There is an escalating conflict between Turkey and Germany: the last episode started with Angela Merkel becoming chancellor. As she is almost untouchable now, as far as her political performance and reputation today places her way above any other European leader, it is difficult to criticize her policy toward Turkey and the latter's EU membership perspective.
Chancellor Merkel is the leader of Germany's very conservative and somehow able CDU/CSU party. She is a Protestant by birth, her father being a Protestant pastor in the former German Democratic Republic. She was raised as a good Soviet-style communist militant and climbed swiftly through the steps of Germany's large Catholic conservative party CDU to become its leader by by-passing a very important political figure, Wolfgang Schauble, the Kronprinz of the CDU under Helmut Kohl. This very succinct summary of her career is eloquent enough to show that under her "Muttie" image, there lies a very capable and gifted politician.
Like a good Christian-Democrat leader, she never believed that Turkey should ever become a member of the EU someday somehow. Helmut Kohl was very much obsessed by the idea of seeing minarets when he opened his window at home. He did not want to have 7 million Turks in Germany, to double the number of German-Turks already settled. He probably never thought that he would someday welcome as a bride to his son a Turkish person, but this is another story. Almost nobody in the CDU/CSU wants Turkey to become a member of the EU. Similarly, nobody in the same party wants to severe ties with Turkey. I remember a very important meeting held in 1995, attended by almost the totality of the members of CDU/CSU who were elected to the European Parliament. The "Bosphorus Meeting" as it was called, was organized to support Turkey's completion of the Customs Union. I think 42 MEPs were present out of 44 members of the CDU/CSU at the parliament. This only shows that this large, dominant Conservative political movement in Germany does not wish to cut ties with Turkey.
Nonetheless, today's situation is totally reversed. Angela Merkel is heading a coalition government, a "Grand Coalition" with the second biggest political movement in Germany, the very old and very traditional SPD. She has to deal with dexterity, so far as Sigmar Gabriel, presently the most prominent leader of the SPD, has clearly declared that he is bluntly against the stopping of accession negotiations with Turkey. He said openly "It does not improve things by canceling something before we have something new to offer," by referring to the "privileged partnership" perspective dear to CDU/CSU.
I have had the occasion, in many of my columns, to deeply criticize the attitude of German Conservatives who think that they can offer something "non-existent" to replace accession negotiations. This is not serious, and I doubt any EU country, Germany or other, will come up with a solution to establish a "third" status in between membership of the EU and non-membership of the EU. If by some miracle, Germany comes up with such a "second division membership status," let me assure you that there will be at last half of the existing member states saying "over our dead bodies," instead of accepting such a revision of founding treaties. So, let us not waste time dreaming about what, for the time being, is unfeasible and concentrate on what we have.
What we have is unfortunately not much: Turkish authorities are holding a huge grudge due to the fact that Germany has taken the first step toward granting political asylum to high-ranking military officers linked to the coup attempt of July 15, 2016. This is hardly understandable. There are more than 100 former Turkish diplomats based in foreign countries who have also asked for political asylum because of their ties with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). I would like to underline the "terrorist" term pertaining to FETÖ because I believe that it still remains the biggest threat to the Turkish Republic and its regime. Fighting against such a network of illegal organization should not only be a task vested to Turkish authorities, but should also encompass our traditional allies, first and foremost Germany.
Both Turkey and Germany have to take a step towards each other and start to mend their divide as soon as possible. In view of international developments, in view of tragedies that happen almost daily in Europe and elsewhere, neither Turkey nor Germany have the latitude to plat a "tit-for-tat" policy to displease each other. It is high time to get serious.
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