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'Turkey and the EU need each other': Bildt

'Turkey and the EU need each other': Bildt

Published: 16 Feb 2011 10:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Feb 2011 10:55 GMT+01:00

Granting membership to Turkey would strengthen the European Union (EU), Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt argued in his annual foreign policy statement to the Riksdag on Wednesday.

Bildt also wants to see Iceland become a full EU member and to have Sweden join the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The government hopes for a decision regarding Iceland's EU membership within the next few years, but also wants to see Turkey move closer to joining the EU as well.

"Turkish EU membership, once all the conditions are met, would strengthen both Turkey and the European Union," said Bildt.

Meanwhile, Bildt explained that Sweden's foreign development aid policies would centre on fighting poverty through fostering a sustainable and fair development of human rights, democracy, and a strong civil society.

Swedish foreign aid will reach 35 billion kronor ($5.43 billion) in 2011, the equivalent of 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), making Sweden one of the few countries which fulfills the UN's foreign aid targets.

Special measures targeting women and children and youth will also be undertaken to reach the UN's Millennium Development Goals for reducing child and maternal mortality.

A cornerstone of Swedish foreign policy is upholding international law and respect for human rights, Bildt underlined, declaring that Sweden is putting itself forward as a candidate to sit on the UN's Human Rights Council from 2012-2015.

"Membership would offer us an important arena in which to pursue pressing human rights issues globally and contribute constructively to necessary reforms to the work of the Council," said Bildt.

The foreign minister also hopes that a dialogue between Egypt and the EU will be launched soon to discuss what sort of help and support the Europe can provide.

"Sweden is taking a proactive role in efforts to strengthen the European Union’s capacity to contribute to civilian and military crisis management," said Bildt.

"One concrete example of our commitment is that we are currently leading the Nordic Battle Group, which is on standby for the EU. By better coordinating the Member States’ resources – our hardware – we can strengthen the EU’s overall global capacity, and together with Germany we have taken an initiative to increase the Member States’ overall crisis management capacity."

Bildt also criticised recent developments in Belarus, which he cited as an example to support the argument that democratic developments are heading in the wrong direction in a number of countries.

"One obvious example of this is Belarus, where the brutal attacks during the presidential election were a serious setback to efforts towards freedom, democracy and human rights in Europe," he said, adding that the countries east of the European Union and in the southern Caucasus must be brought closer to the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

And Russia must also take responsibility for developments in its neighbourhood, argued Bildt.

"Russia must contribute to solutions to the remaining conflicts in our common region. The country’s institutions must be modernised for Russia to operate under the rule of law with full respect for human rights and democracy," he said.

Bildt also touched on Sweden's engagement in Afghanistan.

"Sweden’s commitment in Afghanistan is strong and long-term. The broad political consensus on our presence in Afghanistan lays a solid foundation for our initiatives to contribute to peace, security and development, and to help the Afghan people build up their country," he said.

He also criticised China for "continued persecution of dissidents, executions and restrictions on freedom of expression on the internet".

In conjunction with Bildt's presentation, the Social Democrats criticised the government's foreign policy as too silent and passive, arguing its reaction to the protests in Egypt has been regrettable.

Writing in an opinion piece published in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, Social Democratic foreign policy spokesperson Urban Ahlin said his party would take Swedish foreign policy in a new direction it its shadow foreign policy statement.

Among other things, the Social Democrats want to recognise Palestine and increase pressure on Burma, as well as support democratic developments in North Africa.

"Now is the time to build democracy and ensure that Tunisia and Egypt become states governed by the rule of law. The people of North Africa have listened to the rhetoric long enough," said Ahlin.

He criticised Bildt's foreign policy statement for simply discussing what is happening in the world, but saying little about what the government wants to do.

Ahlin claimed also that the government and foreign minister didn't do enough to support the Egyptian people who rose up in protest against president Hosni Mubarak.

