Trade ties with bordering countries key to Turkey’s EU accession


Referans - Recent improvements in ties with surrounding countries, such as the abolition of visa requirements and signing of FTA’s, could play a key role in Turkey’s accession to the European Union (EU), where calls for economic restructuring are increasingly heard. In Turkey, on the other hand, similar calls for highlighting the country’s rising influence over its region as a lever in negotiations with the EU as the 27-nation bloc tries to outline a new strategy to avoid further internal crises.


Haluk Kabaalioglu, Chairman of the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), said that Turkey will be putting itself in a strong position in its bid for EU accession if it can improve its relations with the Middle East and Central Asia. Kabaalioglu reminded that Spain also took advantage of a similar situation in the past by using its ties with South American and Portuguese markets. Kabaalioglu said, “Just as Spain offered South American market in its bid for EU accession, Turkey can put forward a similar offer. We should use this advantage carefully. The EU will evaluate Turkey from a different perspective during the restructuring process. That’s why the elimination of visas and free trade agreements with other countries are very important for the EU.”


Bahadir Kaleagasi, Brussels Representative of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD), has noted the changes in the EU’s stance in the global scene and Turkey’s relations with its neighbors, saying, “These two processes affect each other. Turkey’s importance in the EU is increasing as its relations with its neighbors improve.”


José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, called for restructuring in his presentation to EU commissioners last week by saying, “Within just two years the crisis has taken away everything we accumulated in the last 20 years.” Political analyst Amanda Paul assessed the process in front of Turkey in her article on January 10: “The global financial crisis caused the collapse of many EU banks, while Turkish banks have not suffered any losses. In 10 to 15 years time, any fears that the country might be a burden to the EU budget will disappear. Turkey has the potential to improve and to direct the economy of the EU. Contrary to the concerns about millions of Turks going to the EU, Turkey may become an attractive job market for EU citizens.