It is necessary to remind the politicians based in Brussels and Berlin once again how interdependent the future of Europe and the fate of Turkey are
For a while now, counterterrorism has turned into a black hole creating tensions between Turkey and its Western allies. The allying capitals, which used to criticize Ankara for condoning Daesh, is now leaving Turkey alone in the fight against the outlawed PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Despite listing the PKK as a terrorist group, the U.S. and some prominent European countries have provided weapon aid to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG), which constitutes one of Turkey's primary concerns. On top of that, anti-Turkey diaspora groups of FETÖ have been ensconced in some Western capitals.
Washington, however, has been taking some new steps with regard to comprehending Turkey's concerns. For instance, it has been disposed to adopt a more moderate approach with regard to FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen's extradition following Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ's visit. Also, a new agreement has been made on the matter of purging YPG forces from Manbij. In contrast to that, the tension in the EU-Turkey relations is climbing.
For example, after German Justice Minister Heiko Maas stated that they would not extradite the fugitive FETÖ-affiliated prosecutors, Chancellor Angela Merkel also harshened her attitude toward Turkey. With regard to the recent operation launched on the Cumhuriyet daily, Merkel said they are concerned about the operation's compatibility with the superiority of law and added that press freedom plays a leading role in EU negotiations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also harshly responded to this criticism: "We are as a matter of fact concerned about the situation in Germany. You are inviting terrorism. The terrorism threat will return and hit you like a boomerang. We do not expect anything from you, but you will be remembered throughout history as the ones inviting terrorism. We are concerned that Germany will turn into the backyard of FETÖ."
The EU, which is unable to understand how gravely the July 15 coup attempt threatened our country, could not perform the requirements of the negotiation process in the context of counterterrorism. They even seem to forget the harsh stance they adopted against the Daesh threat when three dangerous terrorist groups, namely the PKK, Daesh and FETÖ, simultaneously threaten Turkey, a democratic country. While mutual concerns are growing, the tension has been escalating to an alarming level. Even though the negotiation process is blocked, the joint interests of the EU and Turkey necessitate downscaling the level of tension.
Some of these interests include major subject matters such as the level of economic integration, the fate of refugees, the interdependency of safety issues and the reflections of the U.S.-Russia tension in Europe.
Providing safety in Europe and consequently avoiding the erosion of democracy across Europe through radical right-wing movements are strictly dependent on Turkey's stability. The July 15 insurrection is the most significant evidence demonstrating that this does not solely comprise of a blackmailing activity aiming to subjugate Erdoğan to Europe.
Had the coup attempt succeeded, Europe, which could not even cope with 3 million Syrian refugees, could not have managed the problems that would have emerged with the chaos breaking out in Turkey, which has a population of 80 million.
It will not be a surprise if the discussions of "aiding terrorism" and "decline of press freedoms" are immediately linked to the subjects of "visa exemption" and "readmission of refugees." Using the journalists as an excuse, EU circles are talking about suspending the issue by the end of 2018.
Ankara, meanwhile, is likely to annul the agreement of readmission of refugees before the end of the year unless visa exemption is granted. For this very reason, the refugee issue tends to get off the rails as a problem that might turn the dreams and expectations of European politicians into a nightmare.
Germany has a critical role in stopping this problematic course of events. Unfortunately, the Merkel government failed to implements its plans on the refugee issue. And now, they are facing Turkey's opposition on the FETÖ issue.
In brief, I guess it is necessary to remind the politicians based in Brussels and Berlin once again how interdependent the future of Europe and the fate of Turkey are.
About the author
Burhanettin Duran is General Coordinator of SETA Foundation and a professor at Social Sciences University of Ankara. He is also a member of Turkish Presidency Security and Foreign Policies Council.