He compared events in Egypt to the democratic revolutions that broke out in the Baltic states twenty years ago and wondered why the EU and thus Sweden and Bildt, anxiously followed behind US reactions to what happened in Egypt.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:26 February 16, 2011 by Nemesis
So 'Turkey and the EU need each other' according to Bildt.

What exactly do we in the European Union need Turkey for?

I am completely 100% in support of getting all European countries into the EU and the Euro.

I want to see the Euro heavily reformed, reinforced and strengthened.

I do personally believe that the sooner Iceland, Serbia, Switzerland, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Ukraine, Belarus and Norway are in the EU and Euro, the better. Then we can start to solidify European borders from a position of strength without gaps.

The Balkan countries are making massive strides in the areas of human rights and reforming their economies into modern countries. There has been serious problems, with quite a few hurdles to clear, but the movement forward is quite good and determined. Albania has even brought in gay and transsexual rights, that are more advanced than some western European countries.

But if Turkey came into the EU, what would we be letting in?

Everyone talks about them being Muslim. To me that is not the problem. I believe Albania and Kosovo will eventually come into the EU. Kosovo and Montenegro are already using the Euro anyway.

Until ten years ago, Turkey was making real progress towards joining the EU. Now it is going backwards, attacking minorities and reducing rights of minorities.

Turkey is going backwards and to be blunt about it, Turkey needs another military coup to remove all the religious lunatics, anti-science people and anti-progress people in Turkey, otherwise it will by default go back to being the sick man of Europe as it once was and stay the sick old man until it dies.

Turkey is being left very far behind by the progress of Albania and Kosovo, which is showing the problem is not actually being muslim, but lack of determination to converge with European law, freedoms and norms.
12:40 February 16, 2011 by truthworthy
@Nemesis

what you just said about Turkey is far from the truth. Turkey has never been better than the way it is today, it is more richer and more open. Actually I dont think Turkey needs Europe infact it is the opposite.

Carlt Bildt is trying to position Sweden as a strong nation that has relevance in global politics but that maybe only true if they stay neutral and stay out of wars such as that of Afghanistan. it has deminished Sweden's image.
12:40 February 16, 2011 by flintis
Does Bildt have family or some business concerns in Turkey?

Cannot for the life of me see how Turkey joining the EU would be a benefit, especially in respect of constructive reforms to Human Rights.

Can't be too hard on him, he (Bildt) is after all a politician & as with ALL politicians not in touch with the REAL World.
12:52 February 16, 2011 by Buckshot
They can add watever countries they like, but first after Sweden has left the EU.

We don´t need Bruxelles "centralstyrning"like some dictatorship.
13:57 February 16, 2011 by Syftfel
Once again I disgaree with Bildt, who at one time I had the greatest respect for. Turket may think it "needs" EU butEU needs Tureky like it needs a hole in the head. I can already envision hordes, families of 12, streaming in from Asia Minor ending up on the welfare rolls in Northern Europe, demanding ever more entitlements, as if we didn't have enough of that phenomenon taking place already. For does anyone belive they will stay in Greece or Bulgaria???? No, any relationship with Turkey must stay at Trade only, NOT freedom of movement for people. Could anyone please explain this to Bildt since, obviously, he is getting senile.
14:32 February 16, 2011 by Debaraja
A country of 73 722 988 inhabitants, lousy economy, where the Generals act according to how they see things, with unsolved problems with its neighbours - to mention only some of Turkey's issues - should join EU. Sounds logical, doesn't it?

Turkey's unemployed ~10,3%. Population 73 722 988. This will surely benefit EU.

Problems with Cyprus. Problems with Greece. Problems with Kurdistan. Problems with Israel. These will definitely strengthen EU.

Drugs will find open frontiers to travel more relaxed into the European market to its benefit and strengthening.

One more human trafficking frontier will open, which will strengthen EU's illegal migration problem.

Does EU stand for European Union or have I missed something?

EU will probably become something like the Eurovision contest, where all European countries - like Israel and Turkey - may participate.

