Why Turkey is right for hitting the EU
Turkey experienced its gravest coup attempt on July 15, with the Gülenist plotters hitting the Turkish parliament, main state premises, raiding state and private media outlets and worst, opening fire on civilians, killing around 250 persons. Turkey could barely escape the seizure of power by this group, whose estimated plans were to turn the country into a new Syria by provoking armed clashes between the police and the army and within the army itself.
Turkey’s people and politics managed to stand united on that night and in the following days, injecting hopes for an end to continued polarization in the country. The opposition parties came together in both condemnation of the coup attempt and efforts to undertake constitutional changes to avoid future attempts.
The government declared a state of emergency and issued two decree laws to dismiss Gülenist officers from the army, expand the duration of pre-trial detention to 30 days and pledge some powers to the judges and prosecutors dealing with the coup case.
Except for the detention of some journalists who were not involved in Gülenist activities, the government is seemingly trying not to derail the post-coup process while concerns that it could turn the heat on other opponents are still there. It will be our duty to watch the process carefully and urge the government to respect universal human rights and rule of law.
In this respect, it’s timely to underline that the detention of some journalists who were not involved in Gülenist activities should be criticized and advise the government to pay the utmost attention in distinguishing between those who are suspected of guilt and the innocent.
At that point, one questions the international community’s reflection on what’s going on here. It’s been two weeks since the coup attempt and Ankara received so far only one international guest: U.K. EU Minister Alan Duncan.
During an interview with Hürriyet Daily News, U.K. Ambassador to Ankara Richard Moore told me that the last time the U.K. House of Commons was bombed it was done by Adolph Hitler. In Turkey’s case, it was by a Gülenist junta within the Turkish army full of anti-democratic motivations.
Obviously, under these circumstances, the Turkish government sought strong and genuine support and solidarity from its Western partners.
A member of NATO since 1952, a negotiating candidate country of the EU since 1999 and a founding member of the Council of Europe and so many other European institutions, Turkey will continue to be a part of Europe and cooperate for the peace and security of the continent, regardless of how its accession process develops.
However, it’s getting clearer that the support and solidarity Turkey is seeking from EU will not be given entirely, except for a few genuine allies of the country. One example I can mention:
On July 18, the EU Foreign Affairs Council convened in Brussels under the leadership of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, only three days after the coup attempt. As the council decided to discuss the coup attempt and its aftermath, the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom and Netherlands proposed to invite Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to the meeting as well. Very surprisingly, the proposal was rejected by some member countries, showing the unwillingness to listen to what happened in Turkey from a senior Turkish leader.
Having spoken to Çavuşoğlu on July 29 on this issue, I observed the government’s disappointment with token gestures from its Western partners.
“It seems they don’t want to be engaged in dialogue and they don’t want to get first-hand information,” Çavuşoğlu said, criticizing them for leaving themselves to the misdirection of the European press, which has long been fueling xenophobia, Islamophobia and all sorts of radicalism. According to the minister, this causes serious erosion in mainstream European politics, to the advantage of extremist politicians in Europe.
“Instead of being engaged in dialogue, getting in close contact with us and helping us carry on this process in a transparent way, what we are constantly subject to is just attacks. It’s as if the coup plotters are clean and this government is too bad,” the minister stressed. “This is the government fighting against the coup plotters but it’s still this government who is guilty.”
Despite all this, there is still time for the EU to show up and exert efforts to try to better understand what really happened on July 15.