EU expert pessimistic about post-election economy, future of customs talks

On the eve of a parliamentary election scheduled for June 7, European Union expert Can Baydarol sounded the alarm over economic challenges that the prospective government is likely to face and the fate of Turkeyand’s bid to upgrade and”so-called customs unionand” with the EU.
Not a month after Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci paid his latest visit to the EUand’s capital, Brussels, Sundayand’s Zaman on Wednesday spoke with Baydarol, the vice chair of the European Union and Global Research Association (ABKAD). Known for his professional and academic career on Turkeyand’s EU affairs, Baydarol drew a mostly cloudy picture regarding the Turkish economy and talks over the modernization of what most people call customs union.
and”Turkey has been experiencing a repressed economic crisis for a long time. The depreciation of the Turkish lira against the US dollar has been suppressed by 20 percent so far, highlighting inflation pressures. I assume that many small and medium-sized firms that use the euro and dollar will go bankrupt in the near future,and” Baydarol said, underlining that the country may be forced to move to an early election two years after June 7 — opposing the current governmentand’s pledge to maintain stability without any election for the next four years.
Stressing that Turkey designed an export-based growth model but is now stuck in a myriad of economic troubles stemming from its foreign policy, Baydarol maintained that Turkey has been isolating itself from its neighbors in recent years. Embattled amid a number of uncertainties, such as a vague reconciliation process and a much anticipated interest hike by the US Federal Reserve that will have direct effects on the current rate, it would be overly optimistic to hope for fours years of stability in the country, Baydarol added.
Once Turkey had declared its commitment to the Copenhagen criteria with the start of the negotiations for full membership in the EU, vowing to secure human rights, the rule of law and the democratic rights of minorities, foreign investment flocked into the country both in hot money and via long-term investments, Baydarol said. and”But after 2011, the reform agenda was shelved. During the Gezi resistance, people observed that we use the same concepts when expressing basic human rights but understand different things.and”
When Turks gathered in Gezi Park in central Istanbul to protest plans to construct a shopping mall there in 2013, senior officials from the government always said nearly half of the public had backed the ruling party in a recent election so all citizens should obey whatever the ruling party did on behalf of the vote it had secured in the election.
and”Turkey should make a broad analysis of whether it is in complete agreement regarding the meaning of such concepts with the Western world. If it fails, this may trigger a very deep economic crisis,and” Baydarol maintained.
h2and”Customs unionand” a controversial issueh2 As debates over a customs union between the EU and Turkey have once again been exacerbated with the ministerand’s recent visit to Brussels, Sundayand’s Zaman asked Baydarol about his prolonged criticism of the current negotiation process between Turkey and the EU.
Highlighting that Turkey is not tied to the EU by any custom union by todayand’s standards, Baydarol said that what exists between the two sides now is the implementation of the and”Decision of the EC [European Community, former name of the EU]-Turkey Association Counciland” that was agreed on in December 1995 as it was officially designated. The cooperation projected back in 1963 in the Ankara agreement was completed with the decision in 1995 however, it was not a customs union but rather an integration of custom areas from both sides.
and”With the Ankara agreement, the EEC [the former name of EC] and Turkey signed annexed protocols during the 1970s that gave the latter several unilateral concessions, such as free movement of goods without tariffs and non-tariff barriers into the community. Back then, this was an asymmetric relationship in favor of our country. However, the center of gravity shifted to the EC side in 1995, still remaining asymmetrical but in favor of the EC this time around,and” Baydarol stressed.
Todayand’s relations between the EU and Turkey with regards to customs has no other example in the world Baydarol said, underlining that members of a custom union must enjoy three things together: a shared decision making mechanism, a shared budget and a judicial system in which disputes occurring between the members may be settled.
Calling Turkish politicians at that time populists for misleading the media in 1995, Baydarol went on to say that current custom talks are again abused in domestic politics. Yet he warned that Turkey should have the EU state everything clearly in the talks, recalling earlier disputes that stemmed from the broad terms of the protocols.
Regarding lucrative trade deals, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — the deal which is currently being negotiated between the two economic blocs of the world, the EU and the US — Baydarol said Turkey should look for ways to become part of the agreement as it is expected to lay a heavy trade burden on Turkey because American goods would not be subjected to direct or indirect quotas under a final TTIP agreement that will be reached without Turkeyand’s involvement.
Nonetheless, Baydarol pointed to suffering relations with other countries once again and said if Turkey wants to be a part of a two-sided deal, it must manage to get approval from both sides, referring Turkeyand’s distorted US affairs in recent years.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman