Understanding Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is crucial

Published 02.10.2017 19:42

Today is Oct. 3, a very important day in German history. It is celebrated as German Unity Day, and I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate this key moment in the country's history.

Germans are quite successful with their economy, yet they have recently been left grappling with a number of political issues. For the first time since 1945, a political party representing far right and racist groups has entered the Bundestag after the recent federal elections.

After being ruled by a series of strong coalition governments over the last decade, Germany is currently battling itself to establish a new government, and the process might go on until the beginning of 2018.

Hopefully, the problems will be solved soon, which will open ways to patch-up a strained Turkey-Germany relationship. Putting it back on the right track will also boost ties between the European Union and Turkey.

The EU, however, needs to change its perspective on Turkey and has to be willing to better understand the country.

EU-Turkey relations cannot be summed up in a few sentences, and no results can be achieved by holding biased assumptions like "Turkey cannot be an EU member."

Likewise, people in Turkey, resentful of the EU's attitude, simply say, "We do not want the EU," which is also problematic.

The truth is clear: Relations between the EU and Turkey cannot be written off with simply since the relations are more deeply rooted than they may seem. Especially with the new global order, the EU cannot afford to lose Turkey, and rightly so no responsible EU official has ever opposed Turkey's membership to the bloc. Turkey, on the other hand, cannot give up on its EU aspirations either. Thus, no responsible Turkish official speaks against membership.

The rhetoric President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used to talk about the EU during his speech in Parliament on Oct. 1 is nothing new. Over the years, President Erdoğan has used similar expressions and language in the majority of his speeches to address the EU.

Unfortunately, however, EU countries, their governments, European media and the EU itself never seem to fully understand Erdoğan's remarks.

So, it would be useful to remind our European friends of what Erdoğan said: "Those who knock on our doors when their citizens are apprehended in our country for crimes like terrorism, do not even bother to process the files we send them."

"The EU's hypocrisy towards our country in every area, including chapters and freedom of movement, is so obvious that they can no longer find an excuse for it."

"What we can see is that Turkey's patience, shown since making the first application in 1959 and the 1963 Ankara Agreement, is misunderstood by the EU. However, I want to say this clearly: We will not end the process, nor shall we throw in the towel or give up. In fact, we do not need EU membership."

With these remarks, Erdoğan summed up what has happened in the recent past. He speaks on behalf of the 78 million Turkish citizens, persistently expressing their concerns for years. Not just Turkey's government, its people have also grown tired of this deadlock.

The double standards were evident once more, this time in Spain. The EU issued only a tepid condemnation of the Spanish police and their handling of the Catalan referendum as well as its five million citizens. We can only guess how the EU could have reacted and gone on the rampage if something even vaguely similar happened in Turkey. Turkish people are tired of such double standards. They are running out of patience.

The old Turkey is a thing of the past now, and the new Turkey is confident about a future outside the EU, even though it might not be an ideal situation.

Turkey's relations with the world outside of the EU are also improving with each passing day. Therefore, Turkey's assertion that it was not destined to be an EU member must be evaluated correctly because the country still values membership and holds it above the other alternatives. This is the best way forward for Turkey. As a result, it keeps advancing towards EU membership and determinedly maintains its EU strategy.

Turkey will not definitely throw in the towel when it to comes to EU membership. But, the EU must also immediately review its approach.

The EU needs to correctly evaluate and understand Erdoğan's Oct. 1 speech. Surely they are not dealing with the Turkey of the past. They need to realize this and quick.

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