17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman
COLUMNISTS 19 December 2006, Tuesday 0 0

'People Biting Dogs' and our Relationship with Europe

Diplomats, journalists and think-tanks all agree that the European Union summit which ended a few days ago was the “drabbest, most non-eventful” meeting in recent years.

What made the summit so plain was Turkey’s absence. While leaders become more and more comfortable the more they retreat from the topic of Turkey, those following Brussels do not consider summits without Turkey to be authentic summits.

Habitual Turkey crises are the bread and butter of journalists. After the Monday agreement to suspend negotiations, a Turkish reporter said to his European colleagues, “We have been absorbed with this crisis for 20 days. Now we can have a little relief.”

Frowning they replied, “Well, are we going to give news flashes on agreements regarding agricultural matters now?”

While an Austrian journalist friend of mine was complaining about not being able to find anything to write about in the absence of a Turkey debate, a Spanish colleague was bemoaning how boring it was to write about bureaucratic details.

In other words, there was ‘blood, love, ambition, revenge and betrayal’ for Europe on the topic of Turkey.

The reason the summit was boring without Turkey was the consensus, or conjecture, that Europe had agreed upon at the beginning of the week. It was “conjecture” because if we look at the statement Greek Foreign Minister Georges Lillikas made yesterday, nothing has changed on the Western front and the Greeks are going to continue to veto accession talks with Turkey.

The EU decision on Turkey freezes 8 chapters and does not close the remaining chapters until the port issue is resolved, but it wants active discussion on the other 27 chapters as soon as possible.

The EU’s decision surprised everyone and was heavier than expected. Its intended message was: “We punished Turkey in a harsh way; now let’s rapidly pick up from where we left off.”

Foreign ministers and then leaders approved the decision on Turkey with an understanding to that effect.

If Lillikas puts his words into action, it means the Greek side is covertly making fun of the EU. If the Greek vetoes are to continue, just as there is no point in freezing 8 chapters - in the words of the Northern Cyprus president - it means that Brussels will carry out its relations with Turkey completely via the Greeks.

Anyway, the EU’s latest decision on Turkey is handicapped by big contradictions. For example, the EU does not say it supports the UN process and it gives the impression that it is escaping from a UN-based solution.

It is obvious to everyone who is running away from the ring, but the Greeks have scored a big success by putting the EU in the role of the escapist. It can be said that EU term president Finland published a declaration and gave support to the UN process. Everyone knows in Brussels that a call without a place in summit results has absolutely no combative value!

We will see this week whether or not the Greeks are going to put the EU in a ludicrous position. If they continue to veto during the permanent members meeting to be held on Wednesday, they will make fruitless all the efforts expended until now since the November 8th progress report. Then neither freezing 8 chapters nor the EU’s prestige will have any meaning left.

There is no need for Western colleagues to worry; we are probably starting a new Turkish crisis week. I am afraid that some time from now Turkey and its crises will lose value as news and there will be news flashes about “people biting dogs” and Turkey not having a crisis.


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