Scholars at Abant Meeting call for EU negotiations, domestic reform

Date posted: February 21, 2013

Menekse Tokyay for Southeast European Times

As Turkey’s EU bid has stalled, a group of prominent scholars agree that negotiations can only proceed if Turkey advances democracy, drafts a new civilian constitution and resolves of the Kurdish issue.

The Abant Platform has long been a progressive force in Turkey, bringing together intellectuals to debate and outline a vision for the country’s future. This year, the platform emphasised the importance of Turkey’s EU membership process, which should run parallel to work on a new constitution, democratisation, rule of law, equal citizenship and resolution of the Kurdish issue.

“The latest initiative of the government toward a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem should be supported. This process should also include a guarantee for equal citizenship within the new constitution,” the final statement said.

At a debate in the European Parliament in early February, European leaders pledged support for the Turkish government’s talks with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and said that a peaceful settlement of the conflict would boost Turkey’s membership bid.

While there is much for Turkey to do, the platform participants also said the EU hasn’t lived up to expectations.

“The current stalemate is mainly due to long-term hesitations and prejudices in some EU member states, but also to slow progress on reforms in Turkey after 2006,” Joost Lagendijk, a columnist and former joint chairman the Turkey-EU Parliamentarians delegation, told SETimes.

Speaking to SETimes, platform participants said the Turkey-EU relationship should be based on trust between parties. Meanwhile, public opinion on both sides should be well-informed of the benefits of membership, including the critical role of Turkey for the European security and ensuring “peaceful coexistence between the Muslim world and the West.”

The final declaration said that rising Islamophobia in Europe, the hostile attitudes of some European leaders and deep-rooted prejudices toward the Turkish community have created negative perceptions of Turkey within the 27-member club.

“One of the main problems is that some European governments act under the pressure of populist parties that stir up and exploit anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim and in particular anti-Turkish sentiments. Both sides should be aware that they are facing the same geopolitical challenges. Steps of public diplomacy could play an important role in the improvement of mutual trust,” Austrian professor Hans Köchler, the president of the International Progress Organisation, told SETimes.

“More than ever, a stable Turkey that is not alienated from Europe is indispensable for European security,” Köchler added.

Another participant at the platform, Savas Genc from Istanbul’s Fatih University, agreed.

“The EU, which still takes an elitist approach in its public diplomacy, is not ready to accept Turkey as a member. It is the duty of the EU to stop interpreting Turkey from the perspective of immigration problems,” Genc told SETimes.

“Both Turkey and the EU pretend to establish dialogue among themselves, but it is just to show off,” he added.

However, according to professor Levent Koker, a constitutional law expert and head of Abant Platform, it would be better to pay attention to the factors that slow or block the accession negotiation process instead of arguing about which side is responsible for the current stalemate in EU-Turkey relations.

“Leaving aside some rather fundamental factors like Turkey’s demographics or cultural cleavages, or political facts like the EU conservatives’ reaction to Turkey’s full membership, Turkey has been less enthusiastic in proceeding with the reform process,” Koker told SETimes.

Koker said eliminating the Cyprus issue is of vital importance in this process.

“If Turkey had taken some steps for the betterment of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, it would have gained significant benefits like stripping off the EU from any further excuse for not opening new negotiation chapters on the one hand and getting an upper hand in a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem,” he said.

The platform also discussed the visa liberalisation issue, arguing it would provide an “important opportunity to rebuild confidence and revive the accession process.”

During a January visit to Europe, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed disappointment over the length of time Turkey, as the only EU candidate country that has not negotiated a visa-free regime with the EU, had been waiting to join the Union and described this situation as “unforgivable.”

“The visa issue has started to become increasingly boring. An increased number of intellectuals and artists cancel their programmes in the EU countries just because they don’t want to be humiliated for weeks at the visa queues. This issue is also a barrier to the Europeanisation of Turkey by preventing further dialogue and interaction between the parties,” Genc said.

According to Köchler, what is urgently needed and feasible is reciprocity in the bilateral visa regime and removal of unnecessary red tape in the application process.

The Abant Platform also concluded that Turkey, waiting at the gates of Europe for more than half century, could look for alternatives like the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, but the EU should still remain central for Turkey.

“EU accession is still the best and most realistic option for Turkey. There is no other organisation around that offers the same advantages for Turkey, economically and with regard to strengthening democracy and the rule of law,” Lagendijk said.

Participants at the platform pointed out lifting blocked chapters can give momentum to the process. No chapter has been opened since June 2010 due to objections by France, but the country has recently hinted that it would allow new chapters to open.

Source: Southeast European Times February 21, 2012

Related News

Why did Turkey seize Bank Asya?

In September 2014, in an address to the Turkish Industry and Business Association, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the following statement: “No effort is underway to cause the bankruptcy of a bank. That bank is already bankrupt. They are carrying water by hand to keep it afloat.”

In Greece, Turks tell of lives full of fear in Recep Erdogan’s Turkey

Dominika Spyratou of the Greek NGO SolidarityNow, which provides assistance to refugees, says that more than 1,000 Turkish citizens came to Greece seeking asylum after the July 2016 failed coup, while almost 300 Turkish families are now in Thessaloniki.

Turkish army profiled Tahşiyeciler as serving al-Qaeda

The 13 March 2009 report, prepared by Turkish General Staff Intelligence Unit Head, Lieutenant General Hakkı Pekin, reveals the Tahşiyeciler group’s ideology strongly aligned with al-Qaeda, viewing its leader Osama Bin Laden as Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam.

Woman looking after disabled children alone as prosecutor husband under arrest for 270 days

Hacer Çakmak is only one of the hundreds of thousands of people who found themselves facing tremendous difficulties after the government started a desperate crackdown on the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a July 15 coup attempt.

Sen. Schumer & 70+ Senate Colleagues Call on State Dept. to Address ongoing Intimidation of Media and Censorship of the Press in Turkey under President Erdogan’s Administration

Recently, Two Journalists Who Were Vocal Critics of President Erdogan’s Administration and Were Arrested and Detained—Both Individuals Lead Major News Organizations; Prior To That Incident, Many Journalists Lost Their Jobs for Writing Material That Was Critical of President Erdogan and His Administration

Somali students caring for the Soma orphans

The Somali students who were previously brought to Soma, Manisa, for study by Kimse Yok Mu Foundation (KYM) in 2011, recently donated stationery supplies for 105 orphans the mining disaster left behind.

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

Students from 70 countries share joy of graduating in İstanbul ceremony

Barton: Erdoğan intoxicated by power, imperiling democracy in Turkey

Fethullah Gulen and February 28th Military Coup

Dangerous and unnecessary tension

Pakistan submits to Turkey’s ‘authoritarian demands’ on Gulen

World renowned NGO-rating Global Geneva stands by Kimse Yok Mu

Gulen Accuses Erdogan of ‘Hijacking’ Kosovo Deportees

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News