turska europa.jpg
Photograph: HINA /Zvonimir KUHTIĆ/ zk

It is Turkey's strategic goal to join the European Union as a full member to the benefit of both sides, and the ongoing migrant crisis has proven that we need each other not only for the sake of economic progress but also because of stability and security, Turkish Ambassador to Croatia Ahmet Tuta said in Zagreb on Friday.

Becoming an EU member is a strategic option for us. This migrant crisis has shown that both sides need each other, and if Turkey remains alone, this will certainly not contribute to the security of Europe, the Turkish diplomat said during a panel discussion on the relations between the 28-strong bloc and Turkey, organised by the Information Office of the European Parliament in Zagreb.

During the discussion, involving Croatian members of the European Parliament, Andrej Plenkovic and Davor Skrlec and Croatian political pundits, Ambassador Tuta said that he expected Turkey's full EU membership and not a privileged partnership.

He said that Europe should not ignore the strategic importance of its relations with Turkey and recalled recent eventful developments in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Russia and Greece.

And we are in the middle of all that, the Turkish diplomat stressed, adding that global and regional threats require concerted action by Turkey and the European Union.

Civil wars and conflicts in the region bear witness to the fact that Turkey is a key to Europe's political and economic stability, while Turkey's membership of the EU is important for the country's stability, according to the ambassador's address.

In the same vein, the Turkish ministry of EU affairs notes in its document "Turkey's New European Union Strategy" that Ankara believes that "the EU will adopt a vision that suits its global power rather than inward-facing policies, while furthering enlargement negotiations and pursuing a harmonious neighbourhood policy."

"Turkey will continue to progress and determinedly pursue its objective of membership in a period that affirms our 'Strong Turkey, Strong EU' perspective," reads the strategy.

Croatian MEP Andrej Plenkovic recalled the 50-year-long journey of Turkey towards the European bloc that started in 1963 with the signing of the Ankara Agreement on creating an association between Turkey and the then European Economic Community.

Turkey submitted an application for the status of candidate in 1987 and was granted that status in 1990, Plentovic said.

In 2005, Turkey and Croatia opened accession negotiations with the EU. The Croatian MEP described the ongoing Turkey-EU relations "as an arranged engagement that has lasted very, very long". However, Plenkovic hopes that the finish of this engagement will be special.

Plenkovic welcomed an action plan concluded between the EU and Turkey in late November at a Brussels summit which he saw as an act of "turning a new page in the negotiating process".

The first result of the invigorated process is the opening of the policy chapter on the economic and monetary union, he added.

Plenkovic does not believe that the negotiations have been invigorated "out of necessity" as claimed by some who believe the EU is trying to make Turkey step up cooperation in rationing the refuge influx. He said that EU cooperation with Turkey was necessary as this was cooperation with a partner country.

As for culture and world-view matters, Ambassador Tuta said that Turkey wants to be a part of secular Europe populated by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Related stories

Latest news

Erdogan lashes out at newspaper over report on military unrest

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday slammed Hurriyet newspaper over a report saying that military top brass was "restless" over criticisms against its leadership.

Serb ministers end boycott of Bosnian government

Serb ministers in the Bosnian Council of Ministers on Tuesday attended a session of the body, ending a boycott they began last week because of a request to revise an International Court of Justice ruling Serbia of genocide.

As Europe hardens its line on migration, children bear the brunt

The number of children arriving on their own in Europe doubled in 2016, and is set to increase this year. But the response by governments has not matched the need, pushing some into criminality and prostitution.

China considers subsidies for second child

The Chinese government is mulling paying parents to have a second baby, a year after it did away with its controversial one-child policy, state media reported Tuesday.

Business group urges Britain to delay Brexit if negotiations stall

The British government should push to extend Brexit negotiations if it is unable to agree a deal on leaving the European Union within two years, a business group said on Tuesday.

At least 1,500 child soldiers ensnared in Yemen war, UN says

Some 1,500 boys have been verified as child soldiers in Yemen, but the actual number of children who have been drawn into the war is probably far higher, a UN spokeswoman said Tuesday.

President says Croatia tolerant, marginal groups shouldn't be given attention

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday condemned the frequent incidents motivated by hate and intolerance and said marginal movements and isolated cases should not be given too much attention.

Austria identifies US-based Turk as source of cyberattacks

A string of cyberattacks against Austrian institutions has been linked to a Turkish suspect operating out of the US state of Kentucky, an Austrian newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an investigation by the army's intelligence agency.

Italy restores, returns IS-vandalized busts to Syria

Two ancient Roman busts, which were transported to Italy after being vandalized by the Islamic State extremist group in the Syrian city of Palmyra, have been restored and returned to Damascus, the Italian ministry of culture said Tuesday.

Norwegian state pension fund almost doubles return in 2016

The Norwegian state pension fund reported a return of almost 7 per cent in 2016 on the back of strong stock markets in the second half of the year, the Scandinavian country's central bank said Tuesday.

Croatian PM says sports needs to be given back to athletes

Commenting on an ultimatum the Bridge party made on Monday when it asked for a replacement of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) leadership, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that "sports needs to be given back to athletes."

Three killed after small plane crashes into California homes

Three people were killed and two injured on Monday after a small plane crashed into a residential neighbourhood in the city of Riverside in California, local fire chief Michael Moore told reporters.

Austria toughens measures against rejected asylum seekers

Austria will increase penalties for rejected asylum seekers who refuse to leave the country, the government decided Tuesday, in a move that ups the pressure on migrants in the country.

Tata, DoCoMo settle 1.2-billion dollar telecom dispute

India's Tata Sons on Tuesday agreed to pay Japan's NTT DoCoMo 1.18 billion dollars in regard to the termination of their telecom partnership in the country.

Taliban militants kill 12 policemen in southern Afghanistan

Taliban militants killed 12 Afghan policemen at an outpost in the embattled southern province of Helmand, in what officials described Tuesday as a possible inside job.

Danish man on trial over Filipino webcam rape and abuse

A Danish man went on trial Tuesday charged with 346 counts of paying for online sex shows and rape involving Filipino girls.

PM reassures Croats they won't feel gas price rise

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that gas price tariffs would be determined towards the main supplier, the state power provider HEP, that would sell it to other wholesale suppliers in the network and that price formation would be conducted in such a way that Croatians did not feel any price rise.

Italy's Mount Etna erupts, but poses no threat so far

Sicily's Mount Etna volcano erupted on Monday evening, a spokesman for the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) told dpa on Tuesday.