Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkiet 22 mars 2012
Gunilla Carlsson, Biståndsminister
Gunilla Carlssons anförande "Opportunities and challenges - Europe" vid Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkiet (eng)
(Hosted by Platform for Global Challenges)
Det talade ordet gäller.
Turkey and the EU share the same fundamental values. Principles of democracy, market economy and individual freedom are deeply integrated in our societies. We belong together. This is why Sweden is actively supporting Turkish EU membership. Support for this policy is strong - 7 out of 8 parties in the Swedish Parliament are behind it.
The case for EU-Turkey integration is stronger than ever, politically as well as economically. Let me give you Sweden's view on why that is so.
The global financial crisis, the effects of which are still very present in parts of Europe, has clearly demonstrated the need for global cooperation and solutions. The crisis has understandably turned the energy of the EU's leaders inwards. However, it is my firm belief that the true recipe for growth and stability for Europe lies in remaining open to the outside world.
The EU is the world's biggest integrated economy. The last round of enlargement, bringing roughly 100 million new EU citizens, has contributed in a major way towards energising the European economy. Turkey's membership will be even more important. Enlargement - strengthening the rule of law and common standards all over the continent - is an important part of Europe's aim for global competitiveness.
From a Swedish perspective, the dynamism and potential of the Turkish economy is obvious. Turkey is one of the fastest growing markets in both the OECD and the G20. With a well-educated, young population (with an average age of 28) and a more liberal business climate than ever before, Turkey is not only a unique investment platform and large emerging market. It is also the ideal stepping stone for many Swedish and European companies for reaching out to the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
Sweden and the Nordic Model may have valuable lessons for Turkey. Our model is partly based on a flexible labour market combined with strong social safety nets. Labour unions play an important role in encouraging flexibility and openness.
Another core aspect of the Nordic Model is women's participation in the labour market. The employment rate for women aged 15 to 64 in Sweden has risen over the years to 70 per cent, compared with 74 per cent for men. I am convinced that if Turkey were to adopt similar provisions to encourage women in the labour market, a huge potential would be unleashed.
The potential of Turkey, however, may be fully realised only within the European Union.
Europe is by far Turkey's number one trading partner, accounting for 43 per cent of its total trade, and supplying more than half of the foreign companies active in Turkey. These EU companies are vital to the technology transfer now in progress. For Turkey to complete its economic development and have competitive industries at a global level, this technology transfer needs to be boosted even more.
This is why we need to move forward towards the final goal - Turkish EU membership. Turkish enterprises will want access to the EU's internal market in areas not currently covered by the customs union, such as services. Turkish enterprises deserve a level playing field in Europe where barriers - including visa requirements - are removed.
Politically, the case for Turkey's membership is equally strong. This is evident in our efforts to support democracy and development in the southern neighbourhood. The EU is now remodeling its relationship with the countries concerned, focusing on the three "M"s: money, mobility and markets. Turkey on the other hand is already a key player in the region, not least as a forerunner of democratisation, free trade and a liberalised economy in the Islamic world.
Also, Turkey is emerging as an important donor of development assistance. Obviously we need to join forces. If Turkey combines its 'soft power' with that of the EU, and if we cooperate on the ground to support the same reform-minded people, we have greater chances of success. This is just one area in which foreign policy cooperation between the EU and Turkey needs to intensify. One could also mention Turkey's importance to the energy infrastructure of Europe, or the migration flows affecting our southern borders, where increased cooperation is urgently needed.
Turkey's internal reform process is also fundamentally tied to the EU accession process. Turkish democracy has matured over the last decade. With the guidance of the EU institutions and pre-accession assistance, a judicial reform strategy is being implemented. Even the most sensitive issues are now aired openly. Minority rights are beginning to be addressed. Constitutional reform is being prepared in an inclusive way. If this is done correctly, based on individual rights and on the European Convention on Human Rights, Turkey will take a giant leap towards fulfilling the EU's political criteria.
This is not to say that everything is perfect. Anyone reading the latest EU Progress Report can find the critical points regarding freedom of expression, the rule of law and minorities. This, however, proves the value of the EU process. EU benchmarks point out a clear direction for Turkish reform policy, and give objective feedback, which might otherwise be lacking in a very polarised political landscape.
It is deeply regrettable that these economic and political gains are held up by shortsighted policies in some corners of Europe. Blocking accession negotiations for purely bilateral reasons, unrelated to the EU acquis, cannot be accepted. It is worth emphasising that I represent the overwhelming majority of EU Member States in favour of Turkish membership. What is more, all 27 have agreed to the Negotiation Framework aiming for full membership.
My advice is therefore to continue working hard on the EU reform agenda. There is much to do. Nobody can actually prevent Turkey from reforming, whether chapters are blocked or not. The EU Delegation in Turkey is the largest in the world. It is here to assist you in your work.
I sincerely hope that the next time I come to Turkey, we on the EU side have overcome our differences and offered you a number of negotiation chapters to be opened. Meanwhile, Turkey can continue to push on with reforms and to prepare for the day when negotiations can speed up again. This includes chapters on key aspects of the internal market like procurement, competition and social policy. We also need to move forward together on the visa issue, which I know deeply affects the everyday life of Turkish citizens, not least students.
During the last year, with the developments of the Arab awakening, I am happy that we have stood together to support all these brave women, men and children who fought for dignity, freedom and a better future for all. We need each other.
Steps toward a closer relationship between the EU and Turkey are now being taken under the 'positive agenda'. As a complement to the established framework of formal membership negotiations, the positive agenda will enable us to deepen our practical cooperation in fields such as foreign policy, energy, justice/home affairs, and the customs union.
Hopefully, when more favourable political conditions prevail, formal membership negotiations can be concluded. Meanwhile, Sweden and Turkey will work as partners to ensure continued momentum in Turkey-EU integration.