The forgotten agreement

The forgotten agreement

Thursday was the 50th anniversary of the Ankara Agreement signed aiming toward the accession of Turkey to the European Economic Community. Maybe only this is enough to demonstrate the stage this relationship has reached: There were no references at the Foreign Ministry and the President’s websites. At the EU Ministry’s website, which only has its name related to EU relations, there was no word on the subject either. 

This situation, symbolically, shows how much Turkey has diverted from its course. There is a legendary anecdote being rumored that belongs to 52 years ago. After the May 27 coup, the ex-president Celal Bayar, ex-Foreign Minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and a group of Democrat Party members are being taken to Yassıada (island) in a motorboat. Celal Bayar has turned to Zorlu to ask him, “Mr. Fatin, could you explain us this common market?” The person who has asked this and the one who has explained it upon demand are two politicians to be tried asking for death sentences. 

It could be said, “Well, Europe of that time and today do not have equal powers. Turkey has come a long way; the Europeans lacked the necessary foresight and were not able to approach this strong country with sincerity. Civilization and economic development no longer belong to the West only. At those times, Turkey was only eyeing the West, now it has 360 degrees of an angle in its relationship with the world.” It is correct but at the same time missing the point. 

There is a connection with the slackening of the EU relations and the fall in the quality of democracy in Turkey. The EU was, in fact, acting as an anchor regarding democracy in Turkey. At least, it had a function such as providing discipline, drawing the outline. 

Even though it is not easily possible to defend its continuation under today’s circumstances, the Customs Union has contributed a lot to companies in Turkey forcing them to upgrade their productions and due to this, for them to find new markets. Without even noticing, because of harmony with the EU standards, the Turkish society started meeting necessary circumstances for a more qualified life. Rule of law and the breeze of increasing transparency made Turkey more attractive regarding investments. As we drifted apart from the EU, as autonomous agencies were neutered, this appeal also decreased. 

It is not very meaningful to discuss, after this stage, who is responsible for the heavy coma situation the EU-Turkey relationship is in. The insincerity shown on the Cyprus issue even among those Turks who are extremely pro-EU, the stances and discourses of leading politicians of member countries have created a serious resentment and reaction. No chapter was left to open because of Cyprus’ or France’s blocking.

When viewed from the EU angle, there is a Turkey that is continuously loafing around after the pro-government domestic advantages of EU reforms have been expired. The content of the report prepared by former EU Ambassador to Ankara, Marc Pierini for the Carnegie Endowment titled, Individual Freedoms in Turkey, ( shows very well to what extent the space needed for liberal democracy in Turkey has been narrowed. An inconsiderate anti-Western stance is dominating the recent political discourse anyway. 

In foreign policy, the consequences of the loosening of the relations with the EU are also becoming clearer. Turkey is a country situated in the middle of three strategic eco-systems. It can achieve its internal and external equilibriums as much as it can balance the extent of its relations with these three eco-systems. Economic performance has been achieved with the contribution of the special conjuncture of the past 10 years. When the foreign policy prestige turned into a reckless ambition due to excessive enthusiasm, equilibriums went upside down, the prestige is losing ground fast. 

Evaluate the situation Turkey has found itself in Syria from this point of view. After that, pay tribute to the Democrat Party which filed the first application to the Common Market, and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) dominated coalition government which signed the Ankara Agreement for their foresights. 

Soli Özel is a columnist for daily HaberTürk in which this piece was published Sept. 13. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.