CENGIZ – December the 17th

December the 17thThis column is not about the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption scandal.

Nevertheless, I ought to take note of last Sundayand#39s apprehension of the chief editor and general manager at the Zaman and Samanyolu media outlets. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) managed the impossible, bringing together contrasting elements of the polity in ways reminiscent of Gezi.

Itand#39s the first time in Turkey we are seeing such levels of empathy transcending political fault lines! When one adds the international reaction to the fray, it is clear that the Dec. 14 move is a democratic and diplomatic failure.

The atmosphere only looks set to get tenserThe Dec. 17 Iand#39m referring to marks the tenth anniversary of the Brussels EU Council, where the start of Turkeyand#39s EU accession talks happened.

On Dec. 19, 2004, the Radikal newspaper carried these lines: andldquoPrime Minister [Recep Tayyip] ErdoIan declared the decision that emerged from the European Union summit a andlsquoholiday.

and#39 andhellip Notable were the Turkish flags and EU flags flying on the roads, as well as giant balloons decorated with Turkish and EU flags floating in Ankaraand#39s KIzIlay Square.andrdquoThe detail of a andldquoiant balloonandrdquo is a perfect depiction of the point at which we have arrived with the EU.

It is visible to all, but is full of hot air! It is very convenient. EU leaders and commissioners come and go strong commitments are made.

Hence, the andldquoErdogan mediaandrdquo is able to andldquosellandrdquo these promises given to our president on the domestic market. Moreover, the countryand#39s relationship with the EU is used by the government to depict its andldquodemocraticandrdquo actions.

The real truth of the matter, however, is that Turkey, a negotiating candidate country, long ago failed to fulfill the compulsory Copenhagen political criteria to negotiate with the EU!Indeed, after October 2005 (when the accession talks started) the government set the EU business aside. When I take a look back at some of my old pieces written from October 2005 onwards, I notice a numbers of alarms.

Looking at the dreadful present situation, there are many who assert that the support given by liberals to the AKP was simply blindness and a complete mistake. But this support was always conditioned on EU reforms.

It would be given again today, if necessary. Those liberals and democrats, now in the opposition, never ignored the condition for their support, and they certainly did not wait until today to ring the alarm bells.

The EU reforms were not only functional when it came to boosting the ruling partyand#39s political design — they also empowered society. Synergy — between Turkeyand#39s desire for change and the EU — inspired reforms that were put into motion by the AKP government, but the agents of change were the people.

It was during this period that society finally ripped off the camisole it had been forced to wear all these years, probably from the inception of the Young Turks era in 1913.Countless opportunities will slip from Turkeyand#39s hands as the possibility of EU membership unravels.

After all, EU harmonization reforms were like much-needed medicine for these andldquounhealthyandrdquo lands. They represented a chance to be freed from the mistakes repeated by so many developing countries and economies.

The reforms were an opportunity to finally toss into the trash the dogma that Islam and democracy are not compatible. And of course, they were an opportunity as well for Western Europe, which had never had a non-Christian belief receive equal status within its entity.

Still, the ruling eliteand#39s efforts to try and get society to put on a new camisole are futile. Society is empowered forever Just as it is not possible to resuscitate the forged nation of early 20th century, after 2002, it is not possible to intimidate the society of post-2002.

In short, it is no longer possible to return to a bogus Ottoman era via a andldquoNew Turkeyandrdquo as imposed by the government, nor is it possible to return to an artificial Turkey dreamed of by nationalists. Turkey may wander around and around, but it will always return to the EU, since, despite the enormous illusions of today, there is really nowhere else to go.

Keep in mind though: The transition without the EU will be tough, and perhaps for the first time, Turks will pay a heavy price to arrive at a new social contract.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman