Hailing Turkey's "economic miracle", EP's Greens urge it to continue to act as bridge
Defending Turkey's integration into the European Union, the European Parliament's Greens yesterday urged that Turkey continue to be a bridge for the West to the East, adding that the debate over Turkey's alleged "axis shift" to the East has been eclipsed by its economic miracle, although political concerns remain. Speaking in Istanbul, Rebecca Harms, the EP Greens co-chair, cited 2004 remarks by her colleague Daniel Cohn-Bendit. "He said 'We want a Bosporus miracle' regarding Turkish membership. Now another miracle has happened," she said, adding that Europe is facing crises both economically and over the issue of integration. "The EU is facing a crisis, but there is a miracle in Turkey," she said. "Due to of its economic success, Turkey has been emancipated in its foreign policy." Speaking at a press conference, the leaders of the EP's Greens, joined by French Green Helene Flautre, who co-chairs the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, stressed the interdependence of Turkey and Europe, saying that both sides must confront obstacles to Turkey's EU membership, including Cyprus. According to Flautre, the issue of Cyprus will be solved when Europeans understand that their future lies with Turkey. On the "axis shift" allegations, Cohn-Bendit said, "Turkey is a big country. That's why we defend its integration. Our problem is not whether Turkey is moving toward the East. Turkey has its own position. Our problem is that Turkey should continue its role of mediation in the Middle East. It should be a bridge to the East." Cohn-Bendit had a one-and-a-half hour meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Istanbul for another meeting. Harms added that Turkey has interests not only in Eastern countries but also in European ones. "We need to identify those interdependencies," she added. "There are strong, binding connections between Turkey and Europe, and these are even stronger than the economic ties." Cohn-Bendit also said the Greens favor the EU establishing direct trade with Turkish Cypriots.