Thursday, November 03, 2005


You know him? Well, you SHOULD know him! CEM ŐZDEMIR,
German Member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, is apparently the personification of globalization! For five good reasons :

1. He is German of Turkish descent, living in Berlin and commuting to Brussels, Belgium or Strasbourg, France.

2. He was, at 28, the first deputy of Turkish origin in German History and also one of the youngest elected members in the German Parliament.

3. He contributed greatly to formulating a modern German citizenship law and urged immigrants to take the Latin community in the USA as a model of integration.

4. He is a former Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marhsall Fund, pronounced a ‘Star of Europe’ by ‘Business Week’magazine in 2002.

5. He is a strong advocate of Turkey’s accession to the European Union, but says that it is up to Turkey to comply with all criteria for accession.

Recently I had the opportunity of meeting and interviewing Cem Őzdemir for German Radio during the European Parliament’s session in Strasbourg, France. Here comes an extract from this interview:

Q First term as a Member of the European Parliament – welcome to Strasbourg! Your impressions of parliamentary work here?

A Exciting! Strangely the Parliament has its seat in Strasbourg, but most of our work is placed in Brussels and the Parliament’s committees also meet in Brussels… I’ll soon be used to all that, that’s just the way it is and I guess there is next to nothing you can do about it. Though I’d be quite happy if we would put everything together in Brussels… Apart from that, well, our work is exciting and quite different than parliamentary work in the National Assembly.

Q Berlin or Strasbourg – are you in a dilemma?

A I did not regret having entered the European Parliament. On the contrary, I think that working with different countries, operating in different cultures and in different languages is quite exciting. At last, that’s Europe! Though Europe has its shady sides as well, I mean you are really annoyed to find that there are MEP’s on the extreme Right or on the extreme Left, who actually disavow the parliamentary system, but nevertheless are quite happy to enter the Parliament… But on the other hand you meet here several people who want to shape modern Europe, they want to work for peace, for justice, for the preservation of natural resources in our continent.

Q Turkey’s entry to the European Union is finally high on the agenda in Brussels. What’s the outlook?

A For the moment Turkey’s entry is not the point, first of all we are talking about opening formal negotiations and we all know that negotiations for entry will take some time. I’ve been elected for 5 years and I am dead certain that Turkey won’t be ready for membership for the next five years. There is still a divergence between Turkey and the European Union, for example over upholding of human rights and personally I am very sensitive to that. Nevertheless, we all agree that so far Turkey has put up a great performance, just think of the fight against torture, of the civil-military relations, of allowing Kurdish language courses… More needs to be done, but despite today’s shortcomings, the fact remains that the country is changing and will change even more. So the crucial question is: Shall we reward Turkey by saying ‘O.K., good job, go on like that’? Or shall we rather say ‘O.K. you are changing, but in spite of everything we simply don’t let you in’?


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