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    Ertugrul Ozkok: I recall the day Bulgaria started EU talks: reflections on the path we've taken

    Hürriyet Haber
    05.10.2005 - 11:21 | Son Güncelleme:

    I remember very well what I felt the day Bulgaria began talks for full EU membership. I couldn't admit it at that time, but now I will say it: it was more than envy, and some jealousy. A strange feeling. And on that day, Bulgaria started to look different to my eyes. Their economy was no better than ours. Their personal income level was lower than ours. Their roads, transportation network, sports fields, health facilities, even the cars being driven on their roads: in so many ways, Turkey was way ahead of them. But while they had begun their accession talks, it was unclear whether or not we ever would.

    Yesterday, the British newspaper The Independent ran a map showing the "new frontier" of Europe. It shows the new EU borders stretching to the eastern borders of Turkey. Which would mean that Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbayjian would become border neighbors with the EU. Looking at this map, I wondered what the youth of Iran and Syria might be thinking looking at this map. Would they feel what I felt when Bulgaria started accession talks? Or something different? I am sure it is something more, something much deeper they are feeling. Because if Europe's western interests rub up against Iran and Syria, this is a social osmosis which will certainly affect those societies.
    Look at what life has brought us. 20 years ago, modern and westernized people in Turkey were afraid of the effect the Iranian revolution might have on us. This fear was on the verge of turning into a nightmare. But the landscape is so different on October 4. The accession talks with Turkey will shake the Islamic regime in Iran. Our neighbors will be deeply affected by our new partnership.
    When it comes to what is happening inside Turkey...
    For many, the night which tied October 3 and October 4 was seen as a victory for modernization. I was one of those who saw it that way. But a not small faction in the country saw it as a night when "national strength was defeated." For them, the accession process will never be perceived as more than a war between Turkey and the conditions the EU is trying to impose on it. There will be a domestic struggle between those who want to walk the accession path, and those who have sworn to force Turkey to give it up. 
    Yesterday I was Malatya for a meeting entitled "Europe in Anatolia." While there, I was thinking: Turkey is different from other countries in the EU, and maybe its advantage is derived from this. It has a national dynamism, and a global spirit,of enterprise and initiative. Is it utopian or fantastic thinking which leads me to believe we can capture these characteristics to throw ourselves forward? I think people on all sides of this question in Turkey should think about this. Especially CHP and MHP supporters.
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