Controversial PACE step against Turkey reflects EU's 'invisible wall'

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 27.04.2017 01:22
Updated 27.04.2017 01:23

Uneasy about its own future, Europe has been incessantly making exclusionist decisions. The most recent being to place Turkey on a monitoring watch list, which may cause further strain on Turkish–European relations unless the EU wakes up, experts argue

In the midst of recent voting at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which resulted in Turkey being placed on a monitoring watch list, Turkish politicians continue to express condemnation for the result, while experts underline that the decision clearly displays Europe's general position against Turkey. Speaking to Daily Sabah Wednesday, a prominent figure and deputy coordinator of the Ankara-based Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research (SETA), Professor Muhittin Ataman, said Europe is erecting an "invisible wall" around itself and that the decision is an epiphany of Europe and Western states "turning in on themselves."

Echoing Ataman's words, Bora Bayraktar of the International Relations Department of Istanbul Kültür University said the decision was heavily influenced by the "uncertainty of Europe's future within itself." As experts describe the controversial PACE decision to monitor Turkey as being "politically motivated" and "populist," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking to Reuters news agency on Tuesday, said Turkey is ready to reconsider its position on joining the EU, asserting: "If their [the EU] actions are not sincere, we have to find a way out. Why should we wait any longer? We are talking about 54 years [of EU accession talks]." President Erdoğan went on to note that the EU "has never dealt in a genuine, sincere manner" with Turkey over the course of its 54-year bid for EU membership.

Touching on the controversial stance Europe has recently taken against Turkey as well as growing racism, anti-Islamism and xenophobia across the continent, Erdoğan indicated, "Conditions have become very dire in Europe regarding the extent of Islamophobia and meanwhile, the EU is also closing its doors on Turkey."

Underlining that the EU is in a "process of dissolution," the Turkish president also said: "One or two countries cannot keep the EU alive. You need a country like Turkey, a different country that symbolizes a different faith to strengthen the bloc. However, EU member states don't seem to realize this fact." On that note, SETA Deputy Coordinator Ataman indicated that the decision is a direct reflection of the crises facing the West and European states, saying: "The PACE decision is an ideological, political and emotional one," noting that it also shows Europe "is building an invisible wall similar to that of the Berlin Wall from the Cold War era."

"The lack of a strategic mindset means that cultural and ideological motivations will prevail. …We are currently facing a West that is busying itself with building an invisible wall around itself - sometimes via its xenophobic, anti-refugee and anti-Islamic rhetoric," Ataman added. He noted that Europe is facing serious internal crises while also stressing that the bloc is trying to dismiss these crises by marginalizing Turkey. Analogous to Ataman, Bayraktar stressed that the decision to place Turkey under monitoring is simply a continuation of Europe's general anti-Turkey policy. Indicating that he expects Turkish-European relations to be further strained in the near future, Bayraktar also said, "A follow-up to this [PACE] decision may include suspending Turkey's EU accession process, which would be met with a harsh response from Ankara." In that regard, European Parliament's (EP) Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri called on the EU to immediately suspend Turkey's accession negotiations in the event Ankara does not pledge to refrain from applying the changes stated in the constitutional amendment package approved by the public in the April 16 referendum. Earlier in the week, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn also called on EU foreign ministers to consider ending Turkey's accession process when they meet in Malta on Friday. However, Bayraktar said that there is serious "uncertainty" concerning Europe's future, adding: "Europe and its institutions are trying to consolidate their positions in the midst of this uncertainty through their anti-Turkey stance."

Meanwhile, EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik said yesterday in a live interview with A Haber news channel that he will hold extensive meetings in Strasbourg and Brussels in May regarding the controversial PACE decision. Çelik also said that relations between Turkey and PACE will diverge into a different path following the decision, asserting that "There will be some discussion over Turkey-EU relations at the EP and the EU foreign ministers' meeting but I do not think that they will take a more deteriorating step" he added.

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