On Tuesday, relations with Turkey were the topic of discussion in the European Parliament once again.
After a brief speech delivered by Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, the majority of members of Parliament demanded the suspension of Turkey's membership negotiations, while raising objections against updating the Customs Union agreement. Some members of Parliament even expressed anti-Turkish sentiments, contending that Turkey cannot and must not join the EU.
It can be argued that the European Parliament supports Germany and Austria's acts against Turkey much more than the other EU member states, which is not a surprise. EU member states with an anti-Turkey approach have, in particular, demanded that economic sanctions be introduced against Turkey, provoking antagonistic rhetoric towards President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the form of sanctions that would undermine the president as a leader. Those members of the bloc consider the Customs Union to be the most effective instrument in implementing such sanctions.
October will surely be a difficult period for the EU, as the bloc will gather amid the extreme pressures of antagonistic, anti-Turkey member states who will, in actuality, determine the fate of the EU amid discussions on the future of Turkey's accession.
On Tuesday, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini urged those engaged in the Turkey debate to be wary of racism and populism, asserting that a segment of those currently engaged in the Turkey-EU discussion have approached the issue from a populist perspective. While the reactions of Germany and Austria towards Turkey are obvious, politicians are fomenting anti-Turkish sentiment through populist rhetoric aimed at increasing their share of votes, undermining societal life to a large extent. On the other hand, racist parties and groups in the EU consider the latest crisis between Germany and Turkey as a great opportunity to realize their racist objectives. They not only wish for the crisis to expand but also have exacerbated anti-Turkey propaganda. Unfortunately, German Social Democrats (SPD), who seem to have forgotten all the values of the Socialist International (SI), are adding fuel to the flames with regard to the expansion and strengthening of anti-Turkey sentiment. However, the SPD should have taken a stance against antagonism aimed at Turkey, the Turkish people and Muslims, which is growing more dangerous with each passing day. Sadly, however, the German SPD have been overwhelmed by their own ambitions and turned the issue into a personal feud.
Some media outlets in Germany have made a series of alarming recommendations that go against democracy and human rights, such as banning German officials from marrying Turks and banning German officials who hold sensitive positions from entering Turkey.
The course of events is not promising. It is true that Turkey would confront many difficulties if all that we have written down comes true. However, it must be noted that Turkey will consider other alternatives, providing that it confronts such difficulties. The EU is important and valuable for Turkey, but it is not the only option. If the EU chooses to exclude Turkey, the latter will, of course, determine its future without the bloc. I personally do not wish to see Turkey-EU relations end up like this. I still believe that Turkey's entry in the EU will favor both the EU and Turkey. However, as I observe that there are some circles that do not wish to see Turkey or any Muslim country join the EU and other anti-Turkish groups that have used every means to hinder Turkey's negotiations, I have to say that Turkey is required to plan for a future without the EU in the equation. Whether or not Turkey becomes a EU member state, it is a European country. As a European country that is not an EU member, Turkey will undoubtedly take some new steps in line with its own interests if it has to.
Here is the latest example. Despite claims that it is a friend of Turkey, the U.S. has not delivered the air defense system asked for by NATO-ally Turkey. On the other hand, Germany and the Netherlands half-heartedly kept their Patriot missiles in Turkey before eventually withdrawing them again. Turkey, as a NATO ally, was left alone to deal with that matter. So, the country naturally preferred not to remain defenseless by purchasing S-400 missiles from Russia.
It will fall under the responsibility of the EU if future developments follow the same inclinations. If the EU decides to suspend Turkey's EU membership negotiations and refuses to renew the Customs Union agreement, then Turkey will work to improve its ties with other friendly nations.The EU has to consider that, above all, their industrialists would be the most harmed, while those who are willing to enter the Turkish market will see gains. Furthermore, such a development would not contribute to the resolving of the Cyprus issue and other issues between Turkey and Greece. If the EU chooses to exclude Turkey, it will also need to consider other alternatives with regards to defense policies, the counterterrorism fight and the refugee crisis, if they happen to find another alternative at all.