Can the relations between Turkey and EU be normalised easily?
The tensions between Europe and Turkey over the last few years shows that governments will not find it as easy as they want to normalise the relation.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Interior Minister Süleyman Soyluhold held a news conference after the 4th Reform Action Group on August 29, 2018.
It is abundantly clear that the real purpose of the “action plan” declared by the four ministers across cameras in the name of normalising the relations with the EU is to do with overcoming the impasses reached in the economy and foreign policy by the regime in Turkey. For this reason, the step is taken, more than being a voluntary political preference, stems from economic necessity.
Leave aside the President Tayyip Erdoğan himself, once the four ministers across the cameras turn around and look at what has been said about the EU only but a few months ago, they will witness a gross inconsistency and pragmatism. For this reason, the AKP is also consistently continuing the outlook of “Yesterday is yesterday, today is today.”
Once the picture is considered as a whole, it can be seen that an ad-hoc, opportunist policy ensues in relations with the EU. The point reached at the end of tensions caused with the EU and many European countries over inciting nationalism for electoral backing at home politics and the “new route” declared, evidence adequately the extent of the inconsistency of their policies.
However, one must not be surprised with the zigzags performed about the EU issue on the Turkish front. Just like every bourgeois government, the AKP government is completely ignoring what itself said yesterday, after opening “a clean page”.
And it seems that the role of positive messages emanating from efforts ongoing in diplomatic corridors over the last few weeks behind AKP governments recent cosying up to the EU is decisive. Were it the case that these messages were not received from the EU front, the possibility for the “Reform Action Plan” which was shelved for the last three years to convene suddenly and for the ministers to make the declaration was quite weak. For this reason, what is going on these days is to do directly with this process. Such political manoeuvres are being undertaken on the back of the knowledge that the way to overcome especially the economic crisis is to find a new cash injection.
What is especially important is here the hypocritical EU approach. Before even the attack on Saturday Mothers was forgotten in the media, no objections are being raised against the “colourful tableau” depicted by Ankara. The fact of the mobilisation all means by the increasingly authoritarian regime to keep all sections of the opposition under pressure is not finding any kind of expression.
The EU and countries such as Germany and France, serving as its engine, who has been directing criticisms of human rights, democracy, freedom of the press and authoritarian regime are now leaving the door ajar as though there will be major changes in the areas of concern. As though it was not the case that French president Emmanuel Macron had not clearly raised the question at the beginning of the week: “While the Turkish president confirms his seemingly anti-European pan-Islamist agenda on a daily basis, do we think that we could openly and honestly discuss Turkey’s EU membership?”
Considered form the French point of view, it can be understood that the issue is “long termed strategic interests” rather than human rights. A similar situation is also the case for Germany. Berlin, which has experienced the bulk of the tension with Turkey is preparing to host Erdoğan at the end of September. Next week, the foreign minister Haiko Maas, who advocates a foreign policy independent of the US will be going to Ankara to hold talks.
Quite possibly the “picture of the normalisation” of EU-Turkey relations will be given during Erdoğan’s Berlin visit. After all, the steer to Turkey-EU relations is being given by Germany.
It could be asserted that the discussion of the normalisation of the relations began in Berlin before Ankara. The parties of government opened aiding Turkey due to financial economic crisis to debate and at the current stage reached, it seems that an agreement has been reached around the aid of finding an appropriate channel. Der Spiegel, which has covered Germany’s changing Turkish policy under the title of “Golden Words” is relaying the following statement citing government sources: “If there is anything urgent to be done, Germany will be in the forefront.” (25.08.2018)
For this reason, Germany and the EU, taking advantage of the situation generated by the financial crisis, just as was imposed in Greece, is in the process of preparing for imposing ultimatums of despair on Turkey. Sources close to government are openly advocating the stipulation of “conditions” of the aid. Reports also include the prioritisation by Turkey of the updating of the customs agreement in this process.
That a possible conciliation of relations will lead to different debates within EU can also be predicted as of now. Macron’s statement, in one respect, is an expression of this difference of opinion. However, with especially the current EU president Austria and Italy, countries where right-wing-populist-nationalist parties are partners of government will not remain silent to Germany and the EU opening the door to Erdoğan.
Similarly, the reaction to the authoritarian regime in Turkey amongst the peoples of Europe is hindering their governments to move as easily as they wish. For this reason, the tensions experienced between Europe and Turkey over the last few years shows that governments will not find it as easy as they want to normalise the relations according to the interests of the capital.