It is known that Pamuk has been threatened by Ergenekon, referred to as the deep state in Turkey, and that there have even been attempts to assassinate him. It is probably for this reason that he voluntarily decided to live in exile; he is currently living in a foreign country.
An answer should be offered to the question as to whether the European Union project has collapsed from the perspective of the Turkish public. To this end, a recent public poll may help offer some basic insights and clues. A survey conducted by the Turkish-European Foundation for Research on Education and Science (TAVAK) presents the Turkish public’s view vis-à-vis the European Union. According to the poll, which was conducted in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Kayseri, Gaziantep, Artvin and Trabzon with the participation of 1,110 respondents on June 20-30, only 17 percent believed that Turkey will become an EU member. This was 34.8 percent in a survey conducted in 2011 (Habertürk, Aug. 19, 2012).
Asked whether Turkey needs the EU for economic reasons, 78.4 percent of the respondents said no, 48.3 percent said the government had been working adequately towards EU membership in 2011, whereas this declined to 34 percent in 2012.
Even though it is not possible to make a final assessment based on a survey, a general opinion can be observed in this matter.
There is no doubt that the reluctant attitude of the European Union towards Turkey’s membership plays a great role in the emergence of this view among the public. States believing that a large country like Turkey would influence the power balance in the union have pursued a policy to ensure that Turkey moves away from the EU; and this policy has partially succeeded. The states that are aware of the strategic importance of Turkey, on the other hand, have tried to ensure that the process culminates in the full membership of Turkey.
As for the Turkish public’s perspective on this matter, it was obvious that the government has acted reluctantly to address the EU membership process since 2010. Particularly in recent times, the government has used the obstructions of Germany and France as pretexts for its reluctance. The ongoing economic crisis in Europe has also been presented by the government as a justification, telling the people that they were right to remain indifferent to the process.
It would not be right to say that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s attempts and excuses to become more democratic with its own dynamics, which it often refers to as the “Ankara Criteria,” are realistic. Without universal standards, norms and sanctions, it is not possible for a state to attain full democratization in the world.
I would like to make one single remark on the economic dimension of this matter. A country that makes the overwhelming majority of its exports to EU countries and that needs to maintain strong cooperation with European countries to provide better technology, standby equipment and know-how should be more cautious about arguments it generates and about the crisis in Europe that is met with joy by Turkey.
Exacerbation of the economic crisis in European Union countries will not make Turkey stronger; on the contrary, it will make things worse. Do not think that the Shanghai Five will rescue us. The AK Party government, which is one of the actors responsible for the declining popular trust and confidence in the European Union, should be aware that its pro-statist policies will not consolidate its power in the long term. No one is able to tell how the European Union will overcome the ongoing economic crisis. But recent damage to the ideal of the “democratic Europe,” which is separate from “colonialist Europe,” will make it more difficult to overcome the crisis. French philosopher Fernand Braudel argued that civilization is accumulated and shared wisdom and knowledge. Rising Islamophobia and xenophobia in Europe threatens this constructive identity of Europe, which once contributed to its rise. The European Union cannot ensure its survival through its prejudices concerning Islam and Turkey; but the dominant actors in Turkish political life cannot achieve a democratic and prosperous country by suspending the European Union membership process.