US bloody A's mouthpiece has spoken again...
17:08 February 16, 2011 by johnny1939
Down w/ the EU as far as Sweden is concerned. I would like to see northern europe get together for an alliance or maybe just the Scandinavian countries. we do not need Turkey and the Balkans.

I do not care for Bildt who I consider a supercilious and arrogant dodo. I would like to see the back of him very soon
18:27 February 16, 2011 by sfk
Hi!!!

I am Turkish...

We, in Turkey, believe we do not need to join in a union which is mainly managed by either Germany or France...

In Turkey we also think that why we will pay the bill of the sinking countries! Please be happy with your current members...

Instate of inviting Turkey to join in EU, some of EU countries such as Sweden should leave the EU... That will be better option for the countries long term sustainability...
18:59 February 16, 2011 by Rey Stockholm
I hope the turkish people send s letter to Bildt to show they do not want to join the EU

Why does Turkey not create a union with its neighbours where it shares cultural ties ? make no mistake it only wants to join the EU for the money

Bildt would be better asking Norway to join the EU !
20:13 February 16, 2011 by Arturio
I dont need kebab i prefer pizza.
20:26 February 16, 2011 by selin
we dont need pizza we have lahmacun.
21:26 February 16, 2011 by Great Scott
Who is this little man Bildt, nothing. Some one tell him to go back into his little house and stay away from European affairs.
21:46 February 16, 2011 by Orangemen
Bildt the gloabalist is intent on destroying Sweden from within. He wants to eradicate Swedish borders and continue to usurp elected officials in Sweden by delegating power to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. This champagne socialist is a Green Party member in disguise.
21:57 February 16, 2011 by hammad674
I dont think turkey needs EU ... Nor EU need turkey !

First of all it is just a political statement because even turkey matches the economy of norway, they will never be offer to join EU. Because the biggest concern for EU is, it is a Muslim country.

Secondly, Even if they are being offered (1% chance) they should not accept it. It is better to be self dependant rather than taking dictation from germany and france and i think turkey is self sufficient and it is better for them.
22:51 February 16, 2011 by DAVID T
The bigger the population the bigger the vote you have in the EU. 73 722 988 inhabitants means they would have one of the biggest votes in the union. Nice one - we will be ruled by a muslim state
23:24 February 16, 2011 by fdm
If you ask Turkish people if they want to be a member of EU, I'm sure you'll get 2 answers, "I'm not sure" and "No". And yes will be minority. Most of the people has already been sick and tired of EU's double standard.

Those of you who compare Turkey with some Balkan countries, either you don't know how to read and make simple calculations/comparisons or you're living in 80s.

And those of you who want to see Belarus as a member, it's enough to say that you're talking about a country that is governed by the last dictator of Europe.

Turkey is better be rejected by EU and left out.

And by the way 10 maybe 20 years ago Turkey needed EU financial support but now it seems EU needs some support.
23:29 February 16, 2011 by Ravioli
I think everyone knows that the EU needs Turkey much as it needs an outbreak of the Ebola virus. It's obvious that Turks will come flooding into Western Europe with reckless abandon. After Merkel, Sarkozy and Cameron have comeout and admitted that multiculturalism is an outright failure, why would they support Turkey in the EU? Also, it's quite strange that Bildt would say (according to Wikileaks) that Muslims have way too many problems integrating into Western society...and then come out in support of Turkey joining the EU when he knows exactly what will happen. This is all quite strange.
00:27 February 17, 2011 by koolwind
I think there is only one way when all EU members will accept Turkey as a member of EU, is total conversion into Christianity.

EU has double standard. Turkey is progressing in much more speed than ever and economies of most EU members is on stake. and i see many products here in sweden exported from Turkey. so it means you need Turkey instead of Turkey needs you.

