Europe’s political leverage in jeopardy

Europe’s political leverage in jeopardy

You may not find it funny but the Social Science students in the Latvian capital Riga laughed a lot. When asked to Egemen Bağış, European Union affairs minister in the Turkish cabinet, where would Turkey go if the EU rejected to take Turkey in.

“To Disneyland” Turkish Minister joked. But that was not all. More came from Professor Daunis Aures, according to the Anatolia Agency. “Go to the one in the United States” he advised students, “The one in Europe is terrible.”

Bağış is one of the strongest advocates of Turkey’s integration to the European club and his teasing of the situation could be regarded as a jibe at the EU’s current political credibility and leverage at least in Turkish eyes.

In an interview with the Financial Times last week the Turkish President was subtly doing the same thing when he drew attention to the fact that Turkey’s economic indicators match to the EU’s Maastrict cirteria - a must to be a part of the eurozone - better than many members of the Union.

This is not good for Turkish democracy. Because the effect of criticism on the flaws of the system, like the one made by the Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle earlier this week to Bağış about the arrests of publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Professor Büşra Ersanlı with accusations of encouraging terrorism, lowers it more than before. Turkey has already announced that it will not recognize the term presidency of the Greek Cyprus Republic in 2012 and will not establish political contacts with the EU under Nicosia.

EU’s political leverage seems to be in decline in parallel to its economic performance. And it’s not valid only for Turkey.

Its political credibility in the Balkans, in the Middle East situation, in the problems of the Caucasus are going south, which may negatively affect the already fragile stability in those regions since the hope was to be a counterbalance for the U.S., Russia and China. The performance of the EU countries during the Arab Spring has been, at least colorless.

George Soros, the money wizard had advised the EU two months ago when the Greek crisis was not at this level that the best way to save the eurozone and the future of EU was to put Greece and Portugal out.

And have a look at the situation now. Greece and Italy, whose ancient cultures inspired democracy (a Greek word) into the world, are to be run by technocrats because elected governments failed to run the country properly. As the prime minister of an EU country, the first thing George Papandreou did after awful austerity measures dictated by the International Money Fund was to fire top military commanders with fear of being toppled by a coup d’etat. But he was toppled by another coup, by the financiers of Greek’s new economy program. In Italy, the stock exchange had a small party when Silvio Berlusconi announced that he was not going to go into elections again and ready to leave his chair to another technocrat.

Yesterday, the Portuguese Parliament started to discuss austerity measures; they are the new candidates for the headlines.

Perhaps we should just sit in front of our TV screens and watch, instead of bothering to go to Disneyland