Ahmet Davutoğlu: Turkey ‘will never beg’ for EU membership

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says “Turkey ‘will never beg’ for EU membership”.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu says “Turkey ‘will never beg’ for EU membership”.

Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Ankara “will never beg for membership” in the European Union at a time when both Turkey and the 27-member bloc are making efforts to revive the accession talks, currently at a standstill.

“We will never beg for EU membership,” Davutoğlu said during a conference in Finland’s capital of Helsinki on Wednesday while responding to a question by a Greek Cypriot envoy in Finland.

Greek Cypriot Ambassador Filippos Kritiotis read out loud a section from Turkey’s EU progress report, where Ankara was criticized for not living up to its commitments on the Cyprus problem, and asked if Turkey is going to continue with its position.

Davutoğlu said there are many paragraphs in the progress report that welcome positive developments in Turkey and recalled the unfair treatment of Turkish Cyprus by the 27-member club despite promises to do otherwise.

Davutoğlu noted that European leaders had promised to Turkey that all embargoes imposed on Turkish Cyprus would be lifted once the island’s Turkish community said “yes” in a referendum in 2004 to a plan drafted by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reunify the island.

The Turkish foreign minister said the EU reneged on its promise and accepted Greek Cyprus as its member despite the fact that they voted “no” in the referendum. “They continue to isolate Cypriot Turks,” Davutoğlu added.

Davutoğlu stressed that if the Greek Cypriots had said “yes” to the Annan plan in 2004, full economic integration would have been established between Turkey and Cyprus and Greek Cypriots would have benefitted from this cooperation more than anyone else, adding that Greek Cypriots would not have a bankrupt economy today if the outcome of the 2004 referendum had been different.

Turkey opened accession talks with the EU in 2005, but progress has been slow since then due to the Cyprus dispute as well as opposition to Turkey’s membership by some member countries, including France and Germany. Of the 35 chapters that must be successfully negotiated by any candidate country as a condition for membership, only 13 have been opened by Turkey; 17 have been blocked and four have not yet been opened — only one, on science and research, is provisionally closed. No chapters have been opened in the past two-and-a-half years, since the end of the Spanish presidency in June 2010.

Claiming that the Greek Cypriots are blocking Turkey’s EU membership, Davutoğlu said they believe Turkey will become weaker and beg for membership in the EU. He pointed to Turkey’s economic growth and suggested making a comparison between the Turkish economy and Greek Cypriot and European economies.

“We will never beg. Should there be an integration, it must be fair,” the Turkish foreign minister underlined.

Davutoğlu also said that if the Greek Cypriot administration had approved the Annan plan, there would have been a united Cyprus and there would have been full economic integration between Turkey and Cyprus and also Greek Cypriot economy would not have faced bankruptcy.

Turkey froze what were already stagnant relations with the EU in the second half of 2012, when the Greek Cypriot administration assumed the rotating EU presidency.

EU countries have recently expressed regret over Turkey’s frozen relations with the EU and refusal to address the Greek Cypriot administration.

Ireland, which will assume the rotating EU presidency starting Jan. 1, 2013, has said it will aim to revitalize the stagnant relations between the EU and Turkey, claiming that Turkey should be able to open at least one chapter of the EU acquis communautaire during the Irish term.

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