Chief negotiator Bagis: Adopting a civilian constitution will speed up Turkey's EU bid
Chief Negotiator for European Union talks Egemen Bagis said yesterday that a set of constitutional reforms slated for a referendum in September will speed up Turkey's membership drive. "If we finally get a civilian constitution, we will be able to witness the EU process picking up significant momentum, just like what happened in Portugal and Spain," Bagis told a group of local businesspeople in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. "The EU process will speed up after Sept. 12," he predicted. The government hopes that the changes will be passed in the referendum, although public surveys forecast a tight result. The EU, which Turkey has for decades aspired to join, is most likely to be pleased with the approval of the reform plan but, with public enthusiasm fading fast for eventual membership, EU support may not be a sufficient stimulus for Turks to vote in favor of the changes. In what appears to be an acknowledgement of widespread misgivings about Turkish membership in Europe, Bagis said what matters is the process of membership itself, not whether or not it will lead to membership one day. "Once Turkey becomes a country with a democracy meeting EU standards and with an economy as advanced as a European country, even I don't care if we become a member or not," he said.