Is it only the EU report that was thrown into the waste basket?
The behavior of Professor Burhan Kuzu, the head of Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, displayed over the latest EU progress report, has tremendous symbolism regarding the course of Turkey-EU relations. In the negative sense, of course.
During a live broadcast on CNN Türk, Professor Kuzu said: “This is a report to be thrown in the trash. There is no trash can here, so I’m throwing it on the floor.” He threw the report on the floor, saying: “Here, I’m throwing it into the trash.”
Kuzu is the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) Istanbul deputy and a professor. He has a strong position as the head of the Constitution Commission.
This behavior from the head of the Commission will probably seriously shake the positive expectations existing in the Western world (and in the EU progress report) about Turkey’s ability to write a new constitution, above all through dialogue and in the spirit of consensus.
First, let me highlight a contradiction: The report thrown into the waste basket does mention “progress,” even though it has some fierce criticism in certain chapters. The text contains particularly positive assessments in many fields, from the strengthening of Turkey’s role in the international arena to the achievements recorded by the country’s economy. When this aspect of the report is considered, one cannot say that the reaction shown to it was very balanced.
The truly sad aspect is that such reactions disregard the fact that there is no homogenous texture in Europe on the topic of Turkey. As a matter of fact, the European Commission that prepared the report is actually the side that wants to liven up the accession process with Turkey, and also the one that has put pressure on the EU’s political wing in this direction. What kind of logic can attacking an ally this way - falling below the minimum criteria of respect - contain?
Today, within the EU, there are those who are trying their hardest to keep Turkey outside the union, as well as a strong political will that sincerely puts forward efforts to include Turkey within Europe. Moreover, now that the Socialists have taken power in France there are serious signs that the accession talks will be accelerated. This being the case, what is the point of strengthening the hands of anti-Turkish segments in Europe?
One of the most significant outcomes of this show is that one more heavy blow has been inflicted, after the dominant discourse and images at the last major congress, on the credibility of the AK Party with regard to its EU target. Consider those who believed that the AK Party had never truly adopted the EU and that it was using it only for tactical purposes for its own political interests, or those who simply had a skeptical view on this subject. Now, will they be wrong in thinking that they were right?
The most important residue this incident will leave is a perception of Turkey where a mentality of throwing EU reports to the waste basket is becoming more dominant, and where divergent stances are not tolerated.
This perception will cause the view in every segment, either pro or con, of the West to gain ground that such a Turkey does not have a place in the future of Europe and that it is best for its own interests that Turkey sails alone in the third-world neighborhood it is located in.
Indeed, there is also an ironic side to the issue. The AK Party owes, to a significant extent, the political command it possesses today to its own efforts, as well as to the EU in terms of international support. In that sense, the EU has provided vital support to the ruling party, especially during the period between 2002 and 2008. How quickly we have forgotten that not so long ago, only five years ago, the AK Party found the EU its number one ally during its (party) closure case?
Europeans, for whom the waste basket is considered the proper place, are probably thinking today that gratitude is not the strongest virtue of the AK Party.
Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Oct. 18. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.