ALI – A decade of the EU membership process

A decade of the EU membership processTen years ago on this day, the European Union decided to start membership talks with Turkey at a summit in Brussels. With an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament (EP) supported Turkeyand#39s prospective membership and this voting session effectively served as a response to the argument that the European people did not want Turkey.

Friends of Turkey were excited, believing that the country would develop and make progress in democratic consolidation under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration. The leftist, liberal, green and conservative democrats of Europe dreamed that the EU would embrace the Middle East as well through Turkeyand#39s membership and that the EU would serve as a major project of peace in the region.

The same excitement was also observed in Turkey. The EU was peace for the Kurds, social rights for labor unions, democracy and freedom of thought for intellectuals and welfare and modern life for the people.

AKP figures were aware of the mood and paid great attention to the EU membership process, which was converted into a state policy by Bulent Ecevit and Mesut YIlmaz in Helsinki.Ten years later, the EU process is effectively a disappointment.

Regarding the recent operation violating press freedom, President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan made a statement where he said he did not care whether or not the EU admits Turkey based on this operation this statement sheds light on the current stalemate in the relations. It is simply ridiculous to talk about membership or negotiations.

It is also pretty clear that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and ErdoIan, who are actually opposed to Turkeyand#39s membership in the EU, have attained their goals.The political analysts who held constructive views on Turkeyand#39s membership 10 years ago argued that the AKP was a democratic and conservative political party that was able to bring religious people to the political stage.

But 10 years later, there is only a party with a culture of one single man and a reign of intimidation this party has no political project and seems to serve as the Turkish representative of Muslim Brotherhood.Currently, the AKP is giving the impression that it is an election association that fails to investigate corruption charges against its members, acts decisively to avoid judicial review and suspends all legal institutions.

There is no sign of the AKP that was able to offer a hand to liberal and left-wing groups 10 years ago and there is a political party that has strong disagreements with conservative groups as well.Ten years later, Turkey is no longer discussed in Brussels and Strasbourg as a candidate country.

It is being viewed as a country where human rights are violated, journalists are arrested and press freedoms are extensively restricted. Turkey has returned to the 1990s where the state was authoritarian and under military tutelage.

Ten years ago, Turkey was a popular country whose role as mediator was sought in disputes in different regions, including Iran, the Balkans, Palestine, the Caucasus and Afghanistan. It was a NATO country whose constructive role was an asset.

Now it is a country that has strong disagreements with the West and has no envoys in many Arab capitals in the Middle East.The start of membership talks with the EU 10 years ago was a clear answer to the question about where Turkey was heading.

For economy and business circles, a Turkey integrated with the EU was attractive because of promising economic and political stability. Turkey was on its way to becoming an effective actor in international relations and regional affairs in the Middle East.

The EU process also proved that democracy was possible to achieve in a Muslim country. Turkey was a model back then.

Ten years later, it is no longer possible to offer an answer to the question about where Turkey is heading. Under ErdoIanand#39s rule, Turkey has become a country where corruption is not considered a huge crime, waste is seen as normal and a discourse of hate is regarded as normal.

Did ErdoIan and Sarkozy attain their goals? No. Ekrem DumanlI and the Zaman daily are not alone.

Turkish people will not give up on democracy, peace and the future of their children as well as the EU membership process.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman