Gülen, Erdoğan’s new agenda item with the West


Date posted: January 24, 2014

 SEDAT ERGİN

Not but two months ago, sitting next to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Turkey’s EU membership bid as a “50-year-long experience,” and told Putin, “Take us to the Shanghai Five and save us from this hassle.”

Talking about the EU as a hassle in Moscow, Erdoğan entered the door of the European Commission in Brussels the other day and underlined to his interlocutors his commitment to the EU membership target and reform process.

Actually, it is not difficult to guess Prime Minister Erdoğan does not harbor a deep love for the EU in his internal world. Yet, whatever his sentiments, especially after the disappointment he experienced in the Middle East and together with realism weighting in, we see the prime minister is again set with the EU preference.

Looking from that perspective, his Brussels visit shows he does not desire a rupture with the EU and feels the need to direct the axis towards Brussels, despite all the uncertainties and problems in relations with the EU.

He surprised many observers during his visit to Brussels. One of the important concerns before Erdoğan left for Brussels was a probability to have a second Davos incident, in case he lost his temper facing criticism from the EU. Yet the talks, at least from what has been reflected to the public, have not witnessed a serious crisis. The first conclusion we need to draw from the Brussels visit, is Erdoğan can succeed in controlling his temper when he wants, or rather when his political interests require so.

A similar account is valid for the EU as well. The European commission does not want relations to deteriorate or to get out of control, despite the concerns it has about the authoritarian tendencies within the AKP government.

Furthermore, an additional chapter has opened in 2013 and then with the signing in December of the readmission agreement with the aim of visa liberalization, a new momentum has been caught in relations after a long break.

The EU wishes to maintain this momentum and even carry it further, if possible.

Yet, the mood reflected to the outside public does not mean everything was nice and sunny behind the closed doors. It is clear neither side mince their words. Erdoğan has been subject to severe criticism in a wide range of issues from fights against corruption to the independence of judiciary and press freedoms. Instead of entering into contention, interestingly, Erdoğan replied to these criticisms by committing the will to go more toward democratization

Erdoğan said, “2014 will be a turning point in terms of Turkey’s democratization reforms and EU membership.” This is very ambitious and does not overlap with the situation inside.

Erdoğan’s visit took place under the shadow of the Dec. 17 process. Facing strong messages from the EU on the independence of the judiciary, Erdoğan spent his energy to convince that the problem does not stem from the interference of the government to the judiciary, but rather from the parallel structure’s interference. We do not know to what degree Prime Minister succeeded in convincing his interlocutors. We can, however, say without any doubt that Fettullah Gülen became an official agenda item in the dialogue between the government and the EU.

This agenda item will not be limited to the European Commission but leaves its mark on the talks Prime Minister will hold in the coming days with other Western countries.

Yet, no matter how strong of views he might voice to his interlocutors about the Gülen movement (Cemaat) he can’t save himself from the problem of credibility. While he was giving assurance in Brussels that he is not interfering with the judiciary, the fact that the very same day the pressure exerted by the undersecretary of the Justice Ministry to the chief prosecutor in his investigation on a corruption case was revealed through documents will lead the EU to approach these assurances with suspicion.

Still, the fact that Erdoğan turned his focus to Europe, even if for a short while, is something we should approach positively because AKP government will be open up to the EU’s constructive recommendations in the areas of democracy, press freedom, independence of judiciary and reforms to the degree dialogue with the EU gets deepened.

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Jan 24. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

Source: Hurriyet Daily , January 24, 2014


Related News

Should We Send A Man We Know Is Innocent To His Death Abroad?

Wow…realpolitik will take precedence. It’s okay to send Gulen to his death. What do we care about the execution of a Muslim cleric who paid for full-page ads in the New York Times to condemn 9/11 attacks, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and ISIS, forged ties between Jews, Christians and Muslims, who came to America because of our freedoms, and will honor our request, putting his fate in God’s hands, and our own. And why do we care that he goes to his death at the hands of a man who had good things to say about Hitler’s system of government.

History of politically motivated assault on Bank Asya

The politically motivated operation aimed at taking over Bank Asya is one that has unfolded step by step, marked by public statements from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as other top Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials.

Academic Freedom in Turkey Under Seige

It appears that Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Islamic preacher from Turkey who promotes peace and tolerance, and the schools associated with his religious Hizmet movement can’t get a break. Now, Gülen’s schools are being targeted in his home country by the Turkish government’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, which should dispel any notion in the U.S. that the AKP is somehow in cahoots with the Gülen movement.

“Like a Storm”: Deportations Stun Turks in Kosovo

The families of six Turkish nationals hastily deported from Kosovo to Turkey in a secretive intelligence operation speak of violence, fear and uncertainty.

Erdoğan’s accusation that Hizmet organized the coup attempt is noxious and absurd

The name of that “terrorist organization” was not spoken, but Ökem was referring to the so-called Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü. To the rest of the world, it’s the Hizmet movement founded by Fethullah Gülen, a former close and important ally of Erdoğan. No one else sees it as violent. Erdoğan’s accusation that it organized the coup attempt is noxious and absurd.

Once shut down by Taliban, now Afghan gov’t plans to hand over successful Turkish Schools to Turkish Gov’t

Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani has agreed to hand over the Afghan-Turk schools, previously run by a pro-Gulen institution, to the Turkish Education Foundation which is a governmental institution. This step has, however, not been welcomed by the affected schools. Officials of the schools have warned that the move would lead to closing the schools and damage the quality of education.

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

Turkish schools in US select Olympiad finalists

Paralyzed by ill-treatment in Sivas prison, Turkish police officer dies at 33

Education minister calls on African ambassadors to have Gülen-inspired schools closed

Man dies of heart attack while on way to help Turkish refugees in Greece

Gülen, a man of peace, not behind attempted coup in Turkey

Serbian torture base now houses Turkish school

Lord Mitchell pays a visit to Turkish School

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News