Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you tonight to celebrate the Europe Day. Our Minister Volkan Bozkır also desired to be with us, but unfortunately his busy schedule did not allow him. He wanted me to pass along his best wishes for this celebration.
65 years ago, on 9th of May 1950, Robert Schuman shared his vision for a united, stable, peaceful and prosperous Europe through his historical Declaration. His words laid the ground for the most successful integration projects of human kind.
As we celebrate the Europe Day to honour Schuman’s declaration, we should remember especially three key quotes from it, which I find highly relevant in the face of today’s challenges.
The Schuman Declaration begins with reminding us that “world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it”. I believe that the timeless wisdom in his words emphasizes that we have to ponder on creative policies and actions together to overcome today’s common challenges.
Second key point is, “the contribution, which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.” An organized and living Europe can only be sustained with an inclusive approach, based on shared values of peace, inclusiveness, solidarity, democracy and the rule of law.
Lastly, the quote that we should remind ourselves every day is: “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” 65 years on since the Declaration, building of Europe is still in progress and it requires ever more solidarity, patience and commitment.
Every year we celebrate the Europe Day to commemorate and cherish the achievements of the EU and European integration. Yet, it should also be an opportunity to look forward.
Looking forward brings us to a debate about the future of Europe in terms of its identity, its economy, its political and institutional structure, and its role in our globalizing world.
As a European country, Turkey cannot remain indifferent to this debate. In fact, Turkey is in the core of this debate. Being part of Europe historically, politically and economically, Turkey wishes to see the European Project overcoming the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Turkey continues to make a strong and unique contribution to this end with its self-confidence. This contribution will be further multiplied once Turkey becomes a member of the EU.
EU membership is a strategic objective for Turkey which we will continue to pursue with greater determination. However, our determination deserves the necessary political will on the EU side to make concrete progress in our accession process.
Turkey has been going through an enormous socio-economic transformation in the last decade thanks to further reforms, an economic restoration in tune with the global economy and an active foreign policy. The EU accession process has its share in this major change. Yet, the accession process has to keep up with Turkey’s dynamism and should not be lagging behind.
As Europeans, we hold the future of Europe in our hands. We share common challenges in the region and beyond. In order to respond these challenges, we must stay united. What unite us are our common values.
As Jean Monnet, stated rightfully, “We are not forming coalitions of states, we are uniting people”.
This is a moment to be seized by both sides, Turkey and the EU. Turkey’s membership to the EU is a win-win-win: for Turkey, for Europe and beyond.
Happy Europe Day!