Geoffrey Van Orden, on behalf of the ECR Group.
– Madam President, I recognise that there are differing views on Turkish accession both between and within the political groups in this Parliament, my own included. My personal view has always been very supportive of Turkish aspirations towards Europe. Of course there are concerns, but I would say that, given the turbulence we are now seeing in North Africa and the Middle East and against the background of a continuing threat from Islamist terrorism, never has it been more important for us to send a positive signal to Turkey that she is welcome in the club of the European democracies.
I would ask our Greek Cypriot and Greek friends in particular to give up their unilateral approach to the Cyprus problem, to be more even-handed, and to reach a comprehensive settlement with the Turks before it is too late. We criticise Turkey over the Additional Protocol – we have heard the same again this afternoon from the Presidency-in-Office – yet no mention is made of the failure to implement the EU Council decision of 26 April 2004.
Turkey is a key member of the Atlantic alliance, a democracy with a pivotal role at the interface between West and East, and a country that is changing fast with a growth rate that puts her among global leaders. Let us get moving! Let us not lose Turkey at this stage!