The EU must endeavor to understand Turkey instead of defaming it

Published 24.05.2016 01:42

Parliament members were not in office in Brussels last week as the European Parliament had a "green week." I do not know how they spend "green weeks," during which parliamentarians are to be present in their electoral districts, but I would like to thank in particular 19 parliament members and their assistants. I owe my thanks to them because they allowed their assistants to pay a visit to Turkey. The assistants have endeavored to understand our country by spending five days in Turkey during a period when various biased and unjust comments are made regarding Turkey. I appreciate their effort.At the European Parliament, the assistants of the members are young politicians who closely follow political issues and have serious responsibilities within their fields. As a former member of the European Parliament, I am familiar with their busy schedules and intense workload. So their visit in Turkey despite their busy schedule and the latest news of terrorist attacks has a special importance to me. The assistants were hosted by Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, who was born in Siegen, Germany and studied in Germany and England, and all were visiting Turkey for the first time. During their visit, they got to take short trips to Ankara, Gaziantep and Istanbul. They saw how life goes on in Turkey, despite terrorism.

In Ankara, they visited Parliament, which must have been an interesting experience, given their professions. They found a chance to speak honestly and ask questions at some ministries and the presidential office. In Gaziantep, along with seeing various historical artifacts reflecting the multicolored and unique structure of Anatolia, they also visited refugee camps. They saw Turkey's dedication to helping refugees and listened to refugees who expressed their contentment with the conditions in the camps.

In Istanbul, they discovered the beauties of the city while examining its history.

Five days might be a short period for such a visit, but throughout their visit they had an opportunity to get to know our country, and I am sure they now understand us better than before. An assistant told me, "We have not seen any military officer with weapons, despite the ongoing threat of terrorism," which is impressive. Before heading to Turkey, they probably assumed that Turkey was full of military officers on the streets. I am sure they appreciated seeing that Turkish people could go about their daily lives, despite terrorism.

I wish all our addressees in the EU and at the European Parliament would pay a visit to Turkey with an effort to understand us. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Some European Parliament members head to Turkey only as guests of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is an outspoken advocate of the outlawed PKK terrorist organization. They analyze Turkey based only on remarks from HDP members and proponents, which produces bad results.

However, if some groups in the EU and some members of the European Parliament make an effort to understand Turkey instead of defaming it, it may be possible to discard many of the problems between the EU and Turkey.

Someone who has a good grasp of the Turkish people could understand why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is such a beloved and popular figure, and see the rightful sensitivities of our people with regard to terrorism and the outlawed PKK.

Those lecturing from afar could see why a presidential system would be the most suitable regime for Turkey if they would listen to the right dialogue. They would see how wrong it is to defame Erdoğan by calling him a dictator.

Turkish people are right to reproach European Parliament members because they act as if they know better than the Turkish public what is good for Turkey. The latest instance also demonstrates that.

Following voting on Friday, Parliament lifted the political immunity for certain deputies, with an aim to prosecute those with links to terrorism. It is true that most of those deputies are from the HDP, since many deputies from this party were caught in the act while committing offenses under the command of the PKK. Some of them transported weapons for the terrorist group in their cars by trusting their immunity to protect them, while others secretly took PKK militants who were injured during attacks on security forces to a hospital. Some of the deputies took part in various secret meetings with bandits leading the PKK. The list goes on and on.

The Turkish public is pleased by Parliament's decision to lift the immunity since terrorism is causing suffering and turmoil across the country. However, a scandalous reaction to the decision has been shown by some members of the European Parliament and some figures in charge of the EU, who are not living in Turkey and are not threatened by the PKK's terrorism.

I would like to ask: How would the Belgian public react if some Belgian deputies transported weapons for the terrorists who shed blood in Brussels and Paris? Would they not be called to account for exploiting their immunity? Let's be honest.

Terrorism causes turmoil in Turkey, just like in Belgium and France. They should try to understand the Turkish people by putting themselves in their shoes.

Kati Piri, a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, who has anti-Turkey reflexes despite being Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, has recently issued some remarks on social media with regard to the approval of the bill to lift immunity. Her remarks have been condemned by the Turkish public. Piri claimed that lifting immunity is a major leap away from democracy, which proves that she could not understand Turkey and its concerns. Just like some other members of the European Parliament, Piri adopted an unfavorable attitude with her remarks, one which might encourage the PKK.

With the example set by Piri, we have seen how those not exerting any effort to understand Turkey are biased. As can be seen, they suffer from one-sided and partial information. Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee Co-President Ahmet Berat Çonkar, Istanbul deputy for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), released a press statement responding to Piri. Çonkar rightfully said, "In plain terms, [Piri] missed the reality again by displaying an approach that puts emphasis on and almost defends a party that acts as if it was a political extension of [the outlawed PKK]. She could not distance herself from the terrorist group, and turns a blind eye to the damage that PKK terror causes in Turkey, particularly upon locals in southeastern Turkey."

The situation is evident. If you do not want to understand Turkey and the Turkish public, you can go on with your nonsensical arguments. However, such a stance will not benefit the members of the European Parliament, who will give an account of their deeds in front of the electorate when they are confronted with a refugee problem in the future as a result of complicating relations with Turkey.

Before it is too late, you should try to know Turkey, instead of defaming it. Otherwise, the Turkish people will believe that you are deliberately turning a blind eye to Turkey's concerns, just as Piri does. And in such a case, the EU will be the losing party.

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