This time, in my editorial I would like to address the issue of EU-Turkey relations. Not the relationship between Turkey and individual European countries, but namely the relations of Turkey with the EU. For a long time, modern Turkey, founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was a beacon for many Muslim countries. Mustafa Kemal in fact did the impossible, he resurrected a dead man (because the “sick man of Europe” was de facto dead by 1920s), breathed new life into him. Turkey lived and developed with varying degrees of success. Turkish democracy suffered from military coups, from the fact that the illiterate or poorly educated people still accounted for quite a large percentage of the population. During the Cold War, Turkey has become a kind of battleground between West, represented primarily by the US, and East, represented by the Soviet Union. If the Soviets supported the left-wing youth organizations in Turkey, then the US and NATO countries sought to oppose them with nationalists, and then started playing footsie with moderate Islamists.
In 80s, Turkey, with input from the USSR, and later several European countries, was faced with aggressive Kurdish terrorism.
All this, of course, affected the Turkish democracy not in the best way.
In 1952, Turkey joined NATO. If we analyze the activity of Turkey in NATO we can conclude that Turkey has made a greater contribution than most of the European members of NATO that have much greater financial and technical capabilities, such as France or Germany. The fact that Turkey was in NATO has not prevented its allies from covertly establishing contacts with terrorists and separatists acting against Turkey.
In 1963, Turkey and the European Economic Community sign an Association Agreement. In 1987, Turkey applies for membership in the EU, while receiving the candidate status only in 1999. And the negotiations on Turkey’s full EU membership began in 2005.
It’s the end of 2016, but the issue of Turkey’s membership in the EU has not been resolved. Personally, I am against Turkey’s EU membership, the country does not have to be a member of the EU to successfully develop.
In 2002, the Justice and Development Party came to power in Turkey through democratic elections. If we analyze the work of the Turkish authorities, since 2002 up to November 2016, it can be concluded that the party, led by Erdogan, is pursuing a policy of the permanent Islamization of Turkey and is engaged in the systematic undermining of the foundations of the secular order in the country. These aspirations of the Turkish leadership have particularly intensified in the last few years. So far, the situation is not critical, but at this rate, it may reach a critical point before 2020.
It should be noted that Erdogan is not the first and not the only politician that uses religion for political purposes. However, such experiments are very dangerous and they usually have a short term “positive” effect for the authorities. And in the long term, this leads to a split in society, brain drain and, as a consequence, stagnation in the economy, culture, science, military, etc.
However, luckily for Europe, Erdogan, even after quite a long time of being in power, has not given up the idea of joining the EU. Instead of criticizing Erdogan and accusing him of neo-Ottomanism, autocracy and excessive Islamization, the European elite could meet Turkey halfway, not Erdogan, but Turkey, and admit the country as a member. For example, in 2011-12, if Turkey became a member of the EU in those years, Brussels could temper the desire for Islamization in Turkey, moreover, Turkey is Europe’s southern flank. And in approaching global battle of the worlds, Turkey within the EU would become a reliable bastion in the most critical region of the world.
However, the euro-politicians have chosen a different path, a path of populism and selfishness. Selfishness and sometimes even Islamophobia of European politicians does not allow them to look at the wider picture from the perspective of a statesman, and not from the standpoint of a self-obsessed egomaniac.
The EU’s dismissive attitude towards Turkey jeopardizes the EU itself in the first place. The EU countries have for many years cut their military expenditures and spending on border security, shifting these functions partly onto the shoulders of the United States, and partly leaving them to chance…
As a result, in the midst of a humanitarian crisis in the region and on the eve of the inevitable clash of civilizations, Europe is left without reliable armed forces (except, perhaps, the armed forces of the United Kingdom, citizens of which voted for Brexit) and without secure borders.
In current situation, instead of taking advantage of the Turkish power and trying to ensure the stability of the southern border and concurrently keeping Turkey from slipping into the arms of political Islam, European politicians with their foolish statements and actions antagonize the Turkish society, both its religious and secular part. I think it goes without saying that this will not lead to anything good.
Erdogan does not have Ataturk’s insight and lacks the strategic vision of Sultan Abdulhamid, in that sense he resembles the European elite that is criticizing him.
It is ironic that some representatives of the European political elite treat Vladimir Putin better than Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What is it? Is it the manifestation of Christian solidarity? Or is it “love” born of fear?
Moreover, some European politicians have agreed to impose sanctions against Russia not because of solidarity with Ukraine, but only after strong pressure from Washington.
The European Commission and the European Parliament criticize the Turkish authorities, accusing them of obstructing the freedom of speech and of mass violations, observed after the suppression of a coup attempt in Turkey. I will state upfront that there is some truth in that. Yes, indeed, there were and still are observed a number of violations during the suppression of the coup attempt and in the course of the investigation. Also, the government suspended the activities of several media outlets owned by the sect of Fethullah Gülen.
The gentlemen of the European Parliament must decide for themselves what is better: when a religious sect, by hook or by crook, for over 30 years, is trying to infiltrate the governmental bodies (judicial authorities, police, intelligence, MFA, army, courts, prosecutor’s office, higher education institutions) and simultaneously creates its media empire, or when the authorities are engaged in a purge and get rid of the representatives of the sect entrenched in the state apparatus, in the army, the courts, as well as in the media.
For me, the answer is self-evident. And the others can decide for themselves. If Erdogan hadn’t started to clean the state apparatus from the dominance of sectarian, then, under favorable circumstances, over time, Europe could get a sectarian leadership in Turkey, which would make Erdogan seem the sole support of secularity.
In its report of November 9, 2016, the European Commission criticizes Turkey for supporting Azerbaijan during the battles in Karabakh in April 2016. I wonder how the respected European Commission feels about the fact that the fighting took place exclusively in the territory of Azerbaijan and, from the opposite side, the Armenian Armed Force, armed by Russia, were involved. Besides, in the same report, the European Commission criticizes Turkey for the fact that Ankara has signed a military pact with Georgia and Azerbaijan. I’m assuming that people who have included it in the report are either just interns killing time in the European Commission’s office, or Russia’s active intelligence activities have yielded positive results and the Kremlin has managed to get the right people into the European Commission, in order to influence the policy of the EU to their advantage. I’m sorry, but I have no other explanation for this nonsense.
In summary, I want to stress that the EU, through the fault of its insecure and selfish elite, missed a unique, historic opportunity. The negative consequences of this oversight will be felt even more with each passing year, but that ship has sailed and, judging by the events taking place in the region, there isn’t going to be a next one…