Turkey-EU relations on table at Uludag Summit
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.