BERIL – Is Turkey anti-EU?

Is Turkey anti-EU?The presidentand#39s latest declarations about the EU have worried more than many. First, those who once supported the governing party just because of its pro-EU stance have accused the government of not respecting its promises.

These people are often from the most Westernized and secular segments of society, even though all of them are not democratic or pluralist. They worry about the eventual interruption of the EU process, not because they like Europeans that much but because they fear the alternative to the EU will be a more Middle Eastern Turkey.

Then there are these groups who support the EU process only because they believe it is the best way to preserve their group identity. These are mostly Kurdish or Alevi, and they believe the eventual end of the EU process will be disastrous for their expectations.

However, the EU process is most of all about individualsand#39 rights, and in exchange, everyone should equally respect the EUand#39s core values such as transparency and the rule of law. In other words, if the Kurdish political movement supports the EU process, it will have to become transparent as well.

That means it will have to fight against the clan system, smuggling and money laundering. The impression, however, is that some people within the Kurdish movement believe decentralization will help them maintain their existing andldquoparticularandrdquo ties.

The central government suspects that some Kurds mention the EU process only because they believe it will help them preserve their local privileges, and prevent them from giving accounts to the central government about the regionand#39s money traffic. This has obviously nothing to do with what the EU is about.

The general elections are approaching and the government doesnand#39t believe it necessary to engage in comprehensive reforms right now. First of all, the EU is not a priority for the partyand#39s main supporters, ie, the conservative and pious people.

Besides, the EU is not encouraging Turkey either So the president doesnand#39t feel the need to promote the EU accession process.One may say one can adopt euroskeptic rhetoric for practical political reasons, but this shouldnand#39t be an excuse for not implementing democratic reforms.

Unfortunately, the anti-EU rhetoric can become with time an obstacle to implementing the necessary reforms to join in the EU as well. Anyway, for comprehensive reforms, one needs to write a brand-new constitution, but we donand#39t know how one will be able to do so under the present political circumstances.

It is clear that the current Parliament will not be able to adopt a new constitution because there is a lack of consensus among the political parties. So the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) hopes to get a qualified majority in the upcoming elections so that it will be able to write the new constitution alone.

A political party that is focused on getting as many votes as it can get canand#39t start a debate about comprehensive constitutional reform because it is too controversial. This is what is happening in Turkey.

The opposition parties are only focused on the presidentand#39s speeches, which isnand#39t a very good idea These parties must have their own agenda and should work on things other than just responding to the president. The same is also true for the mainstream press: Why are they wasting that much time by discussing Ottoman language courses in high schools and not focused on issues associated with the details of the EU negotiation process?The EU accession process is not about leaders, it is about society.

If the latter does not show interest in the process, one shouldnand#39t expect its leaders to make it a priority. The EU, by its actions, is responsible for the Turkish peopleand#39s disinterest in the EU process.

One should congratulate anti-Turkey politicians in Europe, as they also are responsible for Turkeyand#39s current situation. Hence, there is no need for the EU to take part in each and every one of Turkeyand#39s domestic controversies.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman