Requiem for the Turkey-EU story?
The European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee has called for the suspension of Turkey's accession talks to the European Union. One wonders why it is the Foreign Affairs Committee making decisions about a candidate country. Daily Sabah reports in its article Requiem for the Turkey-EU story? that Turkey does not consider the EU a foreign policy issue, but an internal affair and expects the same from the EU.
The EU perhaps thinks the accession process is a domestic issue for candidate countries, but these countries' situations and their efforts to meet the European criteria are only a foreign affair to them. The candidate countries are expected to adopt the EU's rules and regulations without questioning them, but it appears one must not expect the EU to do anything to facilitate the process.
We know the parliamentary committee's decision is not binding, and fortunately it was not unanimous. No matter what, we have to admit that those who recommended the suspension of the negotiation process represent a noticeable segment of the European public.
To be honest, very few chapters remain for the EU and Turkey to negotiate anyway. A number of chapters are currently being blocked by some EU countries, many of which use the Cyprus issue or some other problems as a pretext to refuse Turkey's accession. As for other chapters, it is necessary to negotiate them only if Turkey will one day actually join the EU. Turkey naturally does not want to adopt the EU's economic regulations without having a clear road for accession.
That is the real problem. The EU is unable to offer Turkey an accession perspective. This lack of vision is not new; however, it has deepened. A number of EU countries think Turkey will be nothing but a burden for the EU, and ask it to behave like an EU member without officially being a member. They have invented ambiguous concepts such as privileged partnership or special membership, but they never answered why Turkey should accept these half-measures and agree to turn into a buffer zone between Europe and the East.
The EU has dithered about Turkey for a very long time. When Turkey noticed that membership was not certain even if it adopts all the criteria, the country's political and economic reforms slowed down. Then came the coup attempt, and the country entered a climate making it practically impossible to make reforms related to the EU. The EU even missed the chance to condemn the coup properly and to reiterate that no country under a military regime can become member.
To refuse Turkey by saying that it does not belong in Europe is only preventing Turkey from adopting European values, such as the rule of law, democracy and pluralism, as its own. The EU first pushes Turkey out, and then blames it for drifting away.
Not only the Eastern European countries, but countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s also benefited from the European anchor to consolidate their democracies. The EU could do the same for Turkey. Many EU countries have improved their democracies thanks to the advantages arising from being a member state. Turkey expected the same.
In today's Europe, the extreme right is becoming stronger with every passing day, and they naturally don't have a positive approach toward candidate countries or peoples they consider as "other." The problem is, those who do not want Turkey today will also refuse others in the near future. Under these circumstances, one would expect the European Parliament to play a positive role, mending the gap between people. It is time to bring people together around common values. The European Parliament should reinforce peoples' mutual sympathies, not animosities.