As the president of a country that has been intensely engaged in the outcomes of regional conflicts as well as domestic polarization in several areas, Abdullah Gül has given a message of unity, presenting the long-neglected European Union full membership goal as one of the main targets requiring nationwide solidarity.
Gül, who as foreign minister had been a key architect of the process leading to the start of full membership negotiations in the autumn of 2005, used a message marking the start of Eid al-Fitr today as an opportunity to popularize the EU issue on the national agenda.
“Very important projects are being implemented in our country, which has risen to the rating of investable in the entire world. The acquisitions Turkey possesses and the values it embraces also show its rising power,” Gül said in a written message on Aug. 7, the eve of Eid.
“That’s why we need to know the value of our country. We all closely know how tensions, polarizations and repetition of old mistakes have brought grief and only grief in the past; have harmed our country’s image; and have wasted our energy. We have all seen together how lawless and violent incidents disrupted the serenity of the entire country. No doubt, it should also not be forgotten that the expression of democratic reactions and societal demands and objections, on legitimate grounds, without harming serenity and without resorting to violence are indispensable elements of our democracy,” Gül said.
“Now it is a must for everybody to focus on our hopeful tomorrows by seeing all of these [facts]. We need to focus on big targets that will carry Turkey above the contemporary civilization level, such as European Union membership, and we need to be in further solidarity,” the president, who has held this post since 2007, said.
The message was also a reference to the onetime “ultimate goal” set by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, for the nation.
At the time, Atatürk set the ultimate goal for Turkey as “catching up with contemporary civilization, and, if possible, surpassing it.”
The most recent crisis in the already-stalled Turkey-EU relations was experienced after Ankara’s crackdown on anti-government protesters during the Gezi Park unrest.
Brussels postponed the negotiations until fall, but said the path to Turkey’s membership was still open.
Turkey became an associate of the bloc in the 1960s, but accession talks launched in 2005 became bogged down in a dispute over Greek Cyprus and opposition from Paris and Berlin.
Since 2005, Ankara has opened only 14 of the 35 policy chapters all EU candidate nations must successfully negotiate prior to membership. It has successfully closed only one.
The latest chapter, Chapter 22 on “Regional Policies and Coordination of Structural Instruments” was opened in June.
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