EP’s Turkey decision destructive, unfair

EP’s Turkey decision destructive, unfair

There is a certain type of politicians in Europe. Without having a background or expertise in international relations, they are making important decisions based on their local political concerns. Unfortunately these kinds of decisions may have heavy consequences for their countries as well as others. The decision of the European Parliament to suggest suspending membership negotiations with Turkey reflects this attitude. The decision is alienating Turkey, which is a very important partner for European security, and it is deepening distrust between the two sides.

First of all, a question needs to be asked: Which European interest is this decision serving for? Is the goal improving relations with Turkey and protecting the interests of the EU, or punishing Turkey and the Turkish nation? Is the European Parliament putting itself in place of the Turkish nation and trying to manage Turkish politics? Has the European Parliament evaluated the consequences of this decision well enough?

In the voting in Strasbourg, 370 of 622 parliamentarians voted for the suspension of membership talks with Turkey. Only 109 said “no.” Kati Piri, the EU rapporteur for Turkey who prepared the report, said “apart from the clearly autocratic nature of the recently introduced presidential system, which lacks the necessary democratic checks and balances, it is impossible to ignore the further regression of the rule of law with over 50,000 people, including journalists, politicians and human rights defenders, still in jail since the attempted coup and 150,000 civil servants dismissed without proper legal procedures.” Last year she suggested that if the constitutional change gets implemented, talks should be suspended. This approach is impertinently questioning the national will of the Turkish people who voted for the change and accepted the result.

Is the way by which Turkey is being ruled being determined in Strasbourg? This is nothing but the 1919 Paris Peace Conference’s colonialist approach. Piri is not Gertrude Bell and Turkey is not the Ottoman Empire under occupation. Neither the European Parliament nor any state or international organization has the right to question Turkey’s initiatives about its system of government. This was the behavior of the victorious powers after the Great War. They paid a heavy price during World War II.

Another problem of this EP decision is that it underlines Europe’s double standards against Turkey that everybody is familiar with. What is happening in Turkey should be analyzed carefully in order to present a fair and true criticism on human rights and democracy issues. Members of FETÖ spied against Turkey, fired at civilians and bombed parliament. Officers in the army confessed that they belonged to the terrorist network, that they had codenames and a parallel communications network and even got orders from civilians without a rank in the army. Is this possible in a European army? Officers with codenames? Could Turkey tolerate that?   

In 2016 Turkey suffered a wave of terrorist attacks, a military coup attempt and an uprising initiated by the PKK terrorist organization. By ignoring those extraordinary conditions, the European Parliament’s criticisms cannot be considered fair. Criticisms using the rhetoric of terrorist networks and the architects of a failed military coup attempt cannot be considered in good faith.

This approach will not contribute to human rights, democracy and freedom in Turkey. Unfortunately Piri lost her fairness and impartiality in this regard long ago.

The European Parliament is in deep conflict with the principles it defends. Has the European Parliament initiated a campaign against German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron in the name of human rights and democracy against their participation in a congress in Egypt where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi built his government on a bloody military coup? In October German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Egypt as a role model for stability in the Middle East, praising the African country’s “leading role” in development and combating terrorism and illegal immigration. Has the European Parliament called Merkel and Macron to account for this?

Has the European Parliament campaigned for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont? What was the level of criticism against Spain for their attitude on this issue?

Membership talks between Turkey and the EU had already been stalled by Sarkozy and Merkel long ago. Although Turkey supported the Annan Plan for Cyprus in 2004 and Turkish Cypriots accepted the plan to reunite the island, Greek Cypriots blocked it and the EU sided with the Greeks. Since then, it has been hard to talk about progress between Turkey and the EU.

The only idea in the decision that is worth considering is the European Parliament’s recommendation to look for a different partnership model. This can be discussed seriously. But this should be brought to the agenda without any prejudices. This can be discussed on a rational ground without ideological baggage to find common interests. 

Apart from this, the European Parliament’s decision is destructive and unfair. No party can make a win out of that. During the refugee wave in 2015 Turkey helped the EU control the migrant flow. Turkey is critical for European security and welfare. The EU is an important partner for Turkey. Unfortunately, many European parliamentarians are not aware of these facts and, with their irresponsible decisions, are deepening the distrust.