Bagis: "With Turkish accession, the EU could eliminate half its problems"
The European Union could eliminate half its problems once it accepts Turkey as a member, Turkey's Chief EU Negotiator Egemen Bagis said Tuesday. Speaking at a dinner honoring members of the Friends of Turkey group in the European Parliament, Bagis said Turkey's EU membership would help the Union shake part of the burden from its shoulders. "It won't be easy," Bagis said. "But the important thing is to win hearts and minds. Europe needs new bridges and new ideas, not new walls." Stressing the EU's need for new markets, workers, and energy supplies, Bagis said half the problems the EU faces on these issues will be resolved once Turkey became a full member, contrary to the claims of some. Bagis, describing Turkey as "the West's foothold in the Far East and the East's foothold in the Far West," said Turkey expects fair negotiating conditions, cooperation in the fight against terrorism, looser visa regulations, and a settlement to the Cyprus problem from the EU. Alojz Peterle, who heads the EP's Friends of Turkey group, said he agreed on the visa issue, adding that it should be addressed as a technical, rather than political, matter. On Turkey's expectation of fair negotiations, Peterle said the outline of the EU accession process is quite clear and that both sides should follow it.