It is time for Turkey, EU to cooperate

Published 25.04.2017 01:15
Updated 25.04.2017 13:37

Sunday's presidential election in France once again revealed that racism is a rising threat that is at least as grave as terror for the European continent. Far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen not only advanced to the second round of elections with nearly 21.5 percent of the vote but also came in first in many parts of France. Even though she has no chance of winning against Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche!, in the second round scheduled to take place on May 7, Le Pen is expected to receive about 38 percent of the vote, according to public opinion polls.

While anti-Europeanism prevailed in last year's referendum in Italy, it has also become fearfully widespread in France.

Since the end of World War II, elections have become increasingly more conducive with rising racism, human rights violations and xenophobic tendencies. Moreover, racist individuals across Europe are winning a new success with nearly every election result and the situation in the EU is no different, either.

About 100 deputies in the European Parliament (EP) alone have been able to conduct politics based on elections that they won as the result of explicit racist propaganda since 2014.

It is also becoming clear that it is too early to be happy that politicians similar to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini will no longer be able to threaten humanity on the European continent.

Even though they will not be able to win the second round of presidential nominations in France slated for May 7, no one should be happy with what is unfolding. If Europe's democrats do not take the necessary precautions, the European continent will soon encounter an even bigger threat this time.

We saw how the candidates of the central parties in France failed on Sunday and this is not a new situation. The central parties have been unable to fulfill their democratic responsibilities both in the entirety of Europe and particularly in EU member states in recent years. Their failure in the face of the far-right makes them appear even clumsier. They are always losing, as they think that embracing far-rightist slogans is the way of preventing votes for the far-right. This is because the electorate always prefers what is original.

Here is the current situation.

What must be done to combat anti-Europeanism is not to override EU values, as seen in the refugee policy of recent years, but to instead embrace the values of the bloc. The EU's values - especially in the area of human rights - were the guarantee of peace and tranquility in Europe. However, these values have been contravened by central parties the most over the past decade.

The banning of the headscarf, European efforts to directly target people with different voting preferences regarding Turkish politics, prohibiting Turkish language being taught in schools, pledging to remove dual citizenship for Turkish nationals and the false portrayal of all Muslims as being affiliated with "terror" in front of a backdrop of racist political parties purporting "key" propaganda including Islamophobia, xenophobia and anti-Turkish sentiments are problems that best serve the interests of racist parties.

Those who make the EU public an enemy of Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are actually being manipulated as a propaganda tool by racist politicians. This is because all of the anti-Turkey sentiments and provocative manipulations of perception at the hand of the EU, primarily led by the media, have caused central parties to lose more votes in elections. Likewise, every new sanction proposed on the issue of refugees and the harsh measures taken against refugees make it easier for racists to convince the electorate that they are warranted, thus garnering support for their proposals.

Some think that the far-right won the Dutch elections by maintaining an anti-Turkey attitude in line with the expectations of far-rightists, resorting to such anti-democratic means as to ban the distribution of our newspaper, Daily Sabah, in the European Parliament (EP) for voicing this reality. In fact, they are dealing the final blow to their country - and to democracy - by doing so. This reality will surface in the next Dutch election, as it has done in France.

Elections to be held in Germany in September are crucial for the post-Brexit EU. Islamophobia, anti-Turkey sentiments and Germany's anti-Erdoğan attitude do not benefit the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) or the Social Democratic Party (SPD). On the contrary, racist and small parties turn this hostility into votes.

The central parties, which attempted to turn the issues of dual citizenship and adjustment policies into an election tool following the constitutional referendum in Turkey, must think carefully. These debates are most well suited for the Alternative for Germany's (AfD) book.

Above all, it goes against the interests of both Germany and the EU to try to garner votes under the auspices of Turkey's EU accession issue, and Turkish-German relations play a crucial role in the future of Turkey-EU relations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partner, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, make constructive statements in line with their awareness of this responsibility and the upcoming gathering of EU ministers in Malta at the weekend coupled with the EU Summit are poised to bear witness to debates about Turkey, which could come to the delight of racists in the EU once again. The foreign ministers of some small and trivial EU member states are voicing big demands regarding Turkey's EU membership and these demands will lead to grave consequences for the EU.

The major European countries, especially Germany, which shoulders much of the EU burden, must do what is necessary to prevent these mistakes and to thwart wrongful expectations that could further jeopardize the future of the union.

Turkey's referendum has been concluded and there is no point in discussing it. Turkey and the EU, especially Germany, need robust cooperation especially regarding the refugee issue and counterterrorism.

The only way of preventing racism from gaining further footing is for Christian and Muslim democrats in the EU to further their cooperation. Building strong levels of cooperation without a moment's delay, beginning with the Syria issue, means finding a remedy to the most urgent problems facing Europe. Let us note that racism in Europe is nourished also by terrorism.

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