Finland's Stubb hails Turkey as one wolrd's top five countries
An informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels over the weekend saw remarks recognizing Turkey's strategic importance for the 27-nation bloc, including comments by figures who had previously voiced doubts about such recognition. The most assertive remarks about Turkey's growing influence on the global stage came from Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, who hailed the EU candidate country as "one of the top five countries in the world today" in terms of foreign policy. "Arguably, today Turkey is more influential in the world than any of our member states together or separately," Stubb said Saturday. "It has a great influence in the Middle East, in the African Horn in the Persian Gulf, in Iran. It's a truly global player, and we need to work together with Turkey right now on foreign and security policy." German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that it is important that Turkey see that Europe is serious about working together. "As Europeans, we have great interest in making sure that Turkey remains oriented towards the West and does not reorient itself," he said. Britain had already publicly expressed its opposition to France and Germany's proposal for Turkey to accept a lesser "privileged partnership" – something Turkey firmly rejects. "It would be good to see these talks speed up," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in Brussels, as having Turkey cooperating with the bloc "is a very powerful combination to have." Sweden's Carl Bildt took an even stronger stance. "There are certain countries which have fairly deep reservations, but even those countries I think recognize more than they perhaps did in the past the strategic importance of Turkey to the EU," Bildt said. "It is of course fundamentally unacceptable that countries for their own political reasons block the accession process." Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet agreed, saying that EU states now realize that "there are two most important strategic partners: the US and Turkey."