Does the Dutch government represent EU's view on Turkey?

Published 03.07.2018 01:35

Gert-Jan Segers, the coalition partner of the Dutch government, does not shy away from commenting on Turkey and its EU journey despite not being well-informed about the situation and process

Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian Union (CU), the coalition partner of the Dutch government, gave an interview to a Dutch newspaper and conveyed his views on Turkey. According to him, the European Union should immediately stop accession talks with Ankara. He is not the only or the most important European politician to say the same, but there is an interesting aspect in his position against Turkey's eventual accession to the EU. His main argument is about sanctioning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In other words, he believes that if the EU stops negotiating with Turkey it could harm the Turkish president.

It is not as though the majority of Turkish people still support their country's European bid. Besides, Turkish public opinion doesn't see Erdoğan as the reason why Turkey's accession talks aren't progressing, so there is no reason for Turks to be angry with him when the negotiations fail. As a matter of fact, Turks' trust of the EU is quite low these days. Anyway, Mr. Segers doesn't seem to care about what the Turks in Turkey think or believe, but he appears more concerned about Turks who live in the Netherlands.

Segers points to the fact that the majority of Turks in his country have voted in favor of Erdoğan, and he considers this fact as "false integration." He affirms that Turkish citizens who live in the Netherlands enjoy full democratic rights, yet they vote for a candidate he considers undemocratic. Besides, he complains about the fact that some people took to the streets on the election night with Turkish flags to celebrate Erdoğan's reelection.

It's worth asking him why foreigners who live in a country as free as the Netherlands prefer to vote this way. Maybe the Turks who live there don't trust the Dutch democracy that much. Maybe they think the rule of law in the Netherlands isn't sufficient to protect them from discrimination and racism. Maybe they believe that only Erdoğan is defending their rights.

Moreover, asking for the end of EU talks because Turkey is drifting away from democracy makes no sense. If the talks end, how can Turkey reach Europe's democratic standards one day? During the negotiation process, Turkey has to adopt the European acquis and improve its democracy and the rule of law, not if the process stops. Mr. Segers and other politicians from many European countries think that Turkey can never become an EU member anyway, and they use the latest election results as their main argument.

Segers is not concerned only about the EU, though. He says he doesn't feel he can defend Turkey against a military attack, even though the NATO agreement says that. Of course, there is no automatic retaliation in the NATO agreement; in other words, if the Netherlands doesn't feel concerned, no one can force it to fight for an ally. Turkey is capable of defending itself without the precious contribution of the Dutch army, anyway. He also suggests that Turkey could provoke a military counter-reaction from a non-NATO country at any time, so NATO should be careful about Turkey. He probably was thinking about Turkey's recent military operations abroad. By the way, it is good to remember that Turkey was once given a Patriot missile defense system by the Dutch, but it is also good to remember why it was removed.Those Western politicians who keep saying that Turkey has no place in Western organizations but must somehow remain attached to the West, such as through the privileged partnership proposal with regard to the EU, never explain why Turkey should accept such an intermediary position. As a matter of fact, Turkey contributes to the security of Western countries far more than the Dutch, and this isn't only about the refugee crisis.

Let's hope Mr. Segers will lend an ear to the upcoming NATO summit. He may then understand that the main threat against the West is not Turkey, but to the contrary, the latter is the main guarantee of Europe's security.

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