The view from Brussels

Şahin Alpay
Şahin Alpay

Date posted: February 23, 2014


I was in Brussels last week. On Wednesday, I spoke on the current state of affairs in Turkey during a “Turkey Debate” roundtable meeting organized in the European Parliament (EP).

It was hosted by MEP İsmail Ertuğ and attended by MEPs Andrew Duff, Metin Kazak ​and ​Filiz Hyusmenova. On Thursday and Friday, I gave two lectures at Belgium’s Leuven University upon the invitation of the Fethullah Gülen chair of the anthropology department. The former lecture was titled “What went right and wrong in Turkey?” and was addressed to graduate students while the latter was titled “Is Turkey a secular state?” and addressed a Ph.D. seminar.

As usual, I contacted members of the European Parliament and European Commission (EC) officials in Brussels with expertise in Turkish affairs. British liberal MEP Andrew Duff summarized quite well how Turkey is currently viewed in Brussels. Duff, speaking during the Turkey Debate meeting, stated that the European Union has never before been as close as it is now to considering the possibility of suspending accession talks with Turkey.

He said following the passing of legislation on the Internet and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), doubts have been increasing in Brussels about whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is truly interested in EU membership, whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan really understands the importance of the separation of powers in a democracy and whether he is behaving like a statesman.

He asked me what I would advise the EU to do in face of the increasing authoritarianism of the Erdoğan government. In brief, I responded by saying that the suspension of accession talks would be a terrible idea, but that the EU should not hold back from well-deserved criticisms and warnings.

The main impressions I received in Brussels regarding the views on Turkey are the following: The allegations by the pro-government media in Turkey that Erdoğan convinced European leaders during visits to Brussels and Berlin that the graft investigation is a fraud and merely a coup attempt against his government organized by outside powers and operated by the Gülenist “parallel state” is not in the least bit the case.

The idea in Brussels, like among all sound-minded people here in Turkey, rather, is that the Erdoğan government is using the “parallel state” conspiracy theory as a pretext to suppress the investigation into the gravest bribery and corruption charges in the history of the country and destroy the achievements of the last 10 years in terms of democracy and the rule of law. It appears that the view in both the EP and the EC is that the EC’s decision to start accession talks with Ankara in 2005, based on the assessment that it has “sufficiently” fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria, is no longer valid.

Despite that common view, it seems that a suspension of talks is not on the agenda, at least for the time being, mainly because the hope that Ankara will fix itself is not yet lost. It was emphasized that once a decision to suspend talks is taken, it would be nearly impossible to reverse it. It was also pointed out that Germany and France in particular attach importance to trade relations with Turkey and will not take any steps to endanger the re-emerging possibility of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem that would open the way to EU-NATO cooperation. It was underlined, on the other hand, that both the EP and the EC would continue to issue critical reports on measures that threaten democracy and the rule of law in Turkey. There should be no doubts as to how such reports will affect Turkey’s image in the world.

The EU officials I contacted believe in general that Prime Minister Erdoğan has set himself on an irreversible path that is very unlikely to serve his political career. There is also disappointment with President Abdullah Gül due to his endorsement of the Internet censorship law and his likely endorsement of other authoritarian legislation considered by the AKP government. One of those I spoke to said, “I had all along thought that Gül was the good cop, but apparently that is not the case.” I heard no regrets being expressed about Mr. Egemen Bağış, who was often referred to as the “anti-EU minister,” losing his seat in the Cabinet due to the graft investigation, but heard complaints about new EU Affairs Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, who “does not talk about anything else other than the parallel state,” which does not raise much interest.

Source: Todays Zaman , February 23, 2014

Related News

Alliance for Shared Values Statement on Detention of Turkish Nationals in Kosovo and Their Imminent Transfer to Turkey

The Alliance for Shared Values denounces the detention of six Turkish nationals in Kosovo on Thursday morning as a result of demands from the Turkish government. This is the latest incident in which the Recep Tayyip Erdogan regime has targeted innocent individuals solely based on affiliation with the Hizmet movement.

The Gulen Movement: A Paradigm for the Engagement of Faith and Modernity

In the midst of this time of crisis and opportunity, my question tonight is this: What is the future of religion in the new world order that is painfully emerging in our times?  How can religion support—and constructively critique—this new international order? I personally believe, very deeply, that God is raising up leaders in every […]

Prep school transformation plan violates Constitution, experts say

DERVİŞ GENÇ, İSTANBUL A government plan to shut down Turkey’s prep schools — or “transform” them, as the government argues — violates the Turkish Constitution and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), according to experts. “Parliament can neither close the prep schools with a law nor force them to transform. […]

What I Saw In Turkey

Everywhere in Turkey, people are talking about the clampdown on the Turkish media. The situation is quite dire. At Samanyolu, a TV station, has 14 broadcast channels in Turkey, English, Arabic and Kurdish and dozens of radio stations and popular news portals. Foreign news chief, Adnan Tokkapi, said its general manager, Hidayet Karaca, has been held in prison without conviction since December 2014.

Military coup documents contain plans to prevent works of Hizmet movement

MUSTAFA GÜRLEK, İSTANBUL Documents retrieved from the General Staff hard disks also feature plans to prevent the works of the Hizmet movement (a.k.a Gulen movement), inspired by the renowned Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. In the documents, the General Staff’s Information Support Unit discussed how to bring the financial sources of the Hizmet movement under […]

Fethullah Gülen writes for Politico Europe: Muslims have a unique responsibility in fighting terror

From its founding amid the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has dealt in deception as well as death. Despite its name, ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. The group’s dress, flags and slogans cannot hide their abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of this major world faith. Denying this barbaric group a geographical base that emboldens them to claim statehood is a worthwhile goal that all Muslims should support.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Fethullah Gulen issued the following statement on the Orlando shooting attack

KADİP’s 1st international photography contest held for peace

Turkish doctors hailed for their assistance in CAR

KYM volunteer doctors distribute Ramadan aid in Kenya

Syrian Refugees Blanket & Coat Drive

When Iconic Islamic scholar wins prestigious peace award

Turkey to pay huge compensation for post-coup rights violations, main opposition says

Copyright 2023 Hizmet News