In Strasbourg, European Parliament (EP) will negotiate the report on Turkey tomorrow and put it to a vote on Thursday. The report will probably be approved. Since Turkey does not recognize this report since the government says its allegations do not reflect the truth, it will be archived as a text that holds no significance.
The greatest contradiction lies in the anti-democratic practices implemented against the country's democratically elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, by those claiming that freedoms are restricted in Turkey. When around 100,000 Turks living in Germany gathered last year for a democracy vigil in Cologne following the July 15 coup attempt, their demand to host Erdoğan at the event via a 10-minute video conference was rejected with a decision issued by the German Constitutional Court. Erdoğan's message to his fellow citizens following the July 15 atrocity was subsequently hindered despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally and EU candidate. I cannot understand the mindset that lies behind this prohibition. Many German friends of mine are also of the same opinion. What harm can a 10-minute video talk possibly do? They have not been able to answer this question so far.
In addition, Turkish ministers and deputies were banned from holding rallies and meetings in EU countries as part of the yes campaign for the constitutional amendment referendum held on April 16, 2017. Particularly in Germany, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands, the referendum rallies aimed at informing Turkish citizens living in those countries were prevented through anti-democratic means by frequently violating freedom of information. Last month, all means were resorted to in order to impede the Erdoğan meeting his fellow citizens in Brussels, where he was visiting due to the NATO summit. In particular, the mayor of Brussels issued outrageous remarks while hindering Erdoğan's meeting with Turks in Brussels.
We are currently observing the same situation in Germany. Some circles disturbed by Erdoğan's possible meeting with Turks in Hamburg following the G20 summit have started to issue several negative statements opposed to a possible meeting. Previously in Hamburg, an attempt to prevent a meeting between the Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Turkish-German citizens was made, upon which Çavuşoğlu met the people at the Turkish Consulate in Hamburg. I was there, too, and I witnessed how disappointed and offended the Turks in Hamburg were from the issued statements.
On July 7-8, I am going to accompany Erdoğan to Hamburg as part of the G20 summit. And I am anxiously bearing witness to the storms raised prior to his visit. People of Turkish origin residing in EU countries resent this situation since they see that the PKK terrorist group's organizations are not prohibited across Europe, although their meeting with a Turkish leader is prevented.
Those holding back the representatives of Turkey in EU countries are condoning the activities of the PKK such as terrorist propaganda, despite the PKK being recognized as a terrorist group by the EU.
EU citizen Turks rightfully resent this hypocrisy, as their trust in the EU has been shattered. They are also disappointed since EU politicians such as EP President Martin Schulz cannot understand a simple truth. When European Turks hear that Erdoğan will visit their country, they send thousands of messages expressing their wishes to meet him. Seeing and listening to the Turkish president is a rare opportunity for them since they live abroad.
This is just a natural, human and democratic request. Therefore, Erdoğan wants to fulfill these requests from his expatriate citizens as much as he is able. But their most democratic right is being violated, and for which they are rightfully upset. Besides, there is no demand to hold a rally in Hamburg due to the security measures taken for the G20 summit. In the previous year, the summit was organized in Turkey's Antalya province, so Turkey can relate to the sensitivities in this regard. But what is the harm in organizing a rally in another German city on July 9? Even this innocent little request from Turkish-Germans is rejected.
Moreover, Erdoğan always underscores in such meetings that Turkish citizens must adapt to the countries they live in. Therefore, it is not possible to comprehend which part of his remarks those opposed find so disturbing.
While they claim that freedoms are restricted in Turkey, they restrict Turkish-origin citizens in Europe from meeting up with their beloved leader. Is this the way freedom must be guarded? Does Europe set a proper example of democracy by behaving like this? Those implementing such anti-democratic restrictions are causing an array of scandals in the name of democracy and freedom across the EU. In this context, we can appreciate even more form West German Chancellor Willy Brandt's famous remark: "Let's dare more democracy." With such prohibitions, democracy and freedom cannot be genuinely defended.