SCHRODER: 'EU DOES NOT APPRECIATE TURKEY'S ROLE'

Hurriyet Daily News
Nov 2 2009
Turkey

Turkey has been promised membership to the European Union and the bloc
should keep this promise, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder
said Monday at a conference organized by private construction company
Simpas.

Schroder was the first foreign former leader to talk on the theme of
"leadership for sustainable success" at the conference, which was held
to celebrate the company's 35th anniversary. Former U.S. President
Bill Clinton was scheduled to speak after Schroder.

Schroder said he regretted that the EU does not appreciate Turkey's
role in helping to solve regional conflicts. He called for the
continuation of reforms in Turkey and for patience in the country's
EU membership bid.

Europe can survive the challenges of globalization only if it pursues
a common internal market policy and external enlargement process,
said Schroder. Europe should be the third pole in the world, he
said, adding, "We will only succeed if the EU continues its internal
integration policy and its external enlargement, by building bridges
to Arab countries through Turkey's accession process."

Schroder said the negotiations with Turkey serve only one purpose:
full membership. The principle of pacta sunt servanda, which that
translates into English as "promises must be kept," is important,
Schroder said. "No one should and can ignore this principle," he added.

According to the former chancellor, Turkey has been promised membership
and this promise needs to be kept. "Turkey's accession will bring
considerable benefits to Europe," he said. "Over the decades, Turkey
has been a reliable partner for Germany and Europe."

"The vital importance of Turkey's accession is that Turkey serves as
a model for other Muslim countries in our European neighborhood,"
he said, adding that a democratic Turkey is proof that there is no
contradiction between the Islamic faith and enlightened society.

Schroder said Turkey is aware of its function as bridge. He also
praised Turkey's policy on Cyprus and said it had won international
respect.

After referring to the Turkey-Armenia normalization process, Schroder
said Turkey plays a major role in helping find solutions to conflicts
in European neighborhoods. "I regret that this is not sufficiently
appreciated in the EU," he said.

Schroder said Turkey's role in energy security will also be vital,
especially in the Nabucco and South Stream projects. As an adviser
to Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, he was careful to mention these
two projects compete with each other.

Nabucco aims to bring Caspian gas to Europe via Turkey to reduce
European dependence to Russia; South Stream, a project spearheaded
by Russia, aims to provide an alternative route to Europeans in order
to bypass the Ukrainian route, which has proven to be problematic in
the past.

At the end of his speech, Schroder said Turkey's accession to the EU
has been a long and difficult process that requires patience and the
continuation of reforms.

In response to a question, Schroder said he has great respect for
the Turkish leadership and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
had surprised many European leaders by showing how serious he was
in undertaking reforms. "Some European leaders were not expecting
that Turkish leadership and Prime Minister Erdogan would succeed in
internal reforms," he said.

Schroder said the policy of the new government in Berlin would not
change dramatically. "The new government will learn that Turkey's
accession to the EU is not only important for Turkey but also very,
very important for the EU as well."