Department of International Relations Hosts Portuguese EU Secretary of State

On Thursday, December 4 the Department of International Relations was honoured to host Prof. Dr. Bruno Maçães, State Secretary for European Affairs in the Portuguese government. Dr. Maçães delivered a speech entitled “Turkey and the EU: Challenges and Prospects”. Dr. Maçães was introduced by the Acting Chair, Assoc. Prof. Dimitris Tsarouhas.
Among the capacity crowd at the C-Block Amphitheatre of the Faculty Building were the Ambassador of Portugal, the Ambassador of Finland, the Ambassador of Spain, representatives of the UK and the Irish Embassies, our Dean Prof. Önkal, numerous Professors from IR and other Departments as well as many students and general public.

Dr. Maçães by mentioning the historical transformation of the European Union, which started as a project to reconcile France and Germany after the WW2. Further he stated that the main geopolitical and cultural challenge of our time is to reconcile East and the West. An inward looking, reactive and defensive EU would have little prospect of future success; instead the EU should be more open to the world and should be truly cosmopolitan. In this sense, the EU needs Turkey as a member because Turkey had made great progress in enhancing economic welfare for its citizens, has a relatively young population offering resources, and, more impotantly, communicating with Turkey opens a way for the EU to communicate with emerging economies such as India and China, alongside the Middle east. Hence, in the EU’s goal of being a global economic and political actor, Turkey constitutes a critical element.

In reference to recent EU developments, Dr. Maçães stated that the new leadership political change within the EU and in Turkey. Maçães stated that the new leadership in the EU marks the start of a new institutional and political cycle in Europe along with a new foreign policy, a new neighbourhood policy, and a new enlargement policy. Similarly, the EU strategy to be, reciprocated by the EU and Turkey should be a part of this new institutional cycle.

Lastly, Dr. Maçães indicated despite the challenges that have to be tackled, Turkey’s accession to European Union is a two-way street where both parties benefit and learn from each other.

The speech was followed by an active question and answer session, in which questions such as the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s place in the EU’s narrative, EU cosmopolitanism, the EU’s migration policy, and the EU approach to the Ukraine conflict were debated.

By the end of his speech, as a professor of politics and a practitioner of politics, Mr. Maçães gave two principal tips to IR students. The first one is to ‘never aim for perfection’ because the field of politics is never perfect but can be made better, and the second one is to ‘keep a cool head’ when it comes to proceeding with attempts to solve the intricate and complex problems of the modern world.

Following the talk, the Department was pleased to host Dr. Maçães and the Portuguese Delegation for lunch in the presence of our vice-Rector, Prof. Hitay Özbay. The Department thanks the Turkish Ministry of EU Affairs and the Embassy of Portugal for our excellent cooperation in bringing about this event.