The Prime Minister of Turkey delivered a speech at St
John’s College on ‘Why the European Union Needs
Turkey’, last Friday. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been premier since March 2003,
arrived twenty minutes late after being held up in traffic. His
speech, which was delivered in Turkish, attracted the attention
of the international and national media. European leaders will
have to decide in December whether Turkey can begin negotiating
for entry into the EU. Erdogan, who seemed eager to present himself as a modern
European leader, stressed that Turkey “will try to make
‘European values’ Ankara’s values.” The PM
acknowledged that Turkey still had pressing economic and human
rights issues to confront. The problems surrounding the Kurdish
minority and the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus also remain
unaddressed despite EU instructions to resolve them. Erdogan’s speech was organised by the South East European
Studies Centre based at St Anthony’s College, and was
preceded by a conference on “The Continued Rapprochement
Between Greece and Turkey: Still Genuine?”ARCHIVE: 5th week TT 2004