The EU anchor needs to be strengthened but…
When we visited the island last week together with the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), we saw closely that there was a new hope for peace in Cyprus. Both the economic bottleneck that the Greek side is in due to the 2008 global crisis and also the need for the major natural gas resources that were found in East Mediterranean have created a new opportunity. The Turkish side almost totally agrees that there has to be a solution now. The Greek side also looks much closer to a solution because of the difficulties experienced.
TÜSİAD, together with equivalent establishments in Greece, Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus issued a joint declaration inviting politicians to make use of the opportunity for peace and to achieve this as soon as possible.
In a private conversation with head of TÜSİAD Muharrem Yılmaz, he mentioned, alongside the economic and political advantages peace would bring to every segment, the new acceleration it would bring to Turkey’s EU target. There was an absolute need to re-accelerate the EU process, Yılmaz said, adding that a solution to the Cyprus problem would open Turkey’s way to the EU. It would be a development that would accelerate the relations.
As a matter of fact, Turkey needs its EU process to be accelerated maybe more than any other time in this last period. It looks as if the political crisis we are experiencing, the troubles emerging in economy will not be easily solved, moreover they look as if they are growing. Both the businessmen and the men on the street do not quite believe that things will calm down and there will be tranquility after the local elections, and also that the crisis within the state might be solved and justice would prevail.
In exactly such an era, it is definite that the need for an “EU anchor” both politically and economically has particularly increased. It could be said that because of the size and heat of internal issues, the government would not be able to accelerate the EU process. Moreover, it could be claimed that with the image of the government putting justice under the execution’s order with the last legal changes, the process would further slowdown. All of these assertions are correct but it is also definite that an EU anchor would be useful in the exit from this era.
The government also sees it but…
I assume that the government also sees this reality but it is doubtful how many steps it may take. We don’t even know how Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be met in his EU trip after the recent developments.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, in a weekend TV appearance, stated how important the EU process was for them, saying, “Because the EU process is a very important reference point from the perspective of Turkey’s economy, democracy and law system. The reference of our entire legal system is there. Not in the African Union or in Shanghai; in the European Union.”
When asked what the obstacles to Turkey’s becoming a rich country were, Babacan answered, “The principle of the rule of law is so important in that it is relevant to both economy and democracy.” I wish he could explain these to the prime minister, right?
In short, we need, more than at any other time, to embrace the EU anchor, both from the angle of economic welfare and also freedoms and democracy. However, in order to earn the EU anchor, we need to make these assertions. A government is needed that sees this reality sincerely, and one that prioritizes its people’s future not its own.