Some recent remarks issued at the European Parliament have transgressed acceptable limits, with Kati Piri, the EP rapporteur for Turkey, issuing a bizarre statement about the European Commission's recommendation to lift visa requirements for Turkey in efforts to oppose Turkey, and the rapporteur seems obliged to do so. Apparently, her close relations with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which endorses and represents the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), keeps her from being able to recognize reality. Otherwise, she would not have confused the topic of immigration with that of the counter-terrorism fight. Some other European Parliament members also went too far in their attempts to blackmail Turkey; an incident which has, in fact, proven effective in revealing the true colors in the European Parliament.
Some EU lawmakers, who denounce the imposing of visa restrictions on Turkish citizens calling it an injustice, are not very familiar on the issue; therefore, they should be reminded that the European Commission recommended the European Council and the European Parliament to lift the visa requirement for Turkish citizens in a report.
It must be emphasized at this point that visa exemption is not a favor. The current state of affairs is actually an obnoxious double standard which contradicts EU values and human rights. With the visa exemption, the EU will only partially lift the great injustice it has inflicted. Therefore, those members of the European Parliament should not adopt a condescending demeanor towards Turkey.
The EU, which does not require a visa even from countries that are not EU members, has performed an unjust practice for years. I directly ask: What shortfalls do you find in Turkish citizens that lead you to avoid visa exemption? They do not have any shortcomings, and the EU is actually cognizant of the fact. While the visa injustice has been ongoing, the European Commission has praised Turkey's economy in the annual progress reports which it has issued on Turkey. While EU countries were suffering from large-scale economic problems, Turkey's economy has not had major problems, and still does not have. Turkey's economy is more stable, is stronger and more reliable than those of many EU countries.
It would not been sensible for a citizens of this country to abuse visa exemption and leave Turkey to start a new life in an EU country. Why would they prefer the EU countries, with their high unemployment rates and shortsightedness, to the welfare and good living standards of Turkey? Those putting forward some nonsensical arguments such as "Turkish people will flow to Europe if the visa requirement is lifted," must bear in mind that Turkish youth currently living in Europe are intending or attempting to return to Turkey, since they do not see a bright future ahead for themselves in Europe. For these youth, Turkey is a more attractive and inviting option.
Blackmailing Turkey under such circumstances undermines the EU and those countries where limits have been crossed. I would like to address those European Parliament lawmakers who lately put emphasis on the benchmarks which Turkey is expected to fulfill: It is not fair to create an upheaval over a few benchmarks, considering that Turkey has fulfilled some 69 benchmarks. All you are expected to do is lift the visa requirement: that is all.
Their relations with Turkey in the context of EU membership are not fair. They granted full membership to some countries that could not fulfill even the closing criteria of the most critical chapters. Two such countries have still not fulfilled the closing criteria. But they have been EU members for years, despite that. Those who think that voting in the European Parliament can be used as blackmail should know that Turkey is running out of patience. The citizens of a country, in which terror causes casualties every day, cannot sacrifice the counter-terrorism fight for the sake of visa-free travel. But if some figures at the European Parliament wish to sabotage the agreement on refugees between Turkey and the EU in this way, they will have to live with hosting refugees soon after the agreement is broken.
Over the weekend, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu issued some remarks that reflected the view of all Turkish citizens. "Turkey does not deserve such treatment. Yesterday the EU needed Turkey, but it did not want to admit it. Today, the EU needs Turkey even more, and it finally had to recognize it. We tell them that they will need Turkey more in the future. We needed the EU, and will continue to need the EU in the future. We neither deny it, nor take it as a matter of pride. After all, mutual benefits form the basis for international relations. Therefore, [the EU] needs to regard Turkey as a strategic partner rather than a temporary one. We view our EU membership process through a strategic point of view, and we invite the EU to avoid double standards. As a friend who knows the EU and Europe well and as the person who acted as the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, I suggest [the EU] avoid double standards."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently expressed the reproach which Turkish citizens feel in the following remarks, "Those ignoring our country's dedication to the issue of migrants closed their gates because of only a few hundred migrants. When bombs exploded in their own territories, they came to the point of suspending democracy and liberties. Those who recommend that Turkey revise its legislation on terrorism should remove the tents terrorists set up in front of the European Parliament."
I would like to underline again that while the people of Turkey are confronted with continuing daily loss of life due to attacks launched by the outlawed PKK terrorist organization, it is not appropriate for some members of the European Parliament to bargain visa exemption over the fight against terrorism. If they do that, the Turkish people will reply with dignity and clarity, saying that they do not want the visa exemption at that price. And, if the EU sacrifices the agreement regarding refugees for the sake of several impertinent European Parliament lawmakers, EU governments will have to pay the cost.