The European Union, which has kept Turkey waiting at the door to accession since 1963, recently released a progress report for 2020.
All commentary can sum up the message of the European Commission's latest enlargement report, which also includes Turkey, in one sentence: "Turkey's chances of joining the EU are steadily decreasing.”
This is like a joke. They say our chances of accession are getting worse. What if the opportunity that has not increased in 57 years decreases? Do the members of the commission really believe that this message is a source of motivation to suppress Ankara? Do they think that this membership carrot still whets the appetite of the Turkish public?
I regret to inform you that, apart from a group of academics who have no credibility in society, no one has expressed Turkey's EU goal here in our country. Therefore, political parties are content to address this issue superficially in their programs.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was severely criticized in the commission's reports, is perhaps the last chance for establishing a bridge between Turkey and the EU.
Indeed, despite the bloc's double standards, Erdoğan has always managed to keep his goal of full accession alive for public perception. He has made the conservative segment, which makes up the majority of the Turkish electorate, sympathize with the EU, which is seen as “a Christian club.”
He has partially erased the bad traces engraved in the collective memory of the Turks, such as the admission of our neighbor, Athens, which applied to the union on the same date as Ankara, 40 years ago.
Erdoğan has also taken major political risks for Turkey's EU membership. His clear endeavors for a “yes” on the 2004 referendum on the unification of northern and southern Cyprus is the clearest example of the courage I have spoken of.
Moreover, Erdoğan did not give up even when Brussels accepted the Greek Cypriot administration, which said “no” for the United Nation’s “United Cyprus” plan, into full membership despite EU law and judicial decisions.
Even a strong politician like Erdoğan, who has doubled the votes of his nearest rival, is not likely to be persistent in the EU.
After all, the vast majority of Turkish voters agree that we have gone the extra mile for 57 years. They see the EU's approach, which considers even our rights to self-defense, such as the fight against terrorism, to be “luxurious,” as a threat to their national security. For instance, they do not accept concessions on sovereignty and commercial rights in the Eastern Mediterranean for the sake of accession.
The U.K.'s rush to secede from the union and the rebellion of countries such as Italy and Spain, which could not get any support from the bloc during the pandemic, also broke the EU's magic.
So, where will this forced relationship end? I think the most realistic scenario is the continuation of the de facto situation; the continuation of both parties with the customs union, as in the relationship model that Britain, which left the EU, is working on, and giving up the full membership perspective.
Of course, such a clarification would increase the cost of the work that Turkey has gracefully undertaken so far, which includes holding refugees en route to the EU.
Ankara can proceed on its way for another half-century without becoming an EU member, but how can Brussels cope with a Turkey whose hopes of membership have disappeared is unknown.