TRT World Forum discusses EU's role on global stage

ISTANBUL (AA) – A panel discussion as part of the TRT World Forum in Istanbul on Wednesday focused on the European Union and its role on the global stage.

Moderated by TRT World presenter David Foster, the second session of the TRT World Forum — which Anadolu Agency is the global communications partner for — was titled “The EU and Its Discontents: Is it the End of the European Project?”

Speaking at the session, Stefan Fule, a former European commissioner for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, said that solidarity and engagement are among the issues should be addressed within the bloc’s member states.

“Will the EU be an exclusive club? Or will it be an inclusive club with rules, conditions that are attractive for others?” he asked.

For his part, former Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said that the bloc should have a proper decision-making process to keep Europe on the global stage.

“It is not productive to have an exclusive approach,” Josipovic added.

Asked about what he would like to change about the EU, Josipovic said: “More Europe, as an approach, will be a good project for the future.”

“Less Europe doesn't look good for the future. I would also work towards building European identity.”

-'Turkey still wants to join the EU'

Speaking on Turkey’s EU membership bid, Volkan Bozkir, Turkey’s former EU affairs minister and current head of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “We have shown our patience in Turkey’s relationship with the EU, our first application to join the European Union was 60 years ago.”

“We still want to become a member and still want a continuation of the process,” he added.

Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community (a precursor to the EU) in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997, and accession talks began in 2005.

On the refugee crisis, Bozkir also said that “only one-third of the promised funds from the EU have been received by Turkey,” referring to a March 2016 agreement meant to stem the refugee crisis which included an EU pledge of €3 billion ($3.46 billion) for the care of refugees in Turkey.

Turkey has long complained of the EU dragging its feet on providing funds, even while Ankara has kept its promises.

“But the problem is not money, it is solidarity,” he added.

Former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that European Union should move forward with more common policies, “otherwise we will have an incomplete project.”

“My country used to be the most pro-European country and suddenly felt left alone with the migration crisis and German-led austerity measures. These issues are what led people to vote for a right-wing government,” he added.