The EU must re-evaluate its Turkey policy

Published 27.09.2017 20:27

With the German federal elections settled, the European Union (EU) should now urgently focus on reevaluating its policy on Turkey. The move is sure to favor the EU's interests more than that of Turkey's.

With the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) entering the parliament for the first time the recent German elections have exposed a grave European reality. It proved that exploiting the problems with Turkey instead of resolving them only favors racists.

Now, we are likely to see similar outcomes in Austria, which goes to the polls in October.

Europe's far-right and racist political parties realized that an incompetent EU would only benefit them and organized all their propaganda accordingly.

The unrest among the general public in the EU, caused by the bloc's incompetence, only bred hope for racists and Neo-Nazis. For them, the prevalent anti-Turkey rhetoric has become a means to substantiate their own anti-EU rhetoric.

They are prompt in calling the problems between the EU and Turkey "insoluble," although they can easily be solved with little effort.

Unfortunately, some governments and centrist parties within the EU have done the greatest harm by adopting slogans reminiscent of racist propaganda and by not taking a stand against racist political parties.

The EU remains defenseless as the social democrats and the greens, who claim to be the watchdog of EU values, cannot understand this plot and unwittingly play an active role in it.

The German elections proved that the EU and Turkey cooperation played a major role in defending democracy in Germany.

Thanks to the agreement signed between the EU and Turkey as well as some other measures, the plans to hinder German Chancellor Angela Merkel's reelection were disrupted.

Had the EU and Turkey not reached such an agreement, Germany would have faced a massive influx of refugees and the present situation in Bundestag would be much different. The same goes for Austria.

In Germany and Austria, the two leading countries that resort to anti-Turkey and anti-Erdoğan discourse, the far-right parties would be even more prominent today had the EU and Turkey not cooperated on the refugee issue. This would have surely and irreparably harmed democracy in Europe.

It will be a big mistake to consider the EU-Turkey cooperation as a temporary agreement to tackle several issues. In fact, ensuring a permanent cooperation between them and the latter's integration in the EU would actually guarantee the bloc's future.

Members of the European Parliament, however, still have difficulties realizing this fact and they continuously aim Turkey. As evident in their plans to organize an Armenian conference on Oct. 19, 2017, and a number of meetings with the outlawed PKK and its Syrian offshoot Democratic Union Party (PYD). Similar acts of provocations are often seen all across the EU.

The EU administrative bodies, including the European Council, European Commission and the governments of the EU countries, shoulder a great deal of responsibility in this regard and have to come up with new policies on Turkey by taking the EU's future in consideration. They must step back from the mistakes of establishing dialogues with Turkey solely through channels opposed to Erdoğan.

There is a wise Turkish proverb which can be literally translated as "It's never too late to make amends." This proverb speaks of the urgencies faced by the EU-Turkey relations.

More importantly, the EU can also fulfill its wish of having a say in the new world order by cooperating with Turkey, instead of turning against it.Turkey can be the EU's gate to the Islamic world. But as long as the EU does not accept Turkey in the Union because of its Islamic identity, its messages to the rest of the world will remain implausible.

Attempting to maintain the policies on Turkey by grieving over the old Turkey and trying to resuscitate it impedes understanding the dynamics of the new Turkey and keeping up with the new world order.It is simply impossible to overlook the fact that resolving the most crucial issues in the current global system, including the EU's common defense policy, counter-terror endeavors, and refugee challenge depends on Turkey-EU cooperation and Turkey's future within the Union.

Furthermore, without close cooperation, the EU will also face difficulties to resolve problems like Greece-Turkey disputes, the Cyprus issue and various crises in Syria, Iraq and other countries in the region. From this point of view, it can be safely argued that the EU and Turkey were obliged to establish a close cooperation.

The EU must reevaluate its Turkey policy and to do so it must discard anti-Turkey and racist sentiments from Germany and Austria.

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