By: Yasin Aktay*
The history of Turkey’s relations with Europe is as old as Turkey’s history itself. Let’s not go that far back. The Ankara Agreement, signed on Sept. 12, 1963, was the start date of the full membership process. However, Europe never respected this calendar and constantly changed the conditions and demands. Greece, which applied on the same date as Turkey, became a member on the date given, but Turkey was kept waiting.
The Sept. 12, 1980 coup, was an excuse to keep Turkey waiting at Europe’s door. This seemed like a strong and just reason and was enough to keep Turkey occupied. Europe supporting the coup perpetrator Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) or criticizing Turkey for taking precautions against FETÖ are all hypocrisy. If FETÖ’s coup attempt had been successful, Turkey would still be waiting, this time the reason would be the coup.
After Turkey returned to a democratic period during the late Turgut Özal’s administration, the answer Turkey got when it decided to do an “electroshock” on European communities was rather surprising. They told Turkey through Özal that, Europe was in a deepening and integration period therefore they did not have expansion on their agenda. Indirectly accepting that they had to fulfill the liabilities of the agreement, once again they showed that they changed the rules of the game for Turkey. Overlooking the agreements signed with Turkey at the 1997 summit, the EU decided that Turkey was not fit to become a full member of the union, but suddenly in 1999, they once again decided that Turkey was fit for full membership. Meanwhile, while making different plans to ensure that Turkey never entered the union, the EU planned to use Turkey’s military power within the scope of NATO operations, but excluded Turkey from being part of the decision making. Part of the EU is casting a role for Turkey.
Turkey was expected to act as a buffer zone between the EU and the crisis zones; to prevent the refugee population from entering Europe; and to act as a waiting area where the qualified refugees were selected if the refugees had to cross over Europe. A Turkey that is steady enough to not create a crisis, and unsteady enough to not stand against Europe! This is the reason why they are annoyed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attitude, which they describe as “dictatorship.” They knew Erdoğan’s attitude was against them and not his nation, and they knew that Erdoğan had an organic bond with this nation.
When you look at the Progress Report prepared for Turkey, especially the part on political criterion, you see that the report was not prepared with the best of intentions. The report also shows that they do not know Turkey at all. An average European who hates Turkey and the opinion of those who prepared the report are equal. After reading this report, it is Turkey’s right to question the EP’s decision.
It is clear that there is something asymmetric about the relation between Turkey and the EU. This situation is created by the fact the EU is yet to make a decision about Turkey’s condition. This indecisiveness is causing them to stagger and act stupidly. When Erdoğan said, “We will name the Copenhagen Criteria the Ankara Criteria and continue our journey,” in 2008-2009, he was indicating the EU’s hypocrisy. With the EU moving away from democracy and human rights, we can understand why it has distanced itself from Turkey, too. The EU was not an aim for Turkey, but was instead a tool for a higher level of welfare, for developing democracy and human rights and for normalizing relations between civilians and the military.
Therefore, the EU should stop acting like a bully and face the reality. If the EU cares the slightest bit about its own claims and values, it should see that it is violating these values while dealing with Turkey. While treating Turkey the way it does, Europe will only go back to the medieval crusaders’ mentality. And this is political reaction for the EU. It is ironic how the only opportunity for the EU to free itself from this reaction is Turkey. The risk that comes with a Turkey without the EU is way lower than the risk of an EU without Turkey.
The 11th day of the disaster in Şirvan
The hopeful wait still continues after the mine disaster in Şirvan. Yesterday, the lifeless bodies of two workers were found and today they found the lifeless body of another worker. There are still five people who are yet to be rescued. AFAD members are working around the clock using all the technological means they have. After the visits of many ministers, yesterday, First Lady Emine Erdoğan, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and his wife Esra Albayrak, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan-Kaya visited the disaster site. These visits boosted the spirits of the families. Speaking of which, I would also like to mention the names of two heroes who have been at the site with the families since the early hours of the disaster: Siirt Brig. Gen. Selçuk Yavuz and the media adviser for the Energy Ministry, Sevda Güner.
*Yasin Aktay is the vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey.
(Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016)