A Win-Win Relationship: Turkey and the EU - Lecture by Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs and Chie
Traveling to the US with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan for the 64th Session of the UN’s General Assembly, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis was hosted at Harvard by the Kokkalis Program for a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School.
In his lecture, entitled "A Win-Win Relationship: Turkey and the European Union" and held on Thursday, 24 September 2009, Bagis claimed that one of the most important peace projects in history, the EU, will not be complete until the accession of Turkey and added that Turkey plays an active role in transatlantic security as a country with the second largest army after the USA and the only with concurrent membership in the G-20, NATO, OECD and the Islam Conference Organization.
Illustrating with Turkey’s efforts to act as mediator for the resolution of tensions in regions such as Syria-Israel, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Lebanon-Israel, Russia-Georgia and more recently Syria-Iraq, the Minister for EU Affairs argued that the new Turkish soft power policy has brought a new dimension to the foreign policy initiatives of the EU in critical regions such as the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Central Asia and the South Caucasian region.
Alluding to the good rankings of the Turkish economy and the country’s large and dynamic population, Bagis underscored that Turkey’s accession would also have a positive effect on the labor markets and social welfare systems in European countries, faced with ageing populations and soaring expenditures.
Stressing that the EU was since its inception a project for political peace, Bagis emphasized that what gives Europe its contemporary character is diversity. For the first time since centuries, Bagis stated, there is now an opportunity to bring that diversity together and to unite Europe around shared ideals and common goals, and thus frustrate the scenario of a clash of civilizations.
Egemen Bagis was first elected to the Turkish Parliament in 2002 as a deputy of Istanbul. Bagis was the AK party's Vice Chairman in charge of Foreign Affairs and a member of AK Party's Central Executive Committee. He was appointed as Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator on January 2009 and has been working for full membership negotiations of Turkey since then.