Formula from Derviş for EU membership

Formula from Derviş for EU membership

We have observed the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ankara Agreement between Turkey and the then European Economic Community (Common Market). 

Was there anybody remembering it? 

As a matter of fact, it was the Berlin-based think-tank European Stability Initiative (ESI) that reminded me the anniversary of the agreement signed on Sept. 12, 1963. 

The ESI, which has come up with the phrase “Islamic Kalvinists” in our economy literature to define the Anatolian Tigers from Kayseri, has examined Turkey-EU relationships under the title, “Happy Anniversary? EU-Turkey relations at age 50,” emphasized with a question mark. 

While the Europe of 50 years ago is viewed, the long way it has come along is impressive. 
At the beginning of the 1960s, there were fascists dictators ruling in Spain and Portugal and communist regimes in Central and Mid-Europe.
The Berlin Wall that separated the Germans had just been erected.

The Turkey of the 1960s was quite different than today’s.

While the literacy rate is down on the floor, life expectancy which is 74 today was only 48 years. 
However, while Europe and Turkey have each achieved huge transformations in their ways, those signatures signed 50 years ago remained only on paper. 

Turkey’s EU membership has become an “endless story.” It is a fact that as the engagement period is being prolonged, both sides have lost interest in each other. 

Now it is seldom that politicians or the media mention Turkey-EU relations. 

The “Institut du Bosphore” that the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) has set up in Paris with lobbying in mind at the EU, has organized a meeting in Istanbul, creating an opportunity to look into the dusted matter. 

In the meeting themed, “Europe-France-Turkey: Time to Make Choices,” several scenarios regarding Turkey’s EU membership were discussed. 

The reason France is one of the main actors of the theme of the meeting is because it has allowed a new chapter to be opened in Turkey-EU accession talks since 2010.

After France’s European Affairs Minister Thierry Repentin’s keynote speech, I think the real message of the meeting was given by Kemal Derviş, the co-chair of the institute’s scientific committee. 

Derviş who is also Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution is a person who believes in the European Union and a strong Europe. 

As he has strongly emphasized, if we do not want to see a world ruled by G2, in other words by the United States and China, then a strong Europe is for the advantage of everyone. 

Derviş, as many European intellectuals have been reiterating for years, said Europe will be stronger by including Turkey.

He has this formula for our EU membership: 

“Such a road can be followed for the EU-Turkey relations to acquire a new dynamic: Turkey, despite becoming a member, can stay out of the Eurozone. Just like the United Kingdom. Turkey would also not be included in the Schengen zone. However, Turkish businesspeople and Turkish investors should have the right of working and free circulation within the EU.” 

According to Kemal Derviş, if this formula is accepted by the sides, then it would be easier to build confidence between the two sides. 

Naturally, relations will strengthen. 

Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz, who also delivered a keynote speech together with the French Minister Repentin at the meeting of Institut du Bosphore, according to some French politicians who attended the meeting, came down quite harshly on Europe.

Hence, the question in my mind is this: Is Ankara ready to open a blank page with Derviş’s formula? Or not?