30 November 2004
Published: November 30 2004 02:00 | Last
From Mrs Ana Palacio.
Despite his stated aim, Val+®ry Giscard d'Estaing ("A better European bridge to Turkey", November 25) fails to bring much reason to the debate over Turkey joining the European Union.
It is time we saw Turkey for what it is: a huge opportunity. From its market potential to its role as an energy transit country; from an EU presence in regions of vital interest to our future (the southern Caucasus, the Middle East) to the proof that mankind is not inevitably doomed to suffer a "clash of civilisations", Turkish membership will bring economic and strategic benefits to the EU.
Despite the error of double-majority (could Mr Giscard have had in mind the problems this would cause for Turkey when he wrote it into the new constitution?), a democratic Turkey firmly anchored to Europe is in our interest as part of the western world. Moreover, Europe's culture and history are steeped in Turkish influence. Where would western civilisation be without Troy, Antioch or Byzantium?
The European project is a legal construct grounded on principles and values that have been fashioned in our common historical, geographical and cultural canvas. In other words the European project is grounded in four clearly defined principles: religion as a private matter; democratic institutions; a market economy; respect for human rights. These are the criteria for entry - not what the National Geographic Atlas of the World says. And Turkey is well on its way to complying with all four.
Europe is not what it used to be. An optimistic Europe, free of nostalgia and certain in its values will be ready to welcome Turkey to the family when its continuing transformation is finished. That is how we can build a better Europe.
Ana Palacio, Member of the Praesidium of the European Convention Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs of the Spanish Parliament
Source: Financial Times