Erdoğan’s major strike might come in Brussels

Erdoğan’s major strike might come in Brussels

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be visiting Brussels, the heart of the European Union, next Tuesday, Jan. 21. If he doesn’t hold his temper, and if he takes Yiğit Bulut with him, he might break that heart.

Erdoğan has not been to Brussels since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) diverted from the European Union route. It has been five years. In the meantime, the EU has increased its criticisms of Turkey.

The leaders of the second biggest group in European Parliament, such as Hannes Swoboda and other leaders of the social democratic wing, have stated that what Erdoğan has said about the graft operations is nonsense, and that his parallel state claims are not plausible.

Erdoğan has been backed into a corner because the AK Party has been completely driven away on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) matter, with it trying to take the judiciary under political control. Every step it has taken has further messed everything up and eventually Erdoğan has been forced to take a step back. He will be sweating under the EU’s clear and harshly critical tone of the government’s intervention in the judiciary.

In Brussels, Erdoğan will meet the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and the European Parliament President Martin Schulz. The chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Elmar Brok, the co-chair of the delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Helene Flautre, and the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, will also participate in these meetings.

All of them will tell Erdoğan, “The road you have taken is not a road; your target is not Europe anyway.” Yiğit Bulut, the person who said two days ago that foreign powers like the EU were “trying to execute Erdoğan,” and who before that, again claimed that foreign powers were trying to kill the prime minister through telekinesis, is now the chief advisor to the prime minister.

In his most recent column, the same Yiğit Bulut wrote the following: “Even though the game is crystal clear, it is not easy to share with the Turkish people that we should totally separate from Europe.” According to Erdoğan’s chief advisor, Turkey is an alternative to the EU. The time is now right to break Turkey off from Europe.

His column ends like this: “Turkey should rapidly question its ties with Europe, and in the event that the EU continues its policy of deception, Turkey should do what it has to do and very clearly give the message to the world public that it is not a part of ‘Europe’s bad fate.’”

Erdoğan is going to Brussels in this psychological climate. He does not speak the language of diplomacy anyway. We have seen how he talks when his nerves are stretched. In such an event, an Erdoğan who has caught the opportunity to “break away” with Europe, unfortunately, is in a mood where he would seize it quite rapidly and with much enthusiasm.

There are obvious underachievements in the AK Party’s European policies, both those that have derailed the European Turkey from the EU route and those of former EU Minister Egemen Bağış, one of the four Cabinet ministers involved in the ongoing graft operation. It is also obvious that AK Party does not need the EU process anymore.

Then it comes to the proper question: Does Erdoğan plan to strike the major blow in Brussels?

Koray Çalışkan is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published Jan 17. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.