ALI – Juncker’s Twitter remark should be taken seriously

Juncker’s Twitter remark should be taken seriouslyThe election of Jean-Claude Juncker — who made headlines in Turkey and Europe after his remark “A country that bans Twitter has no place in the European Union” — as president of the European Commission (EC) has been a difficult process. We could say that this election has been a symbol of some important shifts in many respects in EU history.

For the first time, an EC president will be elected despite the objections of a significant EU member (Britain), as well as Hungary. Juncker will have the support of the remaining 26 members and will be elected by the European Parliament.

This is important because for the first time, the member states will make the decision by a majority vote, not a unanimous vote. Likewise, for the first time in EU history, an EC president was nominated as a candidate before the European elections, and this took place by popular vote, rather than behind closed doors.

The election of Juncker despite objections from Britain is not attributable to the qualities of the candidate and his weight within the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party alone. Because Juncker won the elections, he attracted the support of socialists and liberals within the European Parliament, who considered his candidacy as a matter of democracy.

In other words, the member states made this decision knowing that an alternative candidate would not attract the support of the majority in the parliament. With the election of Juncker, we can now say that the EU has a more democratic image.

Institutionally, the European Parliament has done something new with the election of Juncker It will no longer be easy for member states to block the election of a candidate whose nomination is sealed by prior elections. In addition, the attitude of the parliament with regard to democracy and fundamental rights will directly affect the EC.

We may therefore say that the division of labor — where the parliament is responsible for democracy and human rights and the EC for trade — is no longer applicable. For this reason, it would be wrong to believe that Juncker’s remark on the Twitter ban will remain a matter of the election campaign and will not have a later impact.

Juncker, who served as the prime minister of Luxemburg for almost two decades, actually wanted to become president of the European Council, rather than of the EC. His appointment was vetoed by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy due to fears that he might block French initiatives.

Having served as chair of the Eurogroup meetings of EU finance ministers for the last eight years, Juncker is one of the politicians who is the most knowledgeable about EU affairs. I had the chance of hearing him directly when he delivered a speech as a guest speaker to the Greens bloc in the European Parliament there is no doubt that he has a broad political horizon.

We may say that he is the strongest candidate to serve as the successor of Jacques Delors, who left indelible marks in Brussels.If we discuss the question about what Juncker’s election will bring for Turkey other than the expectation that greater emphasis will be placed upon democracy and fundamental rights, the Turkish press have argued that the Greeks are pleased with his election.

It should be noted that their satisfaction with Juncker’s election may be associated with the inevitable solidarity between small members in the EU. Juncker is not unfamiliar with this sort of solidarity however, this does not necessarily mean that he will not consider the EU in broader terms.

I believe that he is smart enough to see that the Cyprus issue is an internal matter within the EU which should be evaluated independently from Turkey’s potential membership.I do not believe that he will pay attention to Turkey’s membership bid.

During the election campaign, he said the issue would not come to the fore in his office term This suggests that Juncker will focus on domestic matters and enlargement policy. A new process may start with Juncker with respect to the negotiations because I think that everybody would agree that it is not acceptable to keep the chapter on justice and fundamental rights closed despite strong progress made by Turkey with regard to democracy and the rule of law.

Perhaps Turkey’s greatest disaantage is the deterioration of relations with the Christian democrat circle which is the most influential actor in European politics. Who has Juncker’s phone number in Ankara? We know that he has friends in Greek Cyprus.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman