Türkiye will play a significant role in the changing architecture of Europe, Economic Development Foundation (IKV) Chairperson Ayhan Zeytinoğlu said Tuesday.
Speaking at the 60th general assembly of the IKV in Istanbul, Zeytinoğlu said that European expansion was once again on the agenda with balances changing following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and countries such as Albania and North Macedonia starting accession negotiations.
“In other words, while the EU enlargement process is reactivated, a change is expected in the eastern and southeastern borders of the EU. This situation is important for Türkiye,” Zeytinoğlu pointed out.
“It is of great importance that Türkiye has the right to make decisions in all European institutions, especially in the EU. Strengthening, modernizing and reforming Türkiye’s internal structure, legal system, democracy and economy in this process will enable it to have a greater say in these developments,” he added, saying that the IKV continues to work to achieve the goal of full EU membership.
Türkiye-EU relations are marked by disputes on several issues, including tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Türkiye’s role in Syria, the migrant crisis and the stalemate in Türkiye’s accession process to join the bloc. However, Türkiye recently reiterated that it is part of Europe and sees its future in the EU, adding that it will continue to work toward full membership.
Ankara is calling to reenergize the accession process, update the EU-Türkiye Customs Union, regular high-level dialogues, visa liberalization and counterterrorism.
Zeytinoğlu continued to say that Türkiye with its location linking the west with the east, its competitive industry, dynamic population, natural resources and green and digital transformation, has the potential to be one of the leading countries.
“For Türkiye, it is important to turn its advantages into gains in order to come to the fore in the restructured world economy. It is necessary to increase the share of high value-added advanced technology products in our exports by increasing our investments in education and R&D,” he said.
Indicating that Türkiye has significant advantages and potential regarding renewable energy resources and sustainable production, Zeytinoğlu added: “This is an advantage for us, and it will be possible to further develop it with the updating of the customs union and harmonizing with the Green Deal. It is of great importance to improve the investment climate in order to attract international investments, especially in the green and digital sectors.”
Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) head Şekib Avdagiç also underlined that advancing European stability, peace, security and economic development is possible by establishing strong relations with countries such as Türkiye.
“Türkiye has the potential to carry the European Union far beyond being a symbolic organization. A European Union equation without Türkiye will be full of dangers and uncertainties for Europe, as seen in the Russia-Ukraine War. The political conjuncture that we find ourselves in has once again displayed the importance of Türkiye’s full membership,” Avdagiç said.
Türkiye has the longest history with the union and the longest negotiation process. The country signed an association agreement with the EU’s predecessor in 1964, the European Economic Community (EEC), which is usually regarded as a first step to eventually becoming a candidate. Applying for official candidacy in 1987, Türkiye had to wait until 1999 to be granted the status of a candidate country. For the start of the negotiations, however, Türkiye had to wait for another six years, until 2005, a uniquely long process compared with other candidates.