Finland's Ahtisaari: "The EU should treat Turkey fairly"
Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, now head of the Independent Commission on Turkey, on Wednesday spoke about the commission's new report on Turkey, "Turkey in Europe: Breaking the Vicious Circle," at Washington-based think-tank the Brookings Institution. In his address, Ahtisaari said by saying that Turkey would not be an EU member after the negotiations had already started, certain EU countries were going against unanimous decisions made at EU summits. Ahtisaari said there was no reason for Europe to be afraid of Turkey's membership, as the two share important interests. "Turkey's membership will give the EU a new dynamism," Ahtisaari said. Turkey's EU accession bid should be treated fairly to protect the Union's credibility, he said, adding that statements from certain member countries harm the process. Stressing that most EU member governments continue to support Turkey's EU bid, he called on Ankara to step up EU reform efforts, and welcomed recent government steps to solve the so-called Kurdish question or southeastern Anatolia issue, and to normalize ties with Armenia. He said Turkey now is more open to discussions of Armenia and praised the contribution of intellectuals to this process. Pointing to the importance of recent diplomatic moves starting with a visit to Armenia by President Abdullah Gul to see a soccer match, Ahtisaari added, "However, decisions made by foreign parliaments regarding the so-called Armenian genocide harm peace efforts between Turkey and Armenia and discourage the Turkish public." Ahtisaari also said Turkish-Armenian relations will positively affect the entire Caucasus region.