Sampaio: EU membership will have fundamental effects on both Turkey and EU

June 26, 2007, Tuesday/ 20:46:00
The high representative of the UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations project has said that Turkey’s accession into the European Union will have “fundamental effects” on both Turkey and the EU itself.Former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, who was appointed as high representative by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after consultation with the co-chairs of the initiative, Turkey and Spain, attended a meeting organized by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) about the current situation of the alliance and to discuss related issues with Turkish participants from academia and the media.

Stating that there are countries that are totally against Turkey’s membership of the EU and those that support it, Sampaio suggested “patience” for Turkey on the road to accession. Stressing the importance of the continuation of Turkey’s membership process for itself and the world, he said: “Membership processes of the candidate countries have been very different in the past, too. For instance Spain’s membership was quick; however the membership process of Portugal took seven-and-a-half years.”  

Giving information about the efforts of the Alliance of Civilizations, Sampaio stated that the alliance plays a very important role in promoting mutual understanding among cultures and civilizations and trying to improve inter-cultural tolerance and dialogue all over the world. Noting that he had recently delivered an implementation report to Ban, Sampaio expressed his happiness to see the number of the supporting and friend countries of the alliance reach 152.

Saying that the Alliance of Civilizations is not the only initiative of its kind on the ground, Sampaio stated that many NGOs and international organizations have carried on similar projects that are not in competition, but complementary to each other.

Summarizing the goals of the alliance as seeking a remedy to global polarization among the cultures and preventing extremism, Sampaio said it is trying to raise public awareness of the fact that sustainable peace and security can only be assured through intercultural tolerance and dialogue.

Defining the Alliance of Civilizations initiative as “non-arrogant, but modest,” Sampaio said that the alliance had adopted two methods to improve inter-cultural peace and understanding, the “cleaning house” approach and the “media-based rapid response mechanism.”

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