EU must be honest with Turkey

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On Friday, Nov. 10, Turkey commemorated the 79th anniversary of the founder of the modern republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's passing. All Turkish citizens and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in particular, once again made it clear to the entire world how highly the Turkish nation protects and esteems Atatürk's values.

In so doing, they refuted claims made by anti-Turkish circles in the European Union capital Brussels and a number of other European capitals. The groups that want to interrupt Turkey's EU accession, constantly argue that Erdoğan is diverting Turkey away from the West and Atatürk's values, smearing both the country and its president in the process.

However, their claims were proved wrong and showed that the situation was quite the contrary when the same people who defended Turkey's democracy and the values of the modern republic from the coup attempt orchestrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on July 15, 2016, respectfully commemorated Atatürk on Nov. 10.

Unlike the old Turkey, where military tutelage persevered and fascist military coups were staged under the pretext of preserving Atatürk's values, the new Turkey genuinely has been paying respect to the leader, who successfully organized the War of Independence against imperialism and founded the Republic at a time when almost all the world was dominated by empires or fascist administrations.

Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments ensured democracy, freedom of thought and faith, as well as welfare for the Turkish nation after the torments of the old administrations that oppressed the people under the same pretext.

On Nov. 10, the citizens of Turkey remembered Atatürk in a country that has become much more democratic and powerful, achieved economic welfare, provides social services to its people and stands up against global powers by rejecting to be their pawn in the region.

If commemorating Atatürk denotes protecting EU values, AK Party governments and Erdoğan performed this duty to the greatest extent in Turkey's history. Turkey has also fulfilled the Maastricht and Copenhagen criteria more than many EU countries.

If guarding Atatürk's values means fighting against terrorist groups that manipulate Islam, then Turkey's ongoing battle against FETÖ and Daesh is hard evidence.

Moreover, Turkey is the only country fighting the outlawed PKK and its Syrian offshoot Democratic Union Party (PYD), who threaten both Atatürk's Turkey and peace in the world. And given the reality of things, one now needs to question what exactly the EU wants.

In 1932, Atatürk told a Balkan delegation that visited him in Ankara that: "There is a need for a Balkan union... I can see dark clouds rising over the world. Founding a Balkan union will lead to a European union, which will create the exigency to unite all the Western states. It must be a political, cultural and military union. Every nation shall preserve its own national entity on the basis of democracy. A single state, a single military, a parliament comprising the representatives of each country... And every two or four years, a president will be elected from one nation, taking turns."

Clearly, when our Europe was running toward World War II, Atatürk knew that a European union could be the only way to avert a serious disaster.

Turkey is determinedly pursuing the EU membership. As Erdoğan said, Turkey will not give up this objective despite all the hypocritical approaches and resentment toward Turkey.

It is high time the EU became honest with Turkey. If the EU really cares about its own interests, it must be honest with Turkey regarding the membership and take measures against the rise of fascism across the continent to prevent Europe from turning into a Christian league. Atatürk's values amount to the EU values, but the one moving away from these ideals is not Turkey, it is the EU.

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