Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik made a speech titled “Turkey, the UK and Europe: Vision of a Common Future” at the London Chatham Royal Foreign Affairs Institute” during his visit to the UK.
Indicating the Turkey and the UK were the two main pillars of Europe during his speech, Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “The UK as Europe’s door to the Atlantic, and Turkey as Europe’s door to Asia will both continue to influence European politics.”
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik indicated that the UK was in a process of exiting from the EU (Brexit) which did not change the fact that the UK was an important European power, and said that the importance of the UK for the security of Europe could not be overlooked. Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik emphasized that Turkey’s contribution to European security regarding both the fight against Da’esh and the governance of the migration crisis was apparent.
Reminding that the question of what kind of an EU it would be without Turkey as a member was currently on the agenda, Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “We did not welcome Brexit. We would have preferred that an ally like the UK which supported Turkey’s EU membership remain in the EU. Certainly we respect the decision of the UK people. Our political position is to be an EU member along with the UK. Thus, we believe that the Brexit process will fundamentally change the EU and we follow this process carefully.”
-Europe’s crisis of legitimacy
Pointing out that the inability of the liberal world to fulfil its promises had shaken the confidence of the people in democracy, Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “The confidence in the European project and the commitment of the EU to universal values are being questioned as a result of such developments as the influence of Brexit on the integrity of Europe, the strengthening of the extreme right in Europe, and weaknesses in the fight against terrorism and irregular migration.”
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik emphasized that the centre parties in Europe caused the problem to increase when they were unable to create alternatives to the virtually racist discourses of antagonism towards Islam, and opposition to immigrants and multiculturalism.
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik indicated that “the confidence of the European people in the EU was replaced by a crisis of legitimacy” and said: “Just as post-World War II international circumstances created a demand for the establishment of the EU and made the EU into the most important “soft power” of the-post war years, international circumstances are forcing the EU to find itself a new place in the international system.”
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik emphasized that in this framework it had become essential that the EU review its current policies and partnership, the enlargement and neighbourhood policy in particular.
- Inclusive policies
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “In the forthcoming period, Europe will face challenges to its ability to revitalise its development.” Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik also underlined that Europe should not become introverted.
Indicating that it is necessary for the EU to bring to the forefront the concept of social inclusion in order to maintain its status as a soft power in the 21st century, the Minister
for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “The EU needs to place the concept of social inclusion on its agenda in order to eliminate social polarisation and protect society from the influences of hate crimes, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Although these inclusive policies may seem costly at first to Europe in the short term, these policies will ensure the protection of European security and welfare in the long term.”
Pointing out that the Russian policy in Crimea, migration, refugee influx and the issues of Ukraine and Syria are not matters that the EU can resolve by itself, Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said: “The EU would be better able to respond to these crises if the EU were to adopt an approach for these matters, based on equality for those who are not a part of itself, rather than making these into the “Other”, and if the EU could renew its social order in this manner.”
Minister for EU Affairs Ömer Çelik said that it was apparent that the Turkey-EU relations needs to strengthen in the future, and said: “It is clear that those who currently try to exclude Turkey and make statements regarding ‘the suspension of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations’ cannot serve the future that Europe speaks of.