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16 April 2014, Wednesday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 
COLUMNISTS 3 April 2012, Tuesday 25 0
0
AMANDA PAUL
a.paul@todayszaman.com
AMANDA PAUL

Does Turkey care what EU thinks?

After a period of intense lobbying, at the end of last week the European Parliament’s Turkey Report was finally adopted. This year’s edition welcomes efforts to strengthen civil supervision of the army, while at the same time calling on Turkey to fully open military expenses to judicial control as well as include the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in civil jurisdiction; it reiterates the need for urgent judicial reform and a new “inclusive” constitution, which will help strengthen democracy.

In drafting the constitution, Turkey should provide for full recognition of all its ethnic and religious communities, acknowledge the inclusive nature of modern citizenship and promote the constitutional protection of mother-tongue language rights. The report also recognizes the important regional role Turkey is playing and that the EU and Turkey should step up their cooperation on shared foreign and neighborhood policy priorities and in the area of energy.

One of the most controversial elements is in reference to the Ergenekon investigation. Up until now, the European Parliament has fully supported the Ergenekon investigation, believing it to be an important step on the way to further strengthening democracy in Turkey. However, this year it has changed its line and for the first time questions the legitimacy of the investigation. It states: “Investigations into coup plan allegations, including Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, should reflect the strength of the Turkish democratic institutions and judiciary, their proper, independent, impartial and transparent operations and their unconditional and firm commitment to fundamental rights. There are growing concerns on allegations that inconsistent evidence has been employed against the defendants in these cases. The EU Commission is called upon to follow these cases and annex its findings in the 2012 Progress Report.”

Frankly, I am not surprised at this statement because over the last year or so, there have been increasing concerns around this town (Brussels) over Ergenekon, with active lobbying being carried out by some groups of people. Overall, I still believe the Ergenekon overhaul has been an important step for Turkey and has contributed to the strengthening of democracy. However, with the strengthening of the role of the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission needs to take into account the Parliament’s opinion more seriously than in the past and will likely adhere to this point.

An area of significant concern is media freedom and the continuing arrests of journalists. Journalists and publishers are subject to legal investigations and can face imprisonment for up to three years if convicted of disseminating statements and propaganda from terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, Turkey is currently only declared as being partly free by the media watchdog Freedom House. While press freedom and freedom of expression are guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution, challenges remain, including from fuzzy penal and antiterrorism laws. The recent decision of an İstanbul court to ban the Turkish (pro-Kurdish) newspaper Özgür Gündem from publishing for allegedly spreading “terrorist propaganda” has been seen as a negative step. However, there are also positive signs, including the release of four journalists on March 12. Ahmet Şık, Nedim Şener, Şait Çakır and Coşkun Musluk spent over a year in prison for their alleged involvement in Ergenekon.

Cyprus is also referred to several times. Disappointment is expressed over Turkey’s decision to freeze relations with the European Council during the presidency of Cyprus, it requests that Turkey refrain from any new settlement of Turkish citizens on Cyprus, calls on Turkey to allow political dialogue between the EU and NATO by lifting its veto on cooperative EU-NATO missions that include Cyprus, and calls on Turkey to work intensively for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

The conclusion is that EU-Turkey relations need fresh impetus, but will get it only if Turkey makes more progress on reform. I wonder to what extent Turkey’s leadership actually cares about what is written in this report and others like it. Will Turkey work on the areas where it is criticized or will it just be put on a shelf to gather dust? I guess Turkey will do what it generally does these days -- “cherry pick.”

Today, Turkey feels strong, assertive and bold. The EU process itself has gone some way to helping Turkey reach this point. As an increasingly important regional and global player and, as was just announced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), having Europe’s fastest-growing economy, I doubt that too many people in Ankara will be overly concerned with what a bunch of MEPs think. However, it is important for Ankara to understand that to continue to preach democracy and freedom to others, Turkey needs to adhere to and build up these very things itself.

