Istanbul, Gezi Park: „This is only the beginning. We will continue“ – and the Consequences for a Possible Turkish EU Accession

Until some ago days I was a clear supporter of a Turkish EU accession – even if it would come later as foreseen, but in principle I used to say that it was a good objective. Since 1986, when Turkey applied to join the EU, and the then Turkish Ambassador at the EU explained me that this is a long-term view – for the EU and for Turkey. But now, after Prime Minister’s Erdogan handling of the Gezi Park crisis, I look in a disillusioned way on this issue. What has shocked the European Union:
– Mr. Erdogan did and does not take care at all what is thought in Europe about his belligerant rhethorics, and about his double play between conciliatory steps towards the protesters and his disproportionate and violent proceeding. Even what the US said, was not regarded at all.

– It was also a „positive shock“ that its common foreign policy functioned: The EU for once follows a very clear policy – expressed by the Commissioners Füle (for Enlargement) and Ashton (for Foreign Policy), and by the European Parliament. This was agreed some days ago in a resolution which was drafted by all the major groups in the European Parliament – it was not an accidental, but a very intended majority. In a few weeks, the European Council will meet …

– Erdogan committed mistakes after mistakes. He should, as an elected prime Minister, exercise his capacity of integration and inclusion. Instead of this, he mobilized and mobilized every means of verbal injuries towards the protesters („terrorists“ – like Al Qaida or likewise, but Erdogan meant the students, elder gentlemen, medical doctors, lawyers, housewives) which are just indecent. He later said the was in favour of talks, then not, then again, then he agreed to an ultimatum until Sunday, 16.6., then he let „clear“ the square already on Saturday, 15.6. This kind of hectic actionism does not convey the picture of a wise statesman, but of someone in subjective psychic danger. After all, he as Prime Minister is the commander-in-chief of the Turkish police which clearly exaggerated ist means against the eople – among which elder people picknicking peacefully in Gezi Park!

Mr. Erdogan showed all of a sudden that in a situation which could be an everyday’s issue in a functioning democracy he reacts unwise, very primitely, like his Syrian colleague even in giving those orders directed against the own people, unreflected, drumming his breast like a Gorilla, not listening outside voices who are not part of the game but remind him of some elementary standards.

For the European Union (which may be is in a „crisis“ of the public finances of some member states, but which is otherwise still going strong, Mr. Erdogan!), things with Turkey are now totally changed. Out of a petite reason there came a legitimacy crisis of the AKP System, starting cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir et al. To put it clear: With a Turkey represented by Mr. Erogan’s values, an accession can never be reached. For the EU is also a community of values, as stipulated in art. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 EU Treaty. Now it becomes clear that Turkey does not want to reform its „minor“ Problems with journalists, poets, Armenians, unflexibility to excuse for mistakes in the past (again Armenians), and of course Cyprus, the Ankara protocol, and the non-acceptance to let Cypriot civilian aircraft fly over Turkey or to deal with its cargo ships.

The EU which may even open one more negotiation chapter in the next days and weeks (now they should Refrain from this!), will not and cannot go further in the direction of a closer relation to Turkey – with this government which shows what they think of humans. One can agree or not with Ms. Claudia Roth M.P., the Federal Chairwoman of the German Greens who is also Deputy Chair of the German-Turkish inter-parliamentarian Group, who happened to see the Events from tonight live in Istanbul, but in one thing she is undoubtedly right: „That is war! They chase people through the streets nd fire targeted tear gas grenades on persons.“ Which leads also to the reflection if all the training measures of the EU for the Turkish Police were in vain.

Turkey may suffer now an economic nose-dive as it turns out that one cannot sedate (and seduce) a people with economic liberalism alone, be it reached for the price of an authoritarian government.

Maybe with a certain delay, this is the beginning of the end of Mr. Erdogan’s regime. While the EU has of course to deal with this rude government, it is very open now for all alternatives which do not intend to turn back the time in the direction of a neo-osmanic empire,but of a modern, human-rights based democracy. And whoever wants his country into the system of the European Union, has to swallow that the EU is very, very interested into the details of the Turkish kind of rule of law. It will have to be made clear to the Turkish citizens that the EU, as a big ship on the ocean with little speed. but a valuable cargo, has stopped right before the Turkish port, which it does not enter because of some policies Mr. Erdogan represents. And I am very sure that from tonight there is now a new, durable conflict within Turkey – caused by the inflexible, constipated policy of Erdogan. He will end as an episode of Turkish politics.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)

Ein Gedanke zu “Istanbul, Gezi Park: „This is only the beginning. We will continue“ – and the Consequences for a Possible Turkish EU Accession

  1. Dear Hans Jürgen,

    I strongly appreciate your comment on the Turkish developments. In addition it is important to understand the impact of Erdogan’s policies to the ongoing pre-accession funding via ISPA, the various structural EU funds and other financial instruments. As the recent political developments in Turkey indicate significant deficiencies in the understanding of public dialogue, civil rights and peaceful solutions of conflicts in urban planning and related issues by the government it will not be possible to continue with „business as usual“. We are talking about probably more than a billion Euro EU aid annually. In the light of the Turkish developments this must be rethought and reassessed, which projects still make sense and can not be misused by Erdogan’s „forces“.

    Just as an example: I was requested to participate in a blood transfusion promotion project some days ago. After all this happened I had to withdraw my offer. But what would have happened if this project had started already?

    It is obvious that such projects as many others are not pure technical. In this case the project is highly political and ethically sensitive. To conclude: Blood transfusion cannot be promoted where innocent blood is flowing. To communicate such an objective now would simply be cynical.

    I recommend to initiate a memorandum on EU funding in Turkey and to assess what can be accepted in future. Also ongoing projects need to be reviewed and maybe changed or withdrew. This is an urgent task for the European Parliament as well for the European Commission with respect to the fact that hundreds of consultants need a clear sign and support by the resonsible politicians.

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