3 November 2004
Special conditions should not be set out just for Turkey, the Parliamentary Speaker said.
November 2 - All Turkey wants for the European Union is to be treated in the same manner as other countries that are candidates for membership of the bloc, the speaker of the Turkish parliament said Monday.
Addressing a seminar discussing the European Commission's report on Turkey's progress in meeting accession requirements, Parliamentary Speaker Bulent Arinc said that he was confident the EU heads of state summit in December would vote in favour of setting a date for membership talks with Turkey to begin some time in early 2005.
"The European Commission made a historical decision on October 6th not only for Turkey, but also for the EU itself," he told the seminar, sponsored by the Turkish Parliamentarians Union. "It shed green light for entry negotiations and it clearly stated that Turkey had sufficiently met Copenhagen criteria."
Turkey's becoming a member of the EU would bring many benefits to Europe, Arinc said, though he added that some countries had trouble recognising this.
"We are surprised how some member countries cannot understand this reality and the dimension of Turkey's contribution," he said. "The EU will have more say in the Eurasia region with the membership of Turkey. Turkey's strategic location will strengthen the EU. Turkey's young and dynamic population will be an important gain for Europe in long term. Accession of Turkey, which is highly populated with Muslims, will show the world that Muslims and Christians can live together in peace."
While noting that in general the EC report had praised the steps taken by Turkey to meet the accession criteria, Arinc said that there were some requirements set out that did not apply to other candidate countries.
"As it was confirmed in Helsinki Summit, Turkey wants to be treated equally with other EU candidate countries," Arinc said.