Taking the EU seriously

Published 24.01.2015 02:16

It is not possible to exclude the role of the EU in the positive changes that Turkey has enjoyed over the last decade. As the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) authorities keep highlighting on every occasion, the EU criteria function has significant leverage in the dynamics of reform and transformation. In those years, it was a common belief that those reforms would align Turkey with the EU and enable its accession. However, after a while, the EU became the subject of conflicts and bargains between the isolated policies of different countries.

During the same process there has been a visible decline in the quality of politicians in Europe. In Turkey, non-acceptance of the AK Party government turned the political tension into an explicit fight. Therefore, while the EU's intention to include Turkey as a full member was in decline, the AK Party government continued to implement the reforms. EU authorities were eager to use the situation as grounds for rejecting Turkey's membership and tried to camouflage their own unwillingness. Although the judicial system is the primary thing they complain about, they have refused to open the chapter on justice.

At the point we have reached so far, the picture is clear: The EU sees that accepting Turkey into the EU is becoming a more rational option day by day, but it does not want to accept Turkey probably because of Europe's inability to resolve its own integration problems. Consequently, Europe needs a reason to say and demonstrate why Turkey does not deserve membership. The AK Party government provides a suitable identity and image to that idea since it is both "Islamic" and "authoritarian," which means it does not conform to European norms either culturally or politically. When they add the myth that the AK Party supports Islamic terror, the feeling is exacerbated. Can such a country really have a place in Europe?

When looking at it from the Turkish side, the image of Turkey drawn in the West is very superficial, even in the most well-meaning terms. And the vision of the West is mostly ridiculous. Although the general public's opinion of EU membership is still positive, the public perspective to EU politics and politicians have declined to an extremely negative level. We do not discuss EU membership anymore. We cannot know to what extent we should take the EU seriously and in fact we do not think it would be smart to spend too much energy on it.

If you happen to wonder about its motivations, a recent instance explains it. European Parliament Vice Chairman Alexander Lambsdorff pointed out that there remained no sense in maintaining negotiations with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government and called for the negotiations to be suspended. According to a newspaper, Lambsdorff, who is a friend of Turkey, underlined that the pressure on the media is on the rise in Turkey and the journalists criticizing the government are imprisoned or removed from their jobs. He said in a press statement that the freedom of the press is at stake in Turkey and many journalists are either in jail or have lost their jobs because they criticized the government.

He said all democrats agreed that these were unacceptable in a country that is going through membership negotiations with the EU, adding that if Erdoğan does not see that, it makes no sense to continue the negotiations with his government. "The negotiations should be suspended. In Turkey, not only the freedom of the press, but also the state of law is at stake with the practices of the AK Party government," he said.

Lambsdorff might think his remarks were true. However, to be honest, it only sounds pathetic to me as a person who loves Turkey and has an active interest in politics. Apparently, someone is making Lambsdorff lie and he psychologically does not want to face the lie. The possibility of taking the EU seriously is rapidly decreasing due to such politicians.

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