ERTUĞRUL ÖZKÖK > Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Middle East

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Do you remember?

After a tense night in 2002 we woke up to a sweet dream in the morning.

Turkey’s negotiations for full membership with the European Union had started then.

The press was free and enthusiastically celebrated that lovely morning with its free will.

Please take a look at “Turkey’s horizon” in the headlines from that morning.

The most secular ones, the social democrats, even the most dissident ones applauded until their palms throbbed with pain.

For whom were they applauding?

For two figures holding negotiations in Brussels that night: current President Abdullah Gül and current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Our souls were full of hope.

Our children would be able to live within the borders of European civilization, which we would be very proud to be a part of.

The long-established and old democracy of Europe would set an example for us.

As years passed, we forgot that lovely morning.

We even began to look down on it.
We embraced pompousness and said: “We don’t have things to learn from them, instead they have many things to learn from us.”

And it was not enough.

We turned our faces to the Middle East.

And its excuse was ready.

Europe turned away from us, so we turned our faces to the Middle East.

We not only turned our faces, but also put our noses into the region.

We attempted to set our democracy, which is very deficient compared to Europe, as an example for the Middle East, which has no democracy.

We believed in that, and even believed in their pretending to believe in us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Middle East, where bombs explode in civil areas.

We went down into the depths of the Middle East.

That splendid historic vision was merely childish fantasies which were exaggerated as “our interests.”

That deep strategy carried the Middle East to Gaziantep.

The Arab Spring has brought the dead of winter to Turkey, even before the summer ends.

Who brought the Middle East to Gaziantep?

The responsibility lies with those who are making us believe their dreams of childhood as strategic depth, those who endorsed the ideals of the European Union, but forgot about them and instead said: “We are done with EU” once the Ergenekon trials started. Those who thought the European Union was a trick of the West and those of us who do not bother to recall those ideals
We are all responsible.

My dear country, you are now in the Middle East. It came to you before you went to it.

And you better get to know the old geography which you once tried to forget.

The Middle East is the bomb in Gaziantep.

Frightened of a face-to-face challenge, it waits in dark corners. It does not go straight to the soldier but kills a person that walks in the street as he goes to his home.

The Middle East is the bomb in Gaziantep.

It does not like children. Its children have no value at all. It makes its own children live bombs and sends them to death.

The slaughters are made on the avenue of the innocents.

The Middle East is no longer among the hands of its own people.

It is the dark geography of a man with a mission, of street gangs, of hideous plotters.

Arabs are victims, so are Palestinians, so are Israelis. Muslims are victims, so are Christians, so are Jews.

This is the place where we are poking our nose.


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Notice on comments

david ellison

8/23/2012 11:36:37 PM

My total respect goes to this author. What an extraordinary article and so accurate

dogan kemal ileri

8/23/2012 10:47:01 PM

Well I must be the only one here to think this article is a load of sentimental hogwash.I am totally opposed to Turkiye's entry to the EU but the fact is the AKP government has not in fact let up an iota in their European venture.Quite the opposite its the French and Germans principally aided by Austria,Holland and Denmark( all of them highly institutionally racist countries) who are infused with double standards and oppose Turkiye's progress.Explain why not one chapter has in fact been closed!!


8/23/2012 7:11:49 PM

A good article successfully pointing out Turkey's political failures and or mistakes regarding its EU membership status. Unfortunately it is not only Turkey's involvement in the Middle East which humpers its EU aspirations but its intransigent policy regarding Cyprus, as well as the Islamist polarization of the AKP. Regards

Nuri Gotham

8/23/2012 5:53:54 PM

Former president Mr.Ozal once said; "The Middle East is like a party. You are either a guest or on the menu". Welcome home !

Nuri Gotham

8/23/2012 12:45:17 PM

Ironically, in his recent interview with Charlie Rose, Mr.Erdogan said his government's most important task is "to become a EU member" !

Recep Ozel

8/23/2012 12:05:57 PM

Great article! Hope something like this was published in the main newspapers.

Johanna Dew

8/23/2012 11:51:23 AM

This is one of the best, simple and direct columns I've read in Turkey about the issues involved. Turkey lost a lot of its potential by taking sides. It kept a healthy distance of the ME politics for more than 80 years and is now unfortunately too much involved to act as an regional power broker. Also, the columnist made a fair assessment without falling into platitudes. Excellent!

Rimon Tree

8/23/2012 11:14:11 AM

Absolutely brilliant article without any words of hate or overstressing the failures of the current government. Facts and developements just pointed out calmly, with much understanding of the human soul and pondering unbiased on a high intellectual level! Congratulations! One can take a lesson from that, when lured into angry comments and I certainly will!

Shah Hamdan

8/23/2012 11:07:52 AM

Turkey can be a regional super power if it stayed neutral in regional conflicts especially sectarian ones. They can be an elder brother who advise all with good intentions and solve the problems. But real problem started when Zero Problem FM and PM started to take sides on sectarian basis. In this they lost friends and made friendship with those who are already slaves of Europe and America. These countries are surviving on conflicts and wars. Wars are giving breathing space for these monarchs.

Red Tail

8/23/2012 10:23:54 AM

Good article. It shows what an enormous strategic mistake it was by the government to leave the EU track and instead try to becocome a regional super power with our brothers. We have seen it the last years with the PM and FM sitting on photos looking happy with all our totalitarian neighbours, but at the same time they were like outsiders when meeting EU. Then they always were rude, street fighter bravado style etc. Mr Gul, Babacan and Simsek should have been more involved. They are competent.
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