Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan underlined that his country possesses the capacity to build bridges between Europe and Islam if only Turkey becomes a member of the European Union.
"Turkey's membership will bring an end to the criticism of the "Christian Union" and the accusations of racism directed at the EU, and will thus contribute to the universal nature of the Union, to its global transformation into a global actor," prime minister said.
Erdogan made the pledge in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Mattino ahead of a visit to Naples, during which he will receive an award for fostering Mediterranean regional ties. It is thought he may then visit Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome for talks.
"Turkey's integration into the European Union is important for at least three reasons," Erdogan explained. "Firstly because in joining the EU, Turkey will strengthen its political existence and safeguard its own interests; then because in this way it will further develop its economic and trade interests, and finally because membership of the EU will consolidate the legal system in Turkey."
Erdogan believes that Turkey could be a force for stability, the AP reports.
The Turkish premier went on to say that he is convinced Turkey will make an important contribution to the economic development of Europe. "Trade is the pillar of Europe's economy, and Turkey's entry as a full member will add 65 million people with high consumerist tendencies to the European market," Erdogan said.