After the Turkish Prime Minister's memorable visit to Brussels the revival of the accession negotiations was given a new but very delicate margin of manoeuvre
Politics in Turkey have taken a different and hellish pace since Dec. 17, 2013. Already, in May and June, the wave of social protestations that has shaken an incredible number of societies all around the world has also affected the Turkish society, traditionally much less emotional and less inclined to mass manifestations than comparable Mediterranean societies like France, Italy or Greece. Sporadic and widespread manifestations caught the government offguard and deeply surprised.
However, due to the nature of these popular opposition movements, social manifestations have not been translated into any sustainable political institution. Moreover, it has shown the inability of conventional opposition parties to understand the social evolution and to add up a sound policy-making dimension to their political activities.
A very long period of political stability, which Turkish voters largely praised at almost each election since 2004, came to an end with the open warfare between the government and a bizarre organization, the Gülen movement, which is a mixture of an Islamic Opus Dei (without the Catholic Church controlling its deeds), a financial plethora of foundations, media organisations and a worldwide web of mainly secondary education.
The self-exiled leader of the movement in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gülen, is a well-known preacher, always seen as the "bête noire" of the Turkish military. His movement has traditionally been supportive of centre-right political parties. His support for the AK Party government was recent, basically after 2007, when a large organisation to overthrow the government through the abrogation of AK Party by a decision of Constitutional Court fell short of reaching its target.
Since the open crisis last December, which was becoming more and more visible for the last 18 months, the primary objective of the government has been to eradicate the "parallel organization" of Gülenists among the state apparatus, mainly within the police forces and the judiciary. In doing so, the government and the prime minister have chosen the path of striking heavily and very rapidly, by changing a number of laws pertaining to the organization and nominations within the judicial apparatus.
The Gülen movement, in pure Cold War style, has been inundating the Internet with recordings of personal conversations, at times involving the prime minister. This is an indication that the organization is quite far from being a simple "voluntary" solidarity movement and largely uses the forgotten methods of the defunct KGB.
The Government has a very narrow and dangerously delicate margin of manoeuvre in reforming the legislation in this realm. The "de facto" suspended negotiations with the EU have resumed for the last six months and the prime minister has given his personal caution for the harmonization efforts to be continued by Turkey, during his memorable visit to Brussels in January.
Already, Andrew Duff, not missing a single opportunity to denounce EU-Turkey relations, has asked for a suspension of the accession talks. If there is a really bad timing to freeze institutional relations between Turkey and the EU, it is now, especially after the total failure of Geneva II talks on Syria and the explosive turmoil still going on in Ukraine. But the government should also pay increased attention to the EU sensibilities and opt for a conciliatory tone during this very tough period, because it can hardly afford to lose the EU compass at such a crucial moment for the Turkish democracy.