Turkish EU minister slams Hahn of acting like ‘colonial governor’

Turkish EU minister slams Hahn of acting like ‘colonial governor’

Hande Fırat - ANKARA
Turkish EU minister slams Hahn of acting like ‘colonial governor’

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EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn should stop acting like a “colonial governor” and instead mind his own business by enhancing the enlargement processes of candidate countries, Turkish EU Minister Ömer Çelik has said in response to Hahn’s remarks that prospected constitutional changes in Turkey would make the country’s accession to EU “unrealistic.”  

“It is not the EU’s commissioner for enlargement who will decide whether Turkey will undergo a system change. He should not forget this: He is the enlargement commissioner of a union based on political values. He should not fancy himself as a colonial governor. I think he misunderstands his position,” Çelik told daily Hürriyet in an interview on March 21. 

Çelik’s words came after Hahn told German media that the prospect of Turkey joining the EU is becoming “more and more unrealistic.” He said he could not rule out that the EU may soon stop accession talks with Turkey and that a continuation of those talks was only possible if there are “substantial advances in the area of the rule of law.” But the authoritarian course of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the planned constitutional changes toward a presidential system represented “a departure from Europe,” he added. 

However, what Turkey and the EU are going through is a not crisis between the two sides but just a reflection of the crisis of values being witnessed inside the European continent, according to Çelik. 

“European integration might have been possible by turning crises into opportunities in the past. This is the first time that they failed to turn the economic and migrant crises into opportunities,” Çelik said, adding that the EU also failed to upgrade its political values in this period. 

“The commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy cannot introduce any positive agenda with respect to his own domain. And this is not only about Turkey but also on Balkan countries. However, he is specifically producing anti-Turkey sentiment. I made these warnings again and again. This person is responsible for enlargement, but he brings his ideological prejudices against Turkey to the fore. And he acts like the commissioner responsible for preventing enlargement,” he stated.  

‘Spokesperson for Austrian FM’

Recalling that Hahn was from Austria whose leaders are heavy Turkey-skeptics, Çelik accused the commissioner of acting like the spokesperson of the Austrian foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz. “He cannot repeat the views [on Turkey’s membership] of Austria as the enlargement commissioner. He is not the spokesman of the Austrian foreign minister but he speaks like him. The statements of the Austrian Foreign Ministry are xenophobic and Islamophobic,” he said. 

Cutting accession talks with Turkey is not Hahn’s business, Çelik said.  

Hahn’s reaction to the July 2016 coup attempt was also not appropriate, the minister said, underlining that his first statement was a replica of the members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) who claimed that the government already had a detention list in their hands. 

Hahn also cannot talk about Turkey’s president in this fashion and cannot make statements that are not line with political ethics, the minister said. “I don’t think he read the constitutional amendments and understood them.” 

“It’s the Turkish people who will decide whether to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum. We won’t accept such an intervention against our national will. These interventions are undemocratic and will distance them from European values. We are warning European progressives and democratic people. Let’s protect Europe from this danger. This is necessary for Turkey’s national interests and Europe’s democratic future,” he added.