Von der Leyen and the EU's Turkey policy

Published 17.07.2019 21:38
Updated 18.07.2019 00:08

Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, as expected, was elected as the EU Commission president by the EU Parliament on Tuesday evening. A total 383 members of parliament out of 751 elected her. She had to receive at least 274 votes. She received nine more. I guess those who are criticizing this result and finding it rather low were unable to come to a certain realization. The old European Parliament is no more. In the new European Parliament, forming the majority will always be difficult. Thus the 383 votes could be interpreted as a success. In the end, the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Liberals and some members of parliament from other groups which are upholding the EU and Europe elected von der Leyen. It was a mistake for the German Social Democrat members of parliament to not elect Germany's first commission president in the EU. But this did not become a problem.

The far-right and far-left within the European Parliament did not elect von der Leyen as if they had formed an alliance that did not surprise us. It was expected of these members of parliament, which are against the EU and have problems with Europe, to not elect von der Leyen. Even though the Greens declared that they would not elect von der Leyen, I am pretty sure that the Greens of "Real Politics" voted for her.

A difficult duty is awaiting Germany's first female and German commission president, a mother of seven, von der Leyen. She promised that 50 percent of the EU Commission commissars will be women. Because of this, she has to negotiate with the leaders of EU member states. After all, commissars are suggested by the member states. It is not going to be easy to make half of the member states appoint a female commissar instead of a male.

In addition, with the European Parliament, another election process is awaiting her. The commissars that will form the EU Commission have to be approved by the parliament. Especially commissars that are going to be suggested by countries like Hungary and Italy will have a hard time receiving approval from the European Parliament.

Starting Nov. 1, 2019, von der Leyen will begin her duty as EU Commission president, together with her commissars. Not only in Europe but across the world in general, problems are not waiting for a new EU Commission to be formed. In a difficult period such as this, it will be beneficial for the new EU Commission to begin working as soon as possible.

From Turkey's perspective too, the new EU Commission is very important. As German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen is not a stranger to Turkey. In fact, as the defense minister of NATO member Germany, she is a politician who is aware of the importance of Turkey for NATO and the EU's security policies. Von der Leyen who is an advocate of the idea of the "European Army," knows very well that this goal needs more time. When the problems of refugees and such are concerned, the EU's need for Turkey is indisputable. However in today's world, in a period where security needs increase with each passing day, it is clear that the EU needs Turkey in this regard as well. Turkey, which is one of the most powerful armies of NATO in Europe and the Middle East, is one of the most successful countries when it comes to fighting terrorism. When it comes to Europe's security, Turkey is not a country that can be alienated and "lost" to Europe.

Of course, Turkey also needs the EU. The relationship between the EU and Turkey is one that is enforced due to mutual interests. From this perspective, it is a great mistake by the EU Commission to support south Cyprus's incorrect political moves and whims within the Eastern Mediterranean just because it is a member of the EU. South Cyprus is making mistakes due to a misguided enmity for Turkey, which is against the EU's interests in regards to EU security policies.

For the EU to see Turkey and Cypriot Turks protecting their rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean as a wrong step is the wrong attitude. Instead of being on the wrong side, the EU should have been the mediator in this matter. In fact, the EU should have been the side aiming to solve a problem between a member state and a candidate state in a fair manner. Unfortunately, until today, it has been unable to succeed in this.

Approaching Turkey with threats of sanctions will not solve the problem but will make it even more unsolvable.

In a similar vein on the war against terror in Syria and Iraq, the EU should not follow the footsteps of the U.S. for its own interests.

The EU immediately has to re-evaluate its policies toward Turkey. Today's EU commission, which is about to end its duty, is unable to succeed in this matter. One of the first steps the new EU commission that von der Leyen will become the president of has to take should be this matter. Dialogue with Turkey should be cleared of its threatening tone. The attitude toward Turkey should be constructive and positive. A realistic approach is needed.

Our wish for EU-Turkey relations with von der Leyen is to be able to take the steps that will be beneficial for both sides.

We say "Godspeed."

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