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Article by H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu published in Irish Times Newspaper (Ireland) on 9 March 2010

                                 Time for Irish friends to voice support for Turkey 

Turkish membership of the EU will expand the Union’s influence and diplomacy, writes AHMET DAVUTOGLU.

I AM visiting Ireland today, just days before President McAleese makes a historic visit to my country, Turkey. It will be the first time that an Irish president officiates at a state visit. The visit is significant because it is time for a reinvigorated relationship between Turkey and Ireland, a relationship in which many opportunities reside.Our nations are two friends situated at the opposite corners of Europe, and our peoples have always had a high regard for one another. We are gratified that our Irish friends graciously remember the hand extended from Turkey in 1847 during the Famine. At Gallipoli, the Turks and the Irish came to recognise each other as valiant fighters. The Dáil, for its part, recognised early on the righteousness of the Turkish national struggle, which led to the proclamation of the Turkish republic in 1923.In a more general sense, at a time when the world is seeing the emergence of new players and as new trends shape the global economy, Ireland, like the rest of Europe, will benefit from Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkey opens Europe to the larger areas of the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and further, to Central Asia. Turkey also opens these regions to the European system of norms and values.In this globalised world, such links have become more relevant. Ireland’s special relations with the US are a case in point. EU members will also benefit from Turkey’s special relations stretching over a vast area. Furthermore, the manifold advantages of one of the biggest markets in Europe, which is enjoying ever rising levels of discretionary income, would be brought to the fore.The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Turkey will be among the top five performers in terms of economic growth over the breadth of this decade. This trend is already well-sustained: Turkey is a member of the G-20, since it is the 16th largest economy in the world. With its vibrant potential, Turkey will certainly bring its contribution to the economy of Europe.The bigger picture supports the value of pursuing the full integration of Turkey into the EU. This should be seen for what it is: a historic opportunity for Europe, rather than anything else. Turks regard themselves as part of Europe, and rightly so, not only because Istanbul is a vibrant and creative European metropolis, but also in view of the fact that many defining moments which shaped their identity took place in Europe. Since the 14th century, and even before, the bulk of our history has been wrought in this continent.Large numbers of Irish and Turks have for long migrated abroad. While the Irish left predominantly for the US, the Turks left for several European countries. Both cherished their roots and tried to preserve their identities. With dignity, they carried forward what they achieved for future generations. Their contributions to their respective new worlds now abound.Rather than decreasing the scope of the existing and time-honoured influences that have existed within the EU since its foundation, Turkey’s membership will expand their reach, and augment and bring new qualities to Europe’s soft power. Some try to distort this picture by claiming Turkey will bring Europe closer to conflict-ridden regions.It is difficult to see how Turkey can be presented as a security risk when as recently as 2008 it was elected to the UN Security Council by a record 153 votes. Turkey’s liberalising and democratising policies over recent years have turned the country into a beacon of hope for millions of people in the region who wish to emulate the Turkish experience and embrace modernity.Ensuring stability, like good parenting, requires constant involvement and attention, and this is what Turkey has been doing, with increasing effect. At the end of the day, the Turkish impact is a European impact.Also, there is nothing to show that Turkish membership will adversely affect the efficiency of the EU decision-making and deepening process. The result in this regard may well be positive, as Turkey sees its future within a strong and influential Europe. Its strengths would appeal to that ideal.On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the relationship between Turkey and the EU is a contractual one. No one should expect us to relinquish this body of legality. We cannot allow the relationship to founder on account of erratic policies. The EU has an obligation to negotiate in good faith with Turkey. If the fundamental principle of pacta sunt servanda goes unrecognised, Europe will lose its credibility and reliability.We do not regard all of this as merely bringing to fruition a legacy that we regard as our birthright. We want to become part of a system that is an integral whole, where the rule of law reigns supreme, and where democracy is ever-improved and brought nearer to the level of the individual. This larger conceptualisation of Europe, and the place of Turkey therein, is the driving force of the Turkish approach to Europe.The important relationship between Turkey and the EU deserves to be discussed in the tradition of great European debates – on its own merits. Right now, this is not happening. We need help from our friends. The voice of Ireland is important. After all, you have the power of words on your side. This is the peculiar strength of the Irish. We want to witness this unique power on our side. We hope to see stronger support emanating from the land of the great novelists and poets.