EU-Turkey relations should not be analysed solely from the perspective of the long-standing accession process. The intimate ties between the EU and Turkey are also the product of a multitude of diaspora networks connecting New Europeans of Turkish background to their country of origin. Their role in bringing Turkey and Europe closer is, however, insufficiently acknowledged. This is why UNITEE organised its first round-table on EU-Turkey relations through the perspective of New Europeans.
The event took place on 20th March at UNITEE’s office in Brussels and opened up the floor for a sincere and inspiring dialogue involving an impressive panel of speakers:
- Dr Adem Kumcu President of UNITEE (Moderator)
- Mr Metin Kazak MEP (ALDE), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Mr Arno Metzler Member of the European Economic and Social Committee, President of the Joint Consultative Committee and the EU-Turkey Contact Group
- Mr Willem Van de Voorde Diplomat, Deputy Head of Cabinet of the Foreign Minister of Belgium
- Sir Graham Watson MEP (ALDE), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Ms Ann-Kristin Mainka Personal Assistant of the General Secretary and Project Coordinator at BUV,Bundesverband der Unternehmervereinigungen, a member federation of UNITEE
The economic potential of New Europeans
All speakers agreed on the added-value of New Europeans to the economic prospects of Europe. “Especially their intercultural and linguistic skills are valuable assets in the global market”, stated Mr Kazak. Continuing on the same note, Mr Kumcu pointed to the example of Silicon Valley and argued that only through the celebration of diversity can the EU sustain a globally competitive economy.
New Europeans of Turkish origin as a bridge between Turkey and Europe
New Europeans of Turkish origin also make positive contributions to the relations between the two sides. Mr Van de Voorde portrayed them not only as catalysts for fostering trade relations but also as “cultural translators of the common values that unite Europe and Turkey”. However, Mr Metzler reminded the attendees that the difficulties New Europeans still face to better integrate in their host countries are harmfull to the EU -Turkey relations.
European-Turkish Cooperation on Renewable Energy
Ms Mainka had the opportunity to share what BUV’s activities in the field of renewable energy, while Sir Graham Watson argued that if Turkey started to take advantage of its tremendous solar and wind power ressoures, it could be more than just a supplier of oil and gas and become a key partner.