The EU factor

There is an indirect relationship between the April 27 e-memo and Turkey's EU bid.

The EU factor
By Ali Bulac, Today's Zaman

There is an indirect relationship between the April 27 e-memo and Turkey’s EU bid. It is generally contended that external factors played determinative roles in the previous military interventions with the democratic order. Conversely, this time the EU strongly reacted to the intervention with the political process; however, the role that the EU played in the emergence of the crisis cannot be ignored.

December 2002 was an important turning point for Turkey: A major obstacle was overcome at this point, and Turkey was given a perspective to start full membership negotiations with the EU on Dec. 17, 2004.

This decision increased Turkey’s popularity in the international arena and further demonstrated that the country’s dynamics would trigger new social and political energies, provided that political space was renewed through fresh social actors. The decision to start negotiations with Turkey actually meant that the process of full membership, an option whose materialization was considered inevitable, sscommenced in practice and it transformed from a distant promise into a reality conditioned to a clear process.

Even though Germany and France exerted efforts to reverse the process, important decisions were made in Turkey to introduce bold reforms in the administrative, legal and material fields. Furthermore, in order for the two countries to take the process somewhere they preferred, the consent of all members is required, which is a daunting task. In other words, it seems that if the Turkish administration adhered to the reform process, positive outcomes out of this determination would have been obtained.

Of course, significant reforms were introduced, and some of them were even implemented; however, no major step was taken to ameliorate the overall conditions of the religious masses. This should be noted as the primary reason for the diminishing support toward Turkey’s full membership in the EU. It should also be noted that the administration is more responsible than EU member countries in this particular situation.

The EU needs Turkey as much as Turkey needs the EU. If Europe or the West had not been eager to see Turkey aligned with the EU, it would not have accepted Turkey’s application for membership in the first place. Within strategic considerations at the macro level, the mutual need may insignificantly fluctuate depending on the conjunctures. But complete de-alignment is out of the question, at least for the time being. As such, the active subject of the process, the AK Party government, should have done two things considering Turkey’s near past and probable developments.

First, it should have resolved issues pertinent to the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms by using the actual value of the process; second, it should have been aware that the anti-democratic powers would intervene with the political process when they would find the proper moment.

At this point, the administration lost prestige because of the April 27 memorandum, which has the potential to inflict greater damage than the one declared on Feb. 28, 1997. The government, in reliance on external support, made a mistake by supposing that it would remain in power for a few more terms; it was unable to appreciate internal developments. It further declared those who criticized its policies enemies because of pride and overconfidence.

I should note that the AK Party did not fully consider social support and sensitivities. Turkey’s political establishment is inherently anti-democratic; it does not allow diversity or pluralism. The AK Party and similar conservative parties could have maintained a pluralist order by developing a concept of negotiating politics.

The presence of language, representation and policy diversity is the assurance of democratic politics. It will also mean cultural adoption and internalization of negotiating politics that will guarantee civil politics and democratic social participation vis-à-vis vulgar postmodern interventions.
Last Mod: 15 Haziran 2007, 12:45
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