Turkey still has friends in EU but needs real pro-EU leaders
Two real architects of the June 25 deal between Turkey and the European Union to overcome the “chapter crisis” were Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.
Both worked hard not to let Turkey’s already long-dormant EU accession process be fully suspended, which could have serious consequences on Turkey’s relations with European countries.
They were joined by Italian, British, Swedish, Polish and some other countries foreign ministers, along with Catherine Ashton and Stefan Füle, who firmly stood against Chancelor Angela Merkel’s plans to veto the opening of a new chapter.
They underlined the fact that relations with Turkey could not be sacrificed although its current government’s undemocratic and brutal response to the demonstrators could not be left unanswered. But vetoing the opening of the chapter would mean punishing the Turkish people as the government could perfectly well live with it and even try to capitalize on it for domestic political gains on the eve of elections.
If the chapter had been vetoed, there is no doubt that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would present this act as the continuation of the international plot started by the Gezi Park protests against his government. This plot was to stop Turkey’s march toward the EU and challenging its current heavyweight, Germany, with its growing economy and dynamic, young population. The interest lobby was set to make a huge profit out of this crisis with the EU as a result of joint plans of internal and external adversaries of the government. The media was certain to be involved with this plan, with a BBC Turkish reporter spying for the United Kingdom until her undercover activities were discovered by the talented Ankara Mayor.
Given the current political climate in this country, it’s for sure that Turkey and the Turkish people need the EU more. The absence of the EU leverage would risk the democratic achievements of Turkey, particularly in the last 10 years of this government.
Just to give one example; if Turkey solved one of its biggest problems through the “zero-tolerance against torture policy” as part of EU reforms, it’s also possible to leave another problem behind through “zero tolerance against police violence” again by the EU process.
That’s why those who worked for avoiding a crisis between Turkey and EU deserve praise and applause from both Turks and Europeans. These European politicians have proven once again that Turkey still has friends on the European continent. But it has also been proven that Turkey really needs “pro-EU leaders and politicians” if it does genuinely want to join the club. Among many other priorities for establishing a healthier and more stable relationship with the EU, this need stands at the top of the list. Otherwise this relation will always continue to be on a knife edge as a candidate country, Turkey’s accession process will not be sustainable given the increasingly undemocratic and intolerant approach of its current leaders.