Davutoglu: "EU accession is Turkey's main option, but not its only one"
Allegations of Turkey abandoning its quest to move closer to the West in favor of turning to the East came up again yesterday when Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met in Istanbul with representatives of the Greens in the European Parliament. "Our foreign policy is consistent with Turkey's democratization process: soft-power oriented, involving more mediation in order to achieve a peaceful neighborhood around Turkey," said Davutoglu. "This does not mean turning to the east." He then pointed to Ankara's "zero problems with its neighbors" policy, saying it is in part meant to assure Turco-skeptics who fear that if Turkey joins the European Union, the EU will be neighbors with problematic countries. "In the last five years, we changed this paradigm, as we have excellent relations with our neighbors," he said. "But now they ask us why we have good relations with Iraq, Syria and Iran. We're confused." He added that Turkey's foreign policy is compatible with the values and norms of the EU. "This isn't challenging the EU, but rather complements the EU's strategic choices," he argued. "We're not focused on security like during the Cold War, we're focused on freedom. Our policies aren't NATO related, they are EU related." Davutoglu told the European Greens, who held their enlarged bureau meeting this week in Istanbul, that in addition to Turkey's future with the EU, the future of the EU itself needs to be discussed. "What type of Europe do you imagine culturally, strategically and economically in 2050?" he asked. "How strong will Europe's economy be in the world? These are questions [that need to be asked] regardless of Turkish membership." He added, "Will Europe continue to be a white, Christian continent or a multicultural one?" Davuoglu also stressed that although it is still the main option, the EU is not Turkey's only option, and Turkey's accession process will be a litmus test for the 27-nation bloc.