Economy no longer an exuce for EU delays, says Babacan

The old argument that Turkey can't be accepted in the European Union due to economic problems no longer holds any water, since the country has left most of those difficulties behind, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan said yesterday. Speaking at a meeting of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) in Brussels, Babacan said the EU is concerned about the future of some of its member countries' economies, particularly Greece, but that Turkey no longer suffers such problems. "Today, the EU can't tell Turkey that it can't be accepted as a member because its national income is too low or because it is poor," he said. "If they claim that Turkey's entry would shake the economic balance in the union, then we have the right to ask them to explain what they are planning to do with such relatively poor countries as Bulgaria and Romania." On the EU's current financial woes, Babacan said it failed to adopt a strategy to help it recover from the crisis. "This is causing great uncertainty," Babacan said. He added that Turkey maintained its credibility in global markets by carrying out timely reforms and brought its deficit under control thanks to recent structural measures. Stating that the EU might be cool to enlargement due to its economic problems and internal issues, Babacan said Turkey's status as a country that would take a load off the Union's shoulders should make it more desirable for Brussels. He said the EU's attitude towards Turkey will improve as it becomes more aware of the country's potential. On the government's new package of constitutional changes, Babacan said once it is passed and goes into effect, Turkey will make remarkable progress towards aligning itself with EU standards. "This will have positive effects on the economy in the long run as well," he added.