“Now, again there are efforts to turn a new page in Turkish-EU relations,” Vokan Bozkir told Anadolu Agency, adding that he wants to leave behind unwelcome developments to usher in a better year.

In a recent poll, when Turks were asked if they want Turkey to join the EU, 78.8 percent said Yes, while when asked would the EU make Turkey a member, only 30 percent said Yes, according to Bozkir, adding that these answers reflect both hope and disappointment.

He stated that the most important ingredient for good international relations is common interests, which can make ties good or bad.

“If Turkish-EU relations aren’t completely cut today, if these relations can continue despite the problems we face, this happens through the common interests.”

One of these common interests is the large trade volume, $150 billion, between the union and Turkey, due to the Turkey-EU Customs Union, he added.

Turkey would add value to the union

Bozkir said that if it joins the EU ranks, Turkey would add value to the EU with its religion, culture, and history, as the union appears very single faith at the moment.

On EU efforts through the Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO) to form an 60,000-strong army, Bozkir instead suggested the union “make Turkey a member and we will form an army of 60,000 people in one or two months”.

He also touched on the benefits of the EU negotiation process, highlighting democratic and political reforms, smoke-free environments, safer workplaces, and other beneficial changes in Turkey promoted by the EU.

Turkey, Greece Aegean issue

Touching on the Aegean islands issue between Turkey and Greece, he suggested that talks to resolve this take place not in front of cameras, but face-to-face, behind closed doors “as much as possible”.

“We always defend our rights. But instead of solving this [issue] with remarks and causing tension, we must do it through the exploratory talks we have been pursuing for many years,” he said, adding that the topic is very sensitive.

He added that Turkey needs to take steps to strengthen Turkish-Greek ties in the coming period.

Bozkir also stressed that they would not let anything harm Turkey’s rights arising out of agreements.

Political ties could be improved “by bringing the Turkish and Greek people — which are actually close friends — together,” he added.

Anadolu Agency