Erdoğan has no right to deprive Turkish people of EU membership

Erdoğan has no right to deprive Turkish people of EU membership

The year-long fight between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Fethullah Gülen community entered a new phase after the detentions of daily Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı and Samanyolu TV station editor Hidayet Karaca, along with more than two dozen others, mainly from the police department. Government officials repeatedly underline that this was a judicial process and has nothing to do with the government, but they are hardly convincing.

For many, the operation launched against the Gülen community on Dec. 14, only three days before marking the first anniversary of the commencement of a massive corruption and graft probe that dealt a huge blow to the government’s credibility, is a pure attempt to take revenge against its one-time closest ally.

One of the objectives of this operation would be to distract public attention from corruption-related developments on the first anniversary of Dec. 17 and to shift the country’s agenda to the so-called threats against national security. The detention of Dumanlı, the editor-in-chief of one of Turkey’s leading newspapers, would also serve to intimidate other dissident journalists, (while further damaging freedom of expression).

The operation would also help the government build its pre-election campaign once again, basing it on the fight against the so-called “parallel structure” by highlighting the Gülen community’s alleged threats against national security. From this perspective, one could argue that Dec. 14 marked the launching of the AKP’s election campaign, which will continue in due course with other waves of operations.

This is not the first time that the AKP has done something similar. It is just repetition of what it did before the March local elections. Citing a virtual threat against national security, the government imposed a blanket ban on Twitter, YouTube and other use of social media, while also amending a number of laws that would effectively end the implementation of the principle of separation of powers.

These moves have drawn serious criticism from the European Union and the United States, but this criticism has had little leverage on the government, because quarreling with the EU is in fact to the advantage of the AKP, whose grassroots feel no immediate need to reach contemporary democratic standards.

Erdoğan and the AKP government are doing the same thing again. They are wasting Turkey’s democratic achievements over the last two decades for their own domestic political purposes, at the expense of degrading the country’s status to a league of countries ruled by authoritarian leaders.

Turkey has become a country where media offices are raided, prominent journalists are arrested on arbitrary charges, the rule of law is often ignored, and democracy is under serious threat.

One of the few remaining links that connects Turkey to the real, contemporary world is the country’s direction toward EU membership. Erdoğan might feel that it’s useless, but he has no right to speak on behalf of the entire nation and its future generations. He does have no right to deprive the Turkish people of EU membership, even though this membership will not happen under his rule.