In a period when Turkey is discussing snap presidential and parliamentary elections, the EU released its annual Turkey Progress Report, which includes a number of unfair reviews.
In fact, European Parliament experienced a scandal just before the report was released. The European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and the European Commission planned to hold a session with parliament members before publicly announcing the report. At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the European Commission did not attend the meeting and the parliament members showing up for the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting waited for an hour. This happened because the commission had another meeting at that moment. Actually, this was caused by French President Emmanuel Macron. He took part in a European Parliament debate on Tuesday and gave a long but empty speech. Many parliament members left the session, as they did not want to listen to Macron. Despite that, Macron kept the session engaged until 1 p.m., so the commission and parliamentarians could not attend to their plans scheduled for Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs Committee members were incensed over the absence of the commission. As a Turk, I am actually supposed to be pleased with this inconvenience since they would probably have issued clichéd remarks about Turkey had they been on time. But as a former member of European Parliament, I cannot be content with such a thing, as this attitude from the commission undermines the democratic atmosphere of the EU. Whether we love it or not, the parliament is the highest EU body whose members enter office with democratic elections, so the commission has to take this body seriously. Although the current parliamentarians do their best not to be taken seriously, the commission should not have a right to exploit this situation. But this is not the only defective point of the commission. It also has defects regarding the annual Turkey Progress Reports it issues by reviewing Turkey in completely incorrectly.
The Turkey Progress Reports from the commission remind me of a Nasreddin Hodja anecdote popular in Turkey: One day, a burglar breaks into Hodja's house and robs everything in the house. Upon this, the neighbors begin criticizing Hodja: "Did you not lock the door? Did you leave the window open? Did you leave the keys in the door?" Getting impatient with the wave of criticism, Nasreddin Hodja shoots back: "Does the burglar not have any fault?"
The 2018 Turkey Progress Report seems to have been written with a mindset reminiscent of Nasreddin Hodja's neighbors. According to the report, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the People's Protection Units (YPG) are not terrorist organizations. Although they list the PKK as a terrorist group, they still criticize Turkey's rightful fight against terrorism. The court verdicts on FETÖ operatives who organized a coup attempt are being criticized.
This is almost like a comedy. European Commission members suggest Turkey take proportional measures in its counterterrorism fight, but cannot freely go out into streets when there is a terrorist attack in Brussels. EU capitals such as Brussels and Paris are filled with military vehicles and fully equipped troops due to previous attacks. Even subways, trams and buses do not operate, and cafes and bars are closed. Brussels immediately turns into an unlivable city. Despite this, they still suggest Turkey be more proportional in its measures, although it is they who have a lot to learn from Turkey on this subject.
The Foreign Ministry's response to the report is clear: "Unfortunately, the European Commission showed that it was once again unwilling to understand the difficulties of the period we are passing through. Although we have explained these issues repeatedly supported by documentation, the Commission was unable to be objective and balanced."
In particular, the commission's claim that Turkey diverges from the EU is unrealistic. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and all the other relevant Turkish authorities unremittingly stress that Turkey has not given up the objective of joining the EU, it implements the EU strategy and will never give up on that matter. Despite that, the EU constantly marginalizes Turkey and never keeps the promises it gives to Ankara. Although they assert the contrary, the world is bearing witness to the facts. The EU's claim that Turkey diverges from the EU is a distortion of facts given that the EU hinders Ankara's accession process with artificial, political blockages.
In this sense, the last paragraph of the Foreign Ministry's press release is constructive in a way that the EU does not deserve: "Despite all the negativity in the EU's approach, EU membership continues to remain our strategic priority. With this understanding, as is customary, the Turkey Country Report and the Enlargement Strategy Document will be evaluated in coordination primarily with our EU Affairs Ministry and our relevant institutions, constructive criticism in these documents will be taken into consideration and our opinions will be forwarded to the Commission." Turkey displays exemplary behavior to the EU even in its response to the report.