Egemen Bağış slams Sarkozy’s negativity concerning Turkey

April 30, 2012, Monday/ 18:00:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkey’s potential is showcased by its positive economic figures, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy could acknowledge the importance of such potential if he compares these figures with those of his own country, Turkey’s Chief EU Negotiator Egemen Bağış has claimed.

During a meeting with the head of the European Commission Delegation to Turkey Jean-Maurice Ripert on Monday in Ankara, Bağış stated that Turkey has been the fastest growing economy in Europe for the last six years, when reminded of Sarkozy’s latest negative remarks about Turkey.

In a recent letter addressed to his French constituency, the incumbent French president maintained that Turkey has no capacity for EU accession, sparking reactions from Turkey.

Sarkozy is a staunch opponent of Turkey’s EU bid, also blocking Turkish efforts for visa-free travel between Turkey and the EU.

“Turkey is ahead of many EU countries in terms of its economic capacity,” Bağış claimed, saying that Sarkozy would acknowledge this fact by comparing the situation of “France under his rule” and Turkey.

Touching upon the visa issue between the EU and Turkey, Bağış asserted that “there is no signal of a green light looking [at] the current situation. … Probably everyone also in Europe [is] wait[ing] for the end of [the] French elections [to see progress on the visa issue].”

Bağış also noted in the meeting that EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle would visit Ankara on May 17, and they would hold a meeting on a new positive agenda in Turkey-EU relations.

Bağış said Turkey was continuing its relations with the EU with great determination.

Out of 35 chapters in Turkey’s EU acquis communautaire, only 13 are open, 17 are blocked, four have not been opened yet and only one is provisionally closed. The positive agenda foresees informal talks between the EU Commission and Turkey on the blocked chapters, in which views will be exchanged over how Turkey could make progress in them, without affecting their status as being blocked. Should the EU commission and Turkey engage in successful negotiations over some points in these chapters, the commission would try to persuade EU Council members, which have the last say on enlargement and the opening of chapters, in favor of Turkey. The EU Commission has specified some areas, such as visa liberalization, economic relations and foreign policy dialogue, on which Turkey and the EU need to achieve substantial progress.

The EU says Turkey first needs to finalize a re-admission agreement for illegal immigrants with the 27-member bloc before starting talks over facilitating visas for Turkish nationals.

But Turkey first wants to see progress on visa liberalization before signing the readmission deal with the EU.

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