Once upon a time in the East

Published 22.06.2016 22:26

About a decade ago, there was excitement prevalent in Turkey about joining the European Union. At large-scale celebrations held in some cities, including Ankara and Istanbul, before Oct. 3, the start date of the negotiations, people were saying that the EU journey was about to be finalized.

Positive statements issued by both Ankara and the EU instilled high hopes. They thought the remaining chapters would be completed in the future one by one.

We have come to these days through such a process. Each day, an EU official makes some political statements emphasizing that Turkey's full membership is only a dream. And I surmise that Turkish people's willingness to join the EU is at the lowest level in the history of the process.

What exactly happened to efface this positive atmosphere all of a sudden?

Has political power in Turkey changed hands? Has the country drawn a new direction for itself? Has an economic crisis changed the social and political atmosphere in the country?

Fortunately, the answer to all these questions is no. In other words, there has been no change on the eastern front of the union except for some trivial routine disruptions in the process.

However, sometimes it is hard to make sense of Brussels's attitude. The extent of negative statements from the EU regarding the negotiation process has reached such a level that even those in favor of joining the EU, including me, are now saying enough is enough.

How could we stand without reacting? As can be seen, some officials, including European Parliament President Martin Schulz, presumptuously question Turkey's right to sovereignty and Turkish people's political choices.

For instance, whenever a discussion is initiated about the readmission agreement, Schulz or others target the politicians representing Turkey. They even argue that their only addressee is not President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

How can they argue that they do not recognize a political leader elected by 52 percent of the popular vote? Do they have such a right?

Why do we need lectures on democracy if the EU has the privilege of not recognizing the popular will of a candidate country only because it does not favor some remarks from its government and president? Evidently, Brussels has not yet gotten used to Ankara's watching out for its own national interests on subjects such as the refugee agreement and the counterterrorism fight.

Leaving aside even the minimum requirements of diplomacy without needing to conceal his animosity, Schulz has recently made threats again.

Commenting on alternatives Ankara should work on given that the EU has not performed its duties regarding the readmission agreement and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, Schulz said: "I do not think Erdoğan would take such a risk. Then, in the eyes of the international public, he would end up being [the one] submitting refugees to human traffickers and serving such illegal groups instead of being considered someone transporting refugees to Europe through legal ways."

Insults and abasement, again

When this is the case, no one can complain about Turkey's declining motivation for attaining EU membership.

Of course, a reproach should not be the only answer to such insolence. No one should forget that Turkey has shouldered the burden of refugees alone, and the price of bringing Turkey's open-door policy into force would be heavy for any country, particularly for those in the EU.

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