Belgian minister calls for closer EU-Arab links
5 August 2004, BRUSSELS - The EU should forge closer ties to North Africa and grant Turkey full membership, says new Belgian Europe Minister, Didier Donfut.
5 August 2004
BRUSSELS - The EU should forge closer ties to North Africa and grant Turkey full membership, says new Belgian Europe Minister, Didier Donfut.
In an interview with La Libre Belgique on Thursday, Donfut said excluding of Turkey from the EU club would be a mistake.
"To be without Turkey, which has its place on the international scene, plays an economic role, and bridges two global cultures, would be committing a serious strategic error," he told the newspaper.
Equally, Europe should focus more attention on Maghreb countries, in particular Morocco.
He said the EU should encourage the development of the nascent African Union of states, with Morocco as a key member.
But he hinted that if that did not work, Moroccan membership of the EU could one day possibly be considered.
"I hope that the African Union can build itself up according to the rules of development, well-being, education and culture. If it can draw in the Maghreb in this context then I would welcome this. If
nothing is achieved then the EU will continue to advance," he said.
The new Europe minister has pledged to meet regularly with his counterparts from other countries to discuss different dossiers.
Despite having little experience in European affairs, he expects to tackle issues relating to environment, energy, and public markets, where his relevant experience will help.
Turning to the ratification of the newly agreed EU constitution, he admitted that its complexity had turned people off.
"We have to lead a campaign that will show Europe's concrete achievements," he said, adding that people had to be made more aware of the influence of European policies on their daily lives.
Donfut has risen through the ranks from relative obscurity as a local mayor, to Wallonian parliamentarian, to the head of the Socialist list at the regional elections in Mons.
His new position as Secretary of State for Europe will allow the Socialists a foothold on the international scene, where the posts have been held predominantly by the Liberals since 1999.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news