ANKARA - In a three-hour briefing, Turkey’s new negotiator for EU talks, Egemen Bağış, responds to questions one by one from the members of Parliament’s EU Commission and sought support from ruling and opposition party deputies
"We’ll continue opposing any alternative other than full membership," Egemen Bağış told the members of Parliament’s EU Harmonization Commission. He briefed the deputies about the course of the Turkish-EU talks and the country’s National Program, a roadmap to advance the country’s bid to join the bloc. Bağış noted that the EU was Turkey’s dietician.
A long-lasting debate on separating Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s two hats came to an end this month, with the government picking a new negotiator for its EU bid. Before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s scheduled visit to Brussels early this week, Bağış was appointed chief negotiator and was welcomed by EU officials as a signal of the government’s willingness to revive the stalled reforms at a time when Ankara was coming under fire for failing to live up to its obligations for accession.
At yesterday’s three-hour briefing, Bağış responded to questions one by one from the members of the parliamentary commission and sought support from ruling and opposition party deputies.
Osman Coşkunoğlu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said the government’s decision to pick a new negotiator came late, while claiming that the National Program was the roadmap of the ruling party. Another deputy from the CHP Şükrü Elekdağ said the National Program was a modernization project. The National Program recently approved by President Abdullah Gül is a blueprint detailing the country’s short and long term commitments to fulfill the reforms required to join the EU.
In response, Bağış said the government was conducting the negotiations with the EU without making concessions on the national policy and said the outcome of the accession talks was full membership.
He said some European politicians were making statements as if there were other alternatives to Turkey’s full membership and stressed that such remarks meant nothing. Bağış also explained the government’s position toward the Cyprus issue and recalled how Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stuck at the table at an EU summit due to the Cyprus row.
He underlined that the EU was Turkey’s dietician. "We know we should observe a diet in order to lead a healthy life but we face difficulties while doing so. I liken the EU criteria to a dietician’s prescription. 27 nations that use this prescription are living under more contemporary and democratic conditions. The National Program we drafted is a modernization project," Bağış said.
EU Secretary General Ambassador Oğuz Demiralp responded to technical questions posed by the deputies. He said the issues related to Cyprus and Greece were included in the introductory part of the National Program in order to stress that Turkey’s policy would not change due to certain approaches adopted by the EU. Demiralp added the issue of financing politics was also covered in the program and that a law was being drafted on the issue.