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    Ertugrul Ozkok: A quick call to Demirel at the height of an impasse

    Hürriyet Haber
    04.10.2005 - 13:57 | Son Güncelleme:

    Yesterday at around noon, I called the 9th President of the Turkish Republic, former leader Suleyman Demirel. The situation at that moment was like this: Luxembourg was at an impasse. Prime Minsister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was about to hold a press conference, and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Namik Tan had just announced that Turkey had rejected the possibility of any changes to the framework documents. In short, the crisis was in full swing.

    If you ask why it was that I felt the need to phone Demirel, my answer would be that it was instinctive. I asked him what he thought should happen in a situation like this. He said "When a situation has come to this level, it cannot be turned back." Who can't turn what back? Demirel explained that he thought neither Turkey nor the EU could turn back. In fact, he said, instead of turning back, Turkey and the EU both had to go forward with calmness. According to Demirel, "The accession talks are a process, and the process simply has to be started. The EU was formed by 6 countries, and 19 joined it later. All of them had to go through accession processes. And no one finished unsuccessfully with this process."
    So I asked him what he thought Turkey should do. He said "...These are just talks. It would be a mistake to turn them into a question of honor. After coming to this point, it is important not to give up. Don't forget that England's accession talks were stopped twice by France. Even if we cannot agree today, it is important not to close those doors."
    And if we were to close the doors? The man with 40 years of experience gives this answer:
    "It would be a failure of the government. And the people would want to know what happened later. And if Turkey passes by this chance, or gives up, its neighbors will look at it differently. When the talks were postponed in 1997, this is exactly what happened."
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