Monday, 29 August 2011

Turkey looks to Poland for EU backing

Turkey looks to Poland for EU backing
29.08.2011 12:12

Turkey hopes that Poland's presidency of the European Council, which began 1 July, will accelerate the country's integration into the EU.

At a meeting with Polish journalists in Istanbul, thanks were made for supporting Turkey thus far, while the country's Minister of European Affairs, Egeman Bagis, underlined the question of visas as a key question at accession talks.

“We are expecting a strong position from the Polish side regarding the matter of these nonsensical visas for Turkish citizens,” he said.

“The European Commission is in talks with Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Moldova about liberalizing the visa regime, but not with Turkey,” he lamented.

“This is nonsense,” he added, stressing that 65 percent of Turkish trade is carried out with Europe.

“We are a full member of the EU Customs Union, our products are allowed to travel within the Union, but the owners of these products are not,” he said.

“Businessmen who want to participate in trade fairs in Warsaw must obtain a visa,” he noted.

“We have to change this.”

Last December, while Prime Minister Donald Tusk was in Istanbul, the Polish premier pledged to do everything in his power to redress the visa situation.

Turkey began official talks about accession to the EU in 2005. Nevertheless, France, Germany and Cyprus are among the most outspoken opponents, citing matters such as gender equality, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Ali Babacan told Polish journalists that his country was grateful for Polish support thus far, and noted his own country's solidarity with Poland.

“We very actively supported the process of Poland's accession to NATO and the European Union, and now we are very happy to receive serious and friendly support from the Polish side in our process of integration with the Union,” he said.

“I think that from the very beginning, Poland was very open on this issue, and streadfastly supported our process of integration, and we very much appreciate this,” he added.

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