The vice president of the European Commission, Günther Verheugen, has underlined the reciprocal needs between Turkey and the EU, saying Turkey requires the EU and vice versa; however, the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs it.
“Turkey has immense strategic importance. I highlight the security of the entire region. The EU should consider what would happen if Turkey preferred to pursue another road other than gaining a seat among Western states. This would pose a big risk for us, and we had better not take it,” said Verheugen, adding that Turkey's EU membership will be an advantage for them and that it will help Western democracies improve relations with the Muslim world. He also warned that the strategic importance of Turkey will not result in easing EU membership conditions.
Touching on the idea of privileged membership, which has been proposed by German and French leadership, instead of full-fledged EU membership on the grounds that Turkey will not be a part of the Western world and will fail to adopt Western values, Verheugen shared Turkey's stance of rejecting such an offer, saying: “A privileged membership has already prevailed in Turkish-EU relations. It has more place than some of the others [member countries]. It is a member of the customs union. I do not know anything that Turkey does not have and that the EU will give to Turkey. All that is left for Turkey is gaining full-fledged membership.”
Verheugen, currently the vice president of the EU Commission and the European commissioner for enterprise and energy, has long been a strong supporter of Turkish membership and worked hard for its candidacy as enlargement commissioner from 1999 to 2004, reported Today's Zaman.