We are about to begin a crucial week, when Europe will be called upon to confront two issues that will have a key impact on its future.
The first: With regard to Turkey, Europe must not shy away from its historic responsibility to choose between short and far-sightedness. It is necessary to bring dynamism to the negotiation process, and not to yield to an impulsive hardline position toward the Turkish authorities’ line of action.
Europe needs a fully democratic Turkey within its borders, not outside them. This is the objective to be kept in sight; and Turkey, as the last decade in its history has shown, needs the benefits of European stimulus, now more than ever.
It is not the time to close the doors on Turkey’s European perspective but rather, if anything, the time to reinforce it, opening the chapters both on regional policies as well as on fundamental rights and justice. If we had opened those in the past, today we would have more effective leverage in our dialogue with the Turkish authorities.
If today we make the mistake of complicating Ankara’s European integration process, tomorrow we will have a Europe less credible on the international scenario.
The second: The 27 and 28 June European Council will be meeting to decide on a date for the start of EU accession negotiations with Serbia; and in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, great expectations are being cultivated for the opening of negotiations on an Association and Stabilisation Agreement.
It is my deep hope that, a few days from now, we will be fulfilled as Europeans, having made another step forward along the path to Balkan integration, without which the only – and certainly unwelcome – result would be the re-emergence of nationalistic impulses in Belgrade and Pristina. Disappointment of those expectations would trigger a negative spiral.
The moment to open negotiations is now. The peoples of Serbia and Kosovo have demonstrated their strong inclination toward a spirit of compromise, their final goal being to join the European family. Rejection or even a delayed response to their efforts could lead to the failure of the historic agreement achieved as a result of EU mediation.