Turkey, EU at crossroads

Turkey, EU at crossroads

The foreign ministers of European Union countries are going to meet. The southeastern Mediterranean related tensions, developments related to the Varosha, undertakings of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot governments on Cyprus, and the push by Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and France for the imposition of sanctions on Turkey are on the agenda. At the last minute, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the problems to be resolved through dialogue, but the situation is bad as the train of the European Union-Turkey relationship has long left the station of trust and is progressing on a course of confrontation. Of course, Turkey is an important country. Turkey is a country that can be both a natural bridge and a buffer for migration paths to Europe from countries in its east, especially for millions of Syrian refugees. It is a very productive market for Europe with its rich resources, significant economic capacity and a lucrative market with a population of 83 million people despite current hardships.

Except for Greece and the Greek Cypriot leadership, even France, European ministers will have to make a decision. Will they allow the EU to be used as a lever for the interests of Greek Cypriots and Greece? After all, it has been repeatedly seen that sanctions have not been effective ever. On the other hand, even Germany complains that it is running out of patience to reconcile with Turkey. In short, these two days will be very important and perhaps may lay down a new roadmap for Turkey-EU relations.

Finally TRNC has a government

This article was penned at the time when a three-way coalition government supported by three independent deputies was not yet completed. Mesut Genç, Hasan Topal and Hasan Büyükoglu, who were the former deputies of the People’s Party (HP), have resigned from their seats. The National Unity Party (UBP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Rebirth Party (YDP) have signed a coalition protocol. The three “new independent” deputies have declared they will support this coalition of three MPs. A government with a 27-seat majority has become possible in the 50-seat parliament. Thus a period of interregnum continuing since Ersin Tatar was elected the president and left the prime ministry on Oct. 18 has come to an end. How long the coalition will survive? Probably only a few months as there is already an agreement to take the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to an early election “as soon as possible.” Elections might be held as early as February or March 2021.

Many people, including this writer, have no objection to the formation of a three-way government supported by independent deputies. The TRNC should not have been left without a government. Two rounds of talks by two big parties, the UBP and the socialist Republican Turks’ Party (CTP), failed to produce a government with a sound parliamentary majority. Does anyone remember the Freedom and Democracy Party (ÖRP) established by deputies from the UBP and the DP in 2007? That party managed to end the CTP-DP government, kicked Serdar Denktaş out of government, and rocked the foundations of democracy in northern Cyprus. Right, Denktaş was not wanted in government at the time, but such a manipulation landed Turkish Cypriot politics in a crisis, the aftershocks of which could be seen even today.

Now, there is no evidence that the three HP deputies resigned so that they could support a three-way coalition that some gentlemen in Ankara believe suits well to their plans. There is no such evidence. On the other hand, a resignation, which is of course a choice, is a sign of good behavior. Its justification should satisfy the public and should not lead to suspicions or manipulations.

Yet, the timing of the resignations of these three deputies is very interesting, which is just after the UBP decided to form a minority government with the DP and YDP and on the day when UBP’s acting Chairperson Ersan Saner was slated to be designated to form a new government. Besides, the three-way coalition would need just three deputies to have a majority in parliament.