We were deeply grieved by the latest terrorist attack in Brussels last Tuesday.
Terrorism showed its despicable face once again and killed dozens of innocent people. I was in Brussels on Tuesday. I am actually quite familiar with the experiences I had during and in the aftermath of the incidents that took place when DAESH targeted Brussels airport and the Malbeck metro station.
Before this latest attack in Brussels, dozens of civilians were killed at a series of horrendous terrorist attacks organized in Istanbul's Sultanahmet and Taksim districts, and directed at some public buses and bus stops in the center of Ankara during rush hour. I feel the same grief over the Brussels attack as I felt for the attacks in Istanbul and Ankara; just like all people in Istanbul, Ankara and Brussels. Maybe the ones that understand us the most are Parisians.
Following the attacks, now experienced twice in Paris and Istanbul, three times in Ankara, and once in Brussels, we condemned terrorism, conveyed our condolences, and wished the injured a quick recovery.
However, it is clear that the EU was not able to display the same sensitivity towards the victims of terrorism.
After both terror attacks in Paris, many events to commemorate the victims were organized all across the world, particularly in Europe. Likewise, all EU capitals lamented the Brussels attack. The covers of European newspapers were all black.
Turkey also mourned for Brussels' loss. I was in the delegation heading to Paris after the first attack with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Turkey, the Turkish public and media together lamented the Brussels attack, along with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Turks are familiar with the pain of losing people to terrorism, maybe more than anyone else. Turkey is perhaps the only country that has been fighting against multiple kinds of terrorist groups for years. It is the only country which fights against both DAESH and the outlawed PKK, the latter being even more threatening than the former.
However, Turkish citizens understood once again what double standards mean right after the Brussels attack.
The solidarity displayed in EU countries after the events Paris and Brussels were never displayed for Istanbul and Ankara.
In other words, just as some EU countries make a distinction between "good terrorist" and "bad terrorist," they also make a distinction between the terrorism victims killed in Muslim countries and Christian countries. How else can the differences be explained?
We all shouted the slogans "we are Paris" and "we are Brussels." Yet we have never been Istanbul or Ankara together.
This is the main issue.
If the EU cannot even share our grief or act with solidarity, then we should not be surprised at their failures in cooperating against terrorism. If the EU countries had cooperated with Turkey, the second Paris attack and the latest Brussels attack might have been prevented. The terrorists who returned to the EU by Turkey, the most experienced European country with regard to anti-terrorist fight, freely moved around in EU countries, and those same countries are failing to cooperate with Turkey on security. Some EU countries' lack of cooperation with Turkey only causes more and more innocent people to suffer.
It is high time for these countries to revise their attitudes towards Turkey. Turkey allows for democratic liberties more than many EU countries, even during periods of harsh anti-terror fighting. Surely if Turkey was not a democratic state, then the EU would not have made an agreement with Turkey with regard to the refugee issue. So why do some EU countries adopt such attitudes towards Turkey. even though the EU and Turkey have made an agreement on refugee crisis?
As a NATO member, Turkey shares their fate together with them, although they do not support Turkey in its fight against the PKK.
How can we explain the fact that spying activities directed against Turkey, a member of NATO, are backed up by diplomatic representatives of some other NATO member countries? Isn't espionage against Turkey supposed to be regarded as an offense threatening NATO as a whole?
If solidarity cannot be formed among NATO partners with regard to espionage, on what other subjects can they be expected to act with solidarity?
But unfortunately, we have witnessed that solidarity is a rare commodity.
On March 24, 2016, the editor-in-chief Can Dündar of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet and Ankara representative Erdem Gül were tried as part of the "MİT trucks case."The case was filed concerning the newspaper's unlawful publications regarding an illegal search conducted on trucks belonging to Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT). With their publications, which also included photos revealing the bodies of the terrorism victims, Dündar and Gül disregarded the rules of press ethics and exerted efforts to spread public fear. They are charged with transferring state security documents, political and military espionage, releasing secret documents and propaganda for a terror organization.
We do not know whether Dündar is guilty or not. However, he is an alleged criminal at the moment and being tried according to the evidence against him.
In the EU, there is a law valid for all states: ongoing cases cannot be intervened with. Intervening in an ongoing case is really and rightfully a taboo. However, British Consul-General for Istanbul Leigh Turner and French Consul-General for Istanbul Muriel Myriam Domenach were present in the hearing, not to observe the procedure, but rather to stand up for the defendants. Were the Consul-Generals unaware of the requirement I mentioned above? Contrarily, it is pretty certain they were well aware of it.
We cannot object to their observation of the case since this is a case of espionage against the Turkish state. However, a lower ranking diplomat could have followed the case if they were really to insist on observing as a requirement of diplomatic politeness. However, the two consul-generals and some lower-ranking diplomats of various EU countries publicly announced that they stood up for the defendants by taking photos with them.
Was Turner, who has been in office in Istanbul for years and whom have I known in person for a long time, fulfilling a task ordered by the British government while taking selfies with Dündar with an amusement that surprised everyone?
People in Turkey observed their behavior with anger. They could not help asking whether Dündar was an English spy after witnessing the support he received in an espionage case.
Now I would like to ask: How would the Turkish public possibly feel towards the EU when they see that the EU countries' diplomats stand up for the ones charged with the allegations of espionage against Turkey?
I highly wonder how the EU countries, who do not cooperate with Turkey in anti-terror fight, commemorate terrorism victims in France and Belgium but remain indifferent to the victims in Turkey, and advocate the ones charged with allegations of espionage against Turkey, can still criticize Turkey?
The English, French and Belgian diplomats, who disregard state taboos in Turkey, although they would never dare doing such a thing in their own countries, have actually revealed the double standards the EU employs when Turkey is in question.
What a shame!