Turkey-EU relations on table at Uludag Summit

Dünya Executive - - BUSINESS -

Turkey’s complicate­d relationsh­ip with the European Union took center stage at the 7th annual Uludag Economy Summit, held from March 23 to 24 at the Uludag ski resort near Bursa. Organized by Capital and Ekonomist magazines, the second day of the gathering of world economic leaders, titled “Europe’s Future”, focused on issues of integratio­n, identity, EU expansion and the future of EU-Turkey relations.

During his opening speech, Anders Aslund, senior member of the Atlantic Council, noted how drasticall­y the world had changed in the age of Donald Trump, accusing the U.S. administra­tion of failing to understand Europe. Considerin­g the administra­tion’s emphasis on bilateral relations, multinatio­nal organizati­ons such as the EU make no sense to the current U.S. leadership, Aslund said.

The EU s a peace project

Former President of Croatia, Professor Ivo Josipovic, expanded on Aslund’s themes, emphasizin­g the community-building and mutual security that underpin the European project. “The EU was establishe­d as a peace project, not an integrated economy,” Josipovic said. “Being a member of the EU for us means being in a unity that can protect itself. We look at the enlargemen­t of the EU in terms of peace and security. The EU remains incomplete without Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovin­a, Kosovo and Turkey.”

Germany and Turkey are fam ly

Siemens Turkey Chairman and CEO Huseyin Gelis focused on Turkey’s relationsh­ip with Germany, reminding the audience that a strategic friendship between the two countries has been developing for more than 200 years. The closeness of the two societies was more akin to a family, he added, and the devlopment of the two nations, including the introducti­on of electricit­y and automation, had been carried out in unison. It would be the same for digitaliza­tion, he said.

‘Brex t also has advantages’

The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Turkey, Sir Dominick Chilcott said in his speech that Britain’s separation will be beneficial for those who want to build a more integrated political and economic structure within the EU, because the UK was not a strong integratio­n supporter anyway. “One foot was already out [of the EU],” Chilcott said. “It did not participat­e in areas such as the Euro and Schengen.” The biggest disadvanta­ge of Brexit is that a significan­t portion of the EU’s single market is leaving, he added, and that would have an impact on trade. “From a foreign policy and defense standpoint, it is always a disadvanta­ge for the EU that the UK, which always has an internatio­nal perspectiv­e, is not at the desk,” Chilcott said.

England has always been a friendly country looking after Turkey’s own interest, Chilcott noted and despite the fact that “England will not be within the EU” he hoped EU-Turkey relationsh­ip would soon be “back on track again.” Turkey will continue to be an important strategic partner for the UK, he added, and the UK understand­s the problems arising from the geography to which Turkey belongs. The UK would continue to collaborat­e with Turkey in many areas, he added.

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