The resolution taken in the European Parliament on Turkey called for Ankara to fully respect the European political system's fundamental democratic values, the rule of law and the freedom of political...
The resolution taken in the European Parliament on Turkey called for Ankara to fully respect the European political system's fundamental democratic values, the rule of law and the freedom of political association. In the resolution, it was emphasized that the capacity of the opposition parties to exercise their rights and fulfill their democratic roles was restricted by the government. Turkey, on the other hand, ignores this decision and still advocates renegotiating the customs union by arguing that the EU has not fulfilled the convergence promised in the first migration agreement in 2016 which also includes visa exemption. Therefore, the relationship between the EU and Turkey remained with budgets and numbers. The issue of human rights is on another stage. So where is Turkey turning to?
There seems to be no improvement in Turkey's long-declared reform moves towards the European Union. This issue was also on the agenda of the European Parliament held in Strasbourg on 8 July. After the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament also made an important decision that would not be in favor of Turkey. There are three important elements in the decision: i) Emphasis that repression of opposition parties limits the capacity of political parties to exercise their rights and fulfill their democratic roles; ii) The situation of the HDP, whose approximately 4 thousands members are reported to be in prison, and the increasing pressure on other opposition parties; iii) Obstacles emerged by the appointment of trustees to municipalities. Considering these three factors, it was demanded in the resolution that any positive program to be presented to Turkey by the EU be conditional on improvement in the fields of human rights, civil rights and the rule of law. It seems that this report is a resolution on the pressure exerted by the government on opposition parties in Turkey. However, this decision taken by the European Parliament is only advisory and not binding.
'IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCEPT'
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the European Parliament report presented in May, and stated that “At a time when efforts are being made to revitalize the relations between Turkey and the EU within the framework of a positive agenda based on the perspective of membership to the EU, it is not possible to accept the unilateral and impartial recommendation”. However, after this report, it was seen that there was no appreciable reaction from Turkey.
If we compare this report with the previous one, we can summarize the difference as follows. In the previous report, the EU was asked to suspend membership negotiations with Turkey, and it was stated that Turkey's decline in three main areas, such as the rule of law and fundamental rights, reverse-operated institutional reforms and confrontational foreign policy, and an open anti-EU rhetoric, caused concern. It was also noted that there was great concern over the loss of independence of the judicial system and the authoritarian interpretation of the overly centralized presidential system. It was emphasized that they called on the other people arrested by the government on unfounded charges to be released. It was stated that Turkey pursued a confrontational policy towards EU members Greece and Cyprus and systematically opposed the priorities of the EU in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Finally, it was demanded that associations belonging to the Nationalist movement called "Grey Wolves" be banned and added to the "EU list of terrorist organizations”. While the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to all these decisions as "It is not possible to accept", it was emphasized that EU membership is a strategic goal for Turkey, that membership would be a gain for the whole of Europe and beyond, and that Turkey would resolutely continue to work towards this goal. It was interesting that Turkey did not receive any appreciable reaction after the last report.
'EUROPE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND TURKEY'
Making statements only after the last European summit held last June, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın stated that Europe did not understand Turkey, that the progress that could not be made between the EU and Turkey was not only due to Turkey, but that the EU's policies towards Turkey were "weak and unplanned”. Stating that the EU leaders' summit did not meet the expectations for Turkey, Kalın said that he did not expect anything new from the EU Summit that will take place in October. As a matter of fact, EU membership has been forgotten even at the level of discourse. The only issue discussed between the EU and Turkey remained the issue of the Customs Agreement and the issue of immigrants.
Therefore, the lack of a substantial reaction from the government after this decision shows that the European Parliament's decision was not taken into account by Turkey as it was not binding. However, it should not be forgotten that such reports shape the decisions of the EU's executive bodies. So, Turkey's nullification of these decisions is an indication that Turkey has changed its EU perspective almost at full speed.
WHERE DOES TURKEY CHANGE DIRECTION?
Two important issues stand out in Turkey's recent foreign policy moves towards the West. The first is that Turkey sends troops to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US. The second is the steps to strengthen its position in NATO by selling armed drones to Eastern European countries and improving relations with Greece. It is seen that all the moves are made with a military content in foreign policy. Steps to strengthen its role within NATO and Turkey's move to deploy troops here and take over the business after the United States are indications that Turkey does not want to break away from the Western wing.
Afghanistan is especially an important node for Turkey. The Pentagon said in a statement that US troops evacuated Afghanistan's largest airbase on July 3, and a full withdrawal is scheduled for August 31 this year. Turkey is willing to be in Afghanistan after the US. This situation has a vitamin effect to keep the Turkish-American strategic relations alive. However, the presence of Turkish soldiers in the region, which is described by Biden as an "unwinnable war without a military solution”, poses a great risk for Turkey. So, while it is possible to make these concessions in foreign policy, what is the reason for not making a change regarding human rights in domestic policy?
On the other hand, as you may remember, Turkey's UAV sales to Poland were on the agenda in the past weeks. Among the Eastern European countries, Poland does not seem to be the only country to increase its military and economic cooperation with Turkey. It is known that negotiations are also made with other European countries such as Hungary and Slovenia for UAV sales. However, if we consider it from a more general perspective, these countries are the ones that have been warned about showing an authoritarian image in Europe, especially in their domestic politics. The Netherlands' strong condemnation of Hungary on human rights and the US President Joe Biden's emphasis that it will fight authoritarian regimes are the factors that will reveal this confusion. Considering the resolution of the European Parliament regarding Turkey, Turkey's increasing cooperation with these countries in foreign policy brings to mind the question of whether it will reveal a different picture in the future.