ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, a vocal supporter of Turkey’s EU accession bid, was elected president of the European Parliament on Tuesday.
The moderately conservative Polish politician extended his support to Turkey’s long-standing EU bid while he announced his candidacy for the presidential post, saying the bloc should not close its door to new members, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. He replaces Germany’s Hans-Gert Pottering, who proposed to Ankara a privileged partnership instead of full membership in the EU, for the next two-and-a-half years.
The Parliament to which Buzke has been appointed is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. Together with the Council of the European Union (the Council), it forms the bicameral legislative branch of the Union’s institutions and has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world. The Parliament and Council form the highest legislative body within the Union, though their powers as such are limited to the competencies conferred upon the European Community by member states. Hence the institution has little control over policy areas held by the states and within the other two of the three pillars of the European Union.
Buzek, the European Parliament’s first president from the former eastern bloc, won 555 of the 644 valid votes cast-an outright majority in the first ballot at the inaugural session of the new 736-member EU assembly. His nearest opponent, Swedish Green Party member Eva-Britt Svenson, won only 89 votes.
Although the post is largely ceremonial, his appointment is a symbolic gesture to the new EU member states from eastern and central Europe, which often complain their views are not heard by the 27-nation union’s traditional powers.
“I consider my election to be a signal for our countries from Eastern Europe,” he said to lawmakers in Strasbourg, “most of which joined the European Union in 2004.
“There is no longer ‘you’ and ‘us.’ Now there is only one Europe shared by all.”