Take your EU membership in your Ass.
02:28 February 17, 2011 by Ravioli
Did it ever occur to you that Turkish imports are here Sweden because there is such a large Turkish population here??
03:33 February 17, 2011 by hammad674
EU is jealous of Turkish Economy and want it to sink with EU.
09:23 February 17, 2011 by w_t_f
MemphisSwede is a member of sverigedemokraterna.....that s cool
10:26 February 17, 2011 by sfk
@ MemphisSwede

What a great complex over Turkish/ Turks/ even on Muslim you have...

If you send your telephone I can call you and show I am in Turkey...

Furthermore, take it easy my friend this ethics issues and religion, we will die anyway and you and I might share a lot of things in heaven or hell...

Finally, Bildt tries to save Sweden from the table of EU who is ruled the Greedy Germany and France... That would be better for Sweden if the ruling power will be shared by many countries...

All swedish knows that it was a mistake to be part of EU and you are financing the others...
10:57 February 17, 2011 by koolwind
The discrimination and division among the different ethenic groups in muslims countries is the western policy "DIVIDE AND RULE". you are dividing and funding the opposite parties. you see pro western Egyptian and Tunisian Presidents never listened to the voice of there people because they were backed by US and EU. you dont have oil.it is all in the Arab world. so your policy is now have a downfall in Middle east. you can see the results in next few years. when you will beg.
12:18 February 17, 2011 by wenddiver
Better they all move to the EU than New York City, if France is crazy enough to shove Turkey down the throat of Eurpoe and Europe crazy enough to take them more power to them.
17:24 February 17, 2011 by throwaway
Oh shut up already with EU. That and the attitude of euros "oh la la they all want to come here, oh dear". Seriously, it's not even funny.

In a world where west is increasingly becoming irrelevant why would we willingly share the legacy of World War starters ?

This just in: Turks do not want to join the EU. And no, even if we become members of EU, I'll prefer to stay in lovely Istanbul and swim in the mediterranean, thank you very much.
19:44 February 17, 2011 by hammad674
Long live Turkey ... Greeting from Pakistan.
07:34 February 18, 2011 by technoviking
@ throwaway

Great! Stay exactly where you are! We don't need any more of you.

Glad we can agree on something.

Perfect name by the way...
11:27 February 18, 2011 by philster61
Why should Sweden leave the EU? Should that be, then Swedes no longer will enjoy free movement within Europe. No longer have rights of European Citizens. The problem isn't foreigners coming to Sweden, Its Muslims coming to Sweden. Like mixing oil and water. As long as Turkey is Islamic, they should stay out of the EU.
13:35 February 18, 2011 by otwa
why should Turkey need EU. if you have been in Turkey and compare Turkey and Sweden, there is nothing good in Sweden, only educated people ratio and beautiful girls of Sweden are better than Turkey. In other areas such as , quality of healthcare, transportation, accommodation, service quality, job opportunities, suicide rate, friendly people, climate, life cost, fair of taxes, more alternatives in everything..

enjoy with dictatorship of Germany and France..
14:52 February 18, 2011 by sfk
@ philster61

be mindful!!!

what do swedish do in other peoples' country...

Why do you travel!!!
10:01 February 19, 2011 by Rebel
But does the EU need Sweden?
10:43 February 19, 2011 by Ravioli
The EU will need Sweden to blindly let in all of the Muslim Turks who, although they all give their middle finger to Sweden on this thread, will definitely come FLOODING into Europe if they are let in to the EU.
18:02 February 20, 2011 by throwaway
@technoviking

If you have nothing to add to the discussion please spare us your mumblings. Obvious troll is obvious.
13:12 March 5, 2011 by NicholasEco
I am going to say just one thing about Turkey, human rights have been violated in Cyprus since 1974 when they invaded the island and took half of it by force.

I truly wish they don't get into the EU because I have seen how their society looks like. If they do enter EU, the EU countries will end up paying huge amounts in order to help their economy to reach the same levels as the rest of the EU countries.

This is my personal opinion on the subject, and I know that I sound biased but you would have had the same opinion as me if your country had the same fate as Cyprus did.
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