‘Turkey’s Membership Brings Great Opportunities’

Verheugen said Turkey’s membership will bring forth great opportunities. He added, that even with new members joining the ranks on May 1st it still behooves the Union to grant membership to Turkey. "With Turkey, the E.U. will have borders to regions in crisis. In this case, we will need a joint foreign and security policy. The membership of Turkey will bring great opportunities," said Verheugen.

The Commissioner underscored the fact that the relations between the Western and Islamic worlds are one of the most important geo-strategic issues of the 21st century. He went on to say that the example of a Muslim country such as Turkey being able to harmonize with a western democracy concept and law and order would have a great effect on its neighbors as well.

Verheugen then harshly criticized remarks by the Christian Democratic Union parties who were complaining that Turkey’s annual membership cost to the E.U. would be in excess of 14 billion Euros. "These numbers are all nonsense. It is not even certain on what basis the membership discussions with Turkey to be started," countered Verheugen

He disclosed that basis for Turkey’s membership discussions would not be the same as the ones for current members. Verheugen underlined that money transferred to the candidate countries returns with higher demand to the old members.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported that the majority of statements by Verheugen should be taken with a grain of salt. In the news article, prior statements by Verheugen were compared to the ones he is currently making. During the time he was the State Minister in the German cabinet for instance, he was vehement that Turkey should not be given hope about membership. However, now he seems to support Turkey’s membership.