Out of sync, out of place
The latest developments that have put European unity into jeopardy must have also paralyzed the whole communications infrastructure of the European Union, otherwise how could EU ambassadors in Ankara go on behaving as if nothing had changed?
The EU has been experiencing one of the most critical phases of its existence. The problem hasn't arisen from the fact that the people from two countries, France and the Netherlands, rejected the European constitution, although that has also played a part. The most important facet of the EU crisis is the professed reluctance of Europeans to follow the course chosen by their leaders on their behalf. The confidence gap between the people and the leadership is there for everyone to see. There's very little difference between what happened in the countries affected by the "velvet revolution" and the EU member states. In fact both have experienced the same harsh reality: The power of the people.
We all became concerned when after the EU summit's decision last Dec. 17, which had been interpreted as the opening of the gates for Turkey to realize its 40-year-old dream of full membership, the Turkish government wasn't as jubilant as the event deserved. The government in Ankara has dragged its feet about implementing all the instructions it's received from Brussels. It even took quite some time to announce the name of the chief negotiator. Many have accused Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his government of behaving without due concern and promptness. Since Mr. Erdogan and his close associates are considered to be "inexperienced politicians," some have even claimed that they were blind to reality; the reality that only the prospect of EU membership would enable them to remain in power in a hostile domestic political environment.
Looking back from my vantage point I really appreciate Turkish politicians' astuteness and good judgment. What if they had acted differently, putting their entire political future in the hands of European politicians and bureaucrats by implementing all that's required of them, regardless of the price? The outcome of the referendums in Europe has eliminated the reasons for going along with the wishes of Brussels.
Of course, I know the rhetoric that what we've been doing in Turkey is good for our own people even if our EU prospects were to be rejected by Brussels and that we should still go ahead and adopt the Copenhagen Criteria. I have no reservations about the accuracy of these two premises. But, politics has its own logic and its own rules and that the Erdogan government behaved cautiously after Dec. 17 has proven its farsightedness in this matter.
This doesn't mean that Turkey will take a different course, much to the consternation of EU supporters, no, not a bit. I, for one, am very much in favor of our EU membership. What Turkey will do now is adjust itself to the changing mood in Europe and resynchronize its pace towards the EU. This shrewd attitude, hopefully, won't stop our march towards becoming a full EU member, far from it, and this will give the European public the time to think over what Turkey might bring to the fold as a EU member. We have to work harder to put our case to the people of Europe rather than trying to convince European politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels.
Our march towards the EU has been encouraged by the same EU leaders who are now under fire from their own constituencies, and Turkey is taking its own share of the blame. EU citizens are blaming the EU leadership for not heeding their objections about going too far too fast. They've suffered the consequences of radical, negative changes in almost all areas of their daily lives which have been imposed on them by the Brussels bureaucracy who have very little affinity with the people they serve.
The developments currently taking place in the EU could certainly affect Turkey's chance for full membership. Provided the negotiations start on time, the process could take more time than previously envisaged. Not only that, but the negotiations could also turn out to be excruciating for Turkey and this would cause a lot of consternation in the minds of the Turkish public.
I myself don't mind. If you believe, as I do, in the importance of the power of the people and the premise that the public commit lesser mistakes than the accident-prone politicians and unsavory unelected officials, you also would realize the necessity of prudence. It may take some time for European citizens to adjust themselves to the reality that the EU would benefit from these rapidly changing times by turning itself into a strategic power on par with the U.S. and that only Turkey, with its Islamic roots, can provide Europe the possibility of a different approach solving the grave problems of our era.
Turkey, occupying the most important strategic location in the world, could turn the scales in favor of whoever it chooses to lend its weight to. As long as Turkey stays in its current place on the map, people in Europe are bound to discover the importance of Turkey as an EU member.
I hope that the communications infrastructure of the EU is going to be repaired soon so that the discrepancy between the unpromising state of affairs in Brussels and the disorderly behavior of the EU ambassadors in Ankara can be eradicated. This out-of-sync situation doesn't help the image of the EU.
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