COMMENTS
@sparis .. I just advice you to read your own previous post again and If you think that what you posted there is a fact then …there ain’t much need it to be said…. Either you are not up to date with turkey or you’re just prejudice because you’re post is nothing could be further from the truth No c...
wildTurkey
hurray turkey................. bıg up for havıng the fastest growıng economy........ myself ı dont care what europe thınks........ obvıously europe has no ıntentıon of allowıng turkey to ıts 'party' so Why should turkey care ........
albus
Wild Turkey. You say that I have a "very conditioned mind that is full of hatred and mistrust". No, I like Turkey, but I also have the ability to reflect and see things objectively. And I do not like that we have problems with pretty much the entire world, becuase the big looser from that is the ave...
Sparis
Sparis, of course you have to take what you see on the web with a pinch of salt but it also contains a lot of good stuff from reputable sources and it is the main source of information for most of us. There is enough reputable information on the web to back what I've said in my earlier post. I am no...
Baris
@Sparis;Well, I think the problem is in your mind. You gotta take off those side blinders that you’ve been wearing for so long just like some of the ultra nationalist in Turkey. When you look at things from a very conditioned mind that is full of hatred and mistrust “ and you’re given a great examp...
wildTurkey
OK, lets fill in then with "at odds with the rest of the world". US, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Denmark, UK, Sweden, Armenia, Greece, Greek Cyprus, Iran, Syria, Lybia, China, UK, Holland, Switzerland and Israel. And then add to this EU and Nato. This was what came to my mind at the top of my h...
Sparis
@problem maker; As Turkey being at odds with the rest of the world… not sure what you mean ? Turkey along with the rest of the world is being at odds with Syria because of the human tragedy that is going on there and she is doing just fine with the rest of the world even with Greeks.. that’s why the...
wildTurkey
@problem makers. I don’t think so, EU is well aware that she needs Turkey just as much as Turkey needs EU “remember, this stared 50 years ago both sides could‘ve walked away from it many times“. EU with aging population and saturated market needs countries like Turkey, Ukraine. One has to realize th...
wildTurkey
Baris. You can probably find pretty much whatever you want if your way of analysing the world is by google search. Facts remains, unfortunately, that there is a lot of friction between Turkey and the EU and also between Turkey and the rest of the world. Every time a Turkish polititian goes abroad, h...
Sparis
@Uncle Billy, what am I babbling about? I don't know, you tell me. You haven't addressed any of my points. All you've done is come up with some waffle on Kemalism in an effort to prove Turkey doesn't qualify for EU membership because she is not European. Irrelevant, I'm afraid. What IS relevant is ...
Baris
Baris, what are you babbling about? Turkey is based on Kemalist ideas and principals which have as their base for Turks to look like Europeans than the true Turks that they are, read your fabricated history! You have been acting like being European is the most important thing for you for years, chan...
Uncle Billy
Those who say EU is sick are forgetting that some of its members are world powers in their own right. The EU has the highest standard of living and democracy and the largest economy in the world. Most of the technological advances were made by countries which are now EU members and EU still is the w...
Baris
@problem makers, a simple Google search will reveal that EU has threatened the likes of Hungary, Syria, Iran, France, Israel, Turkey and many more. EU imposes sanctions on countries. Some of its members took part in the mess that is Iraq and couldn't wait to bomb Libya. Like any political entity, it...
Baris
@Yitzhak, obviously you don't understand. In order to instigate true democracy and get rid of the control of the army, AKP needs the application process to continue. EU gives needed support against the Kemalist establishment. This does not mean Turkey wants to join. Turkey is using EU for the above ...
AliA
Why should anyone in the west care if Turkey cares?
Antifon
@WildTurkey, if you know nothing of the EU struiture then do not comment on it, the UK is a full member of the EU, there is no UK model. I have noticed most Turks on here seem to confuse the Euro with the EU, these are two separate things. Equally, whilst Norway is not a member, she is still bound...
Mark
EU is a sick man with the illness "extreme self-care". And Greece became a pill to cure .
necati
You better can ask the question: 'Does the EU cares what Turkey thinks?' Some bureaucrats maybe but Europe at large wont give a dime. And Turkey is now so ''rich'' that it doesn't need the billions of aid it still received from the EU. Both Turkey and the EU knows that it never will going to happen,...
Johan
WildTurkey. I believe that EU begins to realize that Turkey can be a very "problematic" country constantly being at odds with the rest of.the world. It is like that every week almost. Just look at the behaviour of Mr Bagis. I believe that. EU does not want Turkey to be able to influense its decision...
problem makers
Does the EU care what Turkey thinks? Not anymore, apparently. Next time Egemon Bagis thinks about coming to Brussels, just send flowers instead.
Jogin Weiskopf
AliA, if Turkey doesn't want to be in the EU all they have to do is withdraw their application. It's as easy as that. Since they haven't I think we can assume the Turkish leadership recognizes what you apparently don't-that the long term prospects of being an EU member are much more attractive than ...
Yitzhak
I am not sure whether It is in Turkey’s best interest to be a full member of EU. I believe, Turkey will be better off with perhaps UK or Norway model. Turkey should have full rights in to the decision making process but not in single currency nor in the monetary/fiscal policies. Turkey has a great ...
wildTurkey
@Christoph, Turks aren't worried; why are you? EU is a sinking ship. Only an idiot would board it.
AliA
i personally dont care what EU thinks. EU is a loser. soon dissolve.
necati
Turkey's EU accession is dying on the vine. This lukewarm (at best) report basically says that. The AKP party are more concerned with the middle east Islamic world than europe and focus their energies accordingly. I see no progress on EU accession as long as Turkey has an AKP government and that cou...
Christoph
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