusion of a reference to a specific religion in the Preamble of the Constitutional Treaty. Such a reference would certainly cast a shadow on the secular standing of the Union. But, to my view, it could have more important adverse effects. It might create discrimination on the basis of religion.
We should keep in mind that the future of the world lies not in a clash of civilizations but in the harmony of different cultures in contemporary civilization. As a project for the future of Europe, European integration is characterized by peace, by tolerance and co-existence. We should all believe in the attainability of this objective and feel a moral imperative to contribute to that end.
I tried to express my ideas on overall picture of European Union. About its past and its future. I am aware that you mostly heard what ought to be the future of Europe. Actually, I did it on purpose. Because I believe that idealistic dimension of the European Union project should never be ignored. There are certainly lots of other topics, which deserve to be mentioned. I left them to the able experts who will analyse them in depth during these two days.
I tended to see the European Union as an ongoing process depending upon the synergy of European nations. In my country, we believe the European identity or the consciousness of being a European does not emanate from geographical boundaries or political history but common universal values.
The European Union, that we believe is a project for peace, is also a hope for reconciliation. The process started at the very heart of Europe, but certainly it will not stop there. Constitution for Europe reflects the upper level of integration. Deepening of this integration should continue. Enlargement of the Union should continue as well. Those two processes complement each other. If we want a European Union as a strong global actor, we need an enlarged Union.
The Famous Greek Philosopher Plato defines courage as an important wisdom. We need courage to overcome our fears. Our fears and stereotypes ultimately cause hatred and intolerance. Each and everyone of us must be vigilant and prevent fuelling such feelings.
Also, we need not to create “others” anymore to develop our own identities. The motto of the Irish Presidency: “Europeans working together” actually summarizes very well what I am trying to explain in this speech.
I would like to end my words by quoting, a Philosopher and a mystic of Islam, this time from my own land. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi says:
“The time for staying at home is over, it is time to enter the garden
The dawn of happiness has risen, the moment of union and vision is now”
I truly believe that people of Europe will find this vision for their common future.
Thank you for your attention.