We have been celebrating the 9th of May, the day of the adoption of the Schuman Declaration laying the foundations of the European Union, as “Europe Day" since 1999, when our candidate status to the EU was declared.
The European project brought peace, stability and increasing prosperity to our continent and demonstrated that conflicts can be resolved if countries unite around common values.
Turkey continues its efforts towards accession to the EU, which is its strategic choice in terms of its historical background and future vision. The reforms we have realized in a multitude of fields are indications of our strong commitment and will.
Turkey, with its geostrategic location, strong economy and effective foreign policy, will make significant contributions to the EU on its path to being a global actor. It was for this reason that our accession process was initiated and continued in line with decisions taken unanimously within the EU. In this context, political obstacles imposed by some members on our negotiation process must be removed and the process should be allowed to follow its own course.
On the other hand, we welcome the fact that our relations with the EU are increasingly being strengthened in various fields such as foreign policy, economy and energy. One of the most important processes initiated in recent years with the EU is the Visa Liberalization Dialogue for the benefit of our citizens. Visa exemption for our citizens will help us to advance our relations with the EU in every field including our accession process.
However, growing opposition to migration and the strengthening of xenophobia and Islamophobia within the EU erodes the Union’s capacity to impact neighboring regions and beyond. The EU must take effective measures in accordance with the principle "unity in diversity" to confront these trends. In addition, the EU, founded on the principle of respect for human rights, is expected to adopt a humanitarian attitude in face of the crises taking place in its neighboring countries. Furthermore, one of the most important expectations we would have of the European Parliament, as the EU institution where anti-immigration and xenophobic tendencies show themselves most glaringly, would be that it protect universal values.
I express my sincere wish for an ever stronger European integration process and congratulate the Turkish people and all peoples of Europe on Europe Day.