Rate of Turks against EU membership reaches 35-40 percent

September 18, 2011, Sunday/ 17:38:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkey's European Union minister and chief negotiator, Egemen Bağış, said on Saturday that the rate of Turks who oppose Turkey's EU membership has reached 35-40 percent, during the eighth Yalta European Strategy forum in Ukraine.

Nothing that this rate was raising concerns and that Europe should solve its problems, Bağış said, “The EU is today extending more support to Turkey's membership; however, there are still some unsolved problems." The minister focused on the Turkish people's unease about the EU accession process, which has come to a deadlock, saying, “If Turkish citizens have to wait to get a visa from EU member states, they naturally feel less European. “

Pointing to Turkey's growing economy, Bağış said, “The world is changing so rapidly that the EU might seek ways to admit Turkey as a member in a short time.”

“A Europe without Turkey, which is the most rapidly growing economy in Europe and its sixth biggest economy with the youngest and most dynamic population and the strongest army, does not have a chance in security policies," he added. Expressing his hopes about this issue, Bağış noted, “I believe that days when Europe will see Turkey's potential are very close.”

Relations with Turkey will determine relations with Middle East

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Saturday that Turkey-EU relations would determine the union's relations with the Middle East and the Muslim world. “Once an authoritarian country, Turkey has enacted fantastic reforms, and Turkey and Ukraine are Europe's dynamic countries,” he added.

The union's relations with Turkey would determine its relations with the Middle East and the Muslim world, Bildt said during the eighth Yalta European Strategy forum in Ukraine.

Also speaking at the meeting, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said: “Turkey is a European country and supports European values. The most important criterion in adjusting to European values is religious freedom, which is an indispensable symbol of our government's policy,"

Çavuşoğlu also said that, on the other hand, “Europe sometimes breaks its own rules, as there are still some Turks living in Europe who do not enjoy religious freedom.”

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