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Turkey shots its own foot


Standpoint of Turkey


Turkey shots its own foot

Cengiz Aktar


Cengiz Aktar

Political sciences professor, member of the board of directors of Hrant Dink Foundation and columnist for Taraf newspaper.

According to political scientist Cengiz Aktar, the European perspective, which provides examining the taboos in Turkey, is passing through a very fragile era. The policy of the government which is established on tension, could cause relations with EU to be broken off.

On which stage does membership negotiations of Turkey to European Union?

Between years of 2002-2005, very productive era has been occured. After this date, negotiations came to a standstill. This situation was a result of a deficiency in decree caused by both Europe and Turkey. It was Sarkozy who left his mark on the process on side of Europe. On Turkey side, the government became completely uninterested about EU.   Of course this has some reasons, but nobody could explain this extreme increase of self-confidence. As of 2006-2007, government started saying “We do not need European Union. We could do everything by ourselves”.  Then, economic crisis appeared in Europe. The opinion of the government has been merely confirmed. After these developments, Europe was not desirous. Another important factor was Cyprus. 18 topics of negotiations has been blocked now. 14 of those were blocked because of Cyprus and 4 of them were blocked by France – one of those that is about agricultural policy.

Some politicians and European Commission started to react to this recession nearly 1,5 years ago. They said: “We do not have luxury to loose Turkey. Turkey may need us, but we also need Turkey”.  All of those ensure Turkey’s membership to be evaluated again. It caused to Europe to determine opinion about the requirement for Turkey to be a member of EU. “A positive route map” was prepared by Commission and was put into effect by Council. Important developments was occurred about Visa. This positive ambiance nearly provided a new negotiation topic to be opened firstly after three years. It was an important topic about regional policies which are planned to be opened. But, most probably, opening of the topic shall be delayed. (After this interview, in European Union General Affairs Council meeting which was held in 25th June 2013, it was decided to open this topic “principally” but the determination of official opening date shall be determined in fall.)

Why ?

It is because of the actual political crisis which destroys the image of Turkey and damages the positive ambiance. This crisis rummages everything. It turns the tables and we do not know what will happen then.

After European Parliament remonstrated the fact that Police reserts to violance in protests in Turkey; Prime Minister Erdoğan said that he does not acknowledge this decision. How do we have to interpret this ?

Such types of explanations are not new. AKP government suffers from every diseases of political power. Same with De Gaulle or Thatcher, Erdoğan shows all syndromes of long-lasting political power. It is not the first time that we heard such unfortunate statements. Before, The Chairman of Parliamentary Constitution Committee said that he shall throw “the European Union Progress Report” to the waste bin. Of course such statements never make things easier in crisis periods.

It seems like Turkey gives up from EU target completely and turns to the leadership of Middle East.

Not exactly. Turkey never burns the bridges with Europe not even in the recession era when negotiation topics were frozen. It treated suchlike but did not realize, this was such in the statement but it never said “Ok, this is over”. But today, it makes very dangerous statement and this could take relations to the point of break off slowly. This shall be a disaster for Turkey.

Does it your prudence?

The Prime Minister endangers the future. He plays obviously on interference and hostility. He has an ultranatonalistic statement towards Kurdish people, intellectuals, Alewi people and everyone. This could have very tragic effects. It could cause relations with EU to be stopped for years.

Now, Europe is not seemed as being within the priorities of Turkey.

Government behaves like it disregards.

How affects does European Union membership perspective of Turkey on Turkish-Armenian question? Could this perspective still provides progress in some issues?

Reforms that are made between 2002-2005 within the framework of compliance to EU had enormous effects for Turkish-Armenian question and Armenian Genocide to be talked among the community. It took great perspectives to Turkish society. This indirect affect still continues. But if there shall be negative developments with EU to be occurred in the future, I don’t think that the Government shall continue its attitude which it acted before. The government did not object to meetings to be made about Genocide despite the fact that it oppose to the recognition of Genocide. The word of Genocide is not a taboo anymore. EU membership perspective expands the area of politics in the most royal meaning. It ensured democratic discussions to be embedded in the culture. This is unworthy. By means of this wind,  Turkey started to interrogate its taboos in public area. Especially young people eager to know and learn what was happened 100 years ago or in history. This perspective became both exciting and improving.

Isn’t it this ambiance which is the reason of reactions of young people towards the manner of government that becomes more brutal and authoritarian today? They have just tasted the freedom…

Of course it is. What is contrary is, this government is the government which opened and expanded. Now it tries to close the same area, of course it could not. 

Did a similar wind blow in relations with Armenia? 

European dynamics in Turkey started to affect relations with Armenia with the attempts of The President of Republic Abdullah Gül in 2009. But this affect ended very quickly with the Prime Minister who played on Azerbaijani card. From this day, the Azerbaijani card became the most important thing and superseded everything. Armenian policy of Turkey is now indexed to the energy interests of Azerbaijan and Turkey indirectly. Azerbaijani is also effective in “Armenian Question” in other words in Genocide as they are in Armenian policy. They are more royalist than the king in the denial of genocide. They use their petroleum incomes for this purpose. I don’t think that the government could say them “Don’t involve this issue”.

On the contrary, we see that the government motivates them to involve this question more. Could we say that Azerbaijani shall be more visual in this issue when 2015 is coming?


There are some rumors about the fact that the dependency of Turkey to Azerbaijan about energy shall stop with natural gas resources that are found in Iraq Kurdistan. How could these facts effect ?

This is such a serious alternative. Turkey is progressively interested in Iraq Kurdisan about the procurement of energy. The greatest challenge for the Government is:  Could it give up from the poisonous friendship of Azerbaijani in terms of Armenian Genocide? If we consider the actual mood of the Prime Minister, I don’t think so. 

Shall European Union membership perspective have any effect in this issue? 

No. Of course, the demanded picture is that all three Caucasian countries shall be under the wings of Europe with Turkey’s membership. Unfortunately we are far from this fact.

If we shall turn to protests in Turkey, even though the government says that it “does not recognize” European Parliament , does reactions from Europe – such as mentioning referendum – causes Turkey to step back?

I don’t think so, on the contrary, Government became more brutal. It has its back to the wall, it added fuel to the flames. Of course if somebody makes such a harsh statement, it is not easy to step back. Turkey shots its own foot with machine gun.

How developments did you expect in the following era?

We do not have much to be optimistic. There are several options in front of Turkey. Prime Minister already started electorial campaign. First elections shall be performed in March, and we have seven months till elections. We are waiting elections on the stretch with trenchant expressions which treats half of the population as terrorists. It augers no good.