Can Turkey make it without the EU?
As expected by many, last week’s G-20 Summit failed to produce concrete steps to prevent the European debt crisis from further spreading. Overshadowed by political and economic turmoil in Greece and Italy, the summit that brought leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful countries together in Cannes demonstrated not only the unsustainability of today’s global economic order but also reflected the bleak future of the EU.
In Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a confidence vote to keep him in power, which followed a deal with the opposition parties to take the country to early elections in 2012.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, richest head of government in Europe whose name is frequently hitting the local and international headlines due to his vivid personal life, is passing through dire moments. For the moment, he ignores massive calls for his resignation although alarm bells are more powerfully ringing with Italy’s debt crisis further mounting.
There are concerns that economic contraction in these countries, as well as in Portugal, Spain and some others, can easily turn into a huge economic crisis hitting the entire continent and threatening the economic stability of the EU. As described by the Hürriyet Daily News last week, there are so many sick men in Europe who surely require intensive and durable care for recovery. In this sense, one can understand why Mustafa Koç, a leading Turkish businessman, apparently opposed Turkey’s accession to the EU, but of course to the “EU of today.”
With the collapse in European economics, we have been hearing more and more these kinds of comments from different segments of society, giving additional difficulties before an overall concentration on Turkey’s full membership negotiations.
Moreover, some Turkish politicians prefer to make fun of these countries and of the EU in general, completely forgetting about Turkey’s rising public deficit and, most importantly, the rising democratic deficit. Jeering at the EU and crisis-hit countries is the most wrong thing to do on Turkey’s behalf.
First and foremost, the EU is not only an economic ideal for Turkey but also a democratic one. Ignoring EU’s role in Turkey’s development in both areas and forgetting Turkish government’s decades-old struggle to integrate with the world’s leading international organization would lead us to a very erroneous analysis. Those who are in power now should accept the role of the EU in strengthening democratic norms through curbing the military’s influence in civilian politics.
Thinking that Turkey can make without EU in the future, given today’s economic and political situation, would be an example of narrow-sighted vision.
Instead, Turkey should do whatever it can to show solidarity with the crisis-hit EU countries, particularly with neighboring Greece, and prove that it will be an important partner for the EU in overcoming such current and future difficulties.