Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-12-13-Speech-1-063"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the majority of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe supports the Eurlings report because, apart from a number of compromises to which I shall return later, it essentially calls on the governments to open negotiations without undue delay and makes it clear that the aim of the negotiations is the accession of Turkey as a full Member State of the European Union. Many of us would certainly have preferred a clearer and, in some way, less tortuous report. We have all too often said – and continually repeated to Turkey – that the negotiations are intrinsically open-ended and that therefore the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. Of course, we cannot say that we want permanent safeguards regarding the free movement of people, because that would be a breach of the Treaty, irrespective of the people concerned. In legal terms, it would be a breach of the Treaty, whether the Commission likes it or not. Even so, we are dealing with a compromise in which I believe we should continue to have faith. Ladies and gentlemen, let me say that the debate today is not so much about Turkey but rather about Europe. It is about finding out whether this Europe is a trustworthy partner in international relations. It is about finding out whether we still keep to our word after forty years. It is about finding out what our identity is, Mr Poettering. I believe that the identity of the European project consists in its being a political project and not a geographical project or a religious one. I also believe that our identity does not reside so much in our past and our roots – which some would claim to be completely Christian or Catholic – as in our present and, especially, our future. Our past has seen not only glories but also wars and bloodshed. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe instead that our identity is represented by the last fifty years, in which we have tried and to some extent succeeded in bringing about the rule of law, the separation of powers and the secularisation of our institutions, as well as the protection of human and political rights as an essential part of human development. That is our identity, and that is the project in which the Turkish people and government are asking to take part. I believe the stakes are these: either we choose a self-confident Europe that is able to deal with the problems and challenges that it faces – which range from difficult relations with the Islamic world to immigration and lasting differences – a Europe which is starting the negotiations not lightly or ingenuously but fully aware of their political consequences, or we choose a Europe which, perhaps out of respect for its Catholic-Christian identity, curls up into a ball and thinks it can best defend the well-being we have obtained by shutting itself off from the challenges that it faces. Ladies and gentlemen, those are the stakes. The issue is Europe, and that is what we need to debate. That, for me, is the Europe in which it is worth believing; that is the Europe for which it is worth fighting, that is the Europe which will, in some way, inspire respect in our fellow citizens and on the international stage. I do not believe that tortuous or ambiguous arguments, whatever they may be, can measure up to our present, to our future or, above all, to what we have achieved so far."@en1

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