Zaman: The road to the EU goes through the Balkans (10 March 2006)
"Geographically and historically Turkey is a Balkan country. Approximately 5 million Turks and Balkan Muslims migrated to Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In 1989, 2 million people who were trying to escape from the Bulgarian Communist Regime chose Turkey as a haven. 15 percent of our country's population are of Balkan origin. There are more people of Albanian origin in Turkey than there are in Kosovo. There are more Turkish citizens of Bosnian origin than Bosnians in Bosnia. Moreover, during the wars in Yugoslavia thousands of students came to Turkey from the Balkans to study.
ESI emphasizes that on the path of integration with the EU, Turkey should develop stronger relations with the Balkan countries. They say: You have cultural and ethnic heritage from your ancestors in the Balkans and countries in this region may be the ones that could best understand you in Europe - and that you could understand the most too."