My interview, Turkey’s EU Membership and Croatian model / Croatian daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija
December 10, 2012
I was interviewed by Goran Kotur from Slobodna Dalmacija, a Croatian daily newspaper about Turkey’s accession to the EU and Croatian model for the EU negotiations.
Kader Sevinç: “Croatian model is a multi-party model overcoming deep political fractures over the EU membership target. Unfortunately, Turkey’s AKP government is not even sharing the negotiation positions with the Parliament and the opposition parties. Most of the AKP politicians are busy in blaming the opposition for their own failures. This is one of the main reasons behind declining popular support and confidence on the EU process in Turkey.”
For the full interviewin Croatian:
My answers to Goran Kotur’s questions:
1. How high is EU support according to polls?
Turkey grew fast since the 1980s, entrenched its democracy, invested significantly to create a modern infrastructure, and developed active policies in the fields of energy, security, and new technologies. Nevertheless, in the last six years, its gumption for radical reforms has fallen progressively into stagnation in direct proportion to the proliferation of Turkey-skeptic rhetoric from France, Germany and Austria. In some cases this rhetoric has gone beyond the limits of skepticism, flirting with different tunes of xenophobia and turcophobia, in obvious contradiction with the values that the European Union claims to cherish in the 21st century. On the other hand the AKP government adopted policies of exclusion provoking a polarised society. Complicating matters is that public opinion in Turkey has become more sensitive to negative voices than to positive ones. An increasingly euro-skeptical mood suffused with nationalist sentiments has been the unfortunate corollary of this trend.
Aggravating the Turkish public’s deepening antipathy to accession is the EU’s inability to keep its promises on Cyprus that, in turn, severely damaged pro-European forces in Turkey. In the last two decades Brussels failed to seize the right moment to be proactive on Cyprus. When finally the EU asked Turkey to encourage a settlement to the Cyprus dispute by supporting the UN peace initiative, Turkey replied positively. In simultaneous referendums in both the north and the south of the island in 2004, Turkish Cypriots voted “yes” for the UN initiative, for reunification and for Europe. However, in an abrupt and calculated change of mind, the Greek Cypriot leadership pushed for a no-vote that resulted in the accession of a divided Cyprus to the EU, economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots continued and eventually a partial suspension of membership negotiations between Turkey and the EU occurred.
2. Is there a political consensus among the parties? How do parties cooperate?
There is a basic consensus in Turkey on the EU membership. The CHP as Turkey’s social-democratic party and main opposition has always been a firm defender of this target. Under a CHP government, Turkey’s contributions to Europe’s future will be more effective.
Our world is living through difficult times. The global financial system, the use of natural resources and the consumption society as we have known for several decades are no longer sustainable. These problems coincide with political crises and unsolved poverty dilemma around the world. The world truly needs that the actual transitions in the international system generate opportunities for a better global order. This is why our world needs a better Europe which will prove its potential to become a larger single market, social model and political unity in an expanding world.
This is the kind of Europe we all need. And this is why we believe in and work for a Turkey which will be part of the European Union soon.
– This will be a Turkey fulfilling the EU’s objective criteria for full-membership.
– A Turkey which will contribute on several ways to Europe’s global role.
– A successful Turkey in the EU membership process will bring Europe more geo-strategic role, economic dynamism, youthful force, natural, cultural and historical richness, security and energy.
CHP government will re-vitalise Turkey’s EU accession process. Turkey’s democratic future is in Europe. We see at least four pillars to support a new era for Turkey, beyond the current situation:
► Firstly, a renewed approach in Turkey to the EU process avoiding partisan and short-sighted political calculations and promoting at least bi-partisan or wider political and social consensus. The example of Croatia, having a monitoring committee led by the opposition party is very inspiring in this respect.
► Secondly, a political agenda adopting itself to the requirements of a secular democratic country which has to focus on the growth, jobs, reform of the judiciary system, educational reform, energy security, EU harmonization process and global competition policies within the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy
► Thirdly, better communicating to the Turkish public that the EU process is about upgrading the social standards, democracy and economy.
► Fourthly, the continuity of Turkey’s pro-European, constructive and result-oriented position on Cyprus. We support the actual Turkish Cypriote President’s policy (Let’s keep in mind the Turkish public’s deep deception. Turkey supported the UN peace plan as it was asked by the EU. The EU’s inability to keep its promises on Cyprus severely damaged the pro-European trends in Turkey).
► Last but not least, we also ask to the EU politicians to express their support to Turkey, addressing directly to the Turkish people. The confusion between “supporting Turkish people’s European future” and “supporting a government’s political destiny” should be avoided. Maybe this is not the case in reality, but there is such popular perception in Turkey and it is harming the European process of our country.
Turkey’s current problems can be better solved within the EU process, which should be re-energized by both the EU and Turkey through more rational policies and without questioning the target of membership. Let’s do not forget that the reinforcement of the Turkish democracy is a common European interest for all of us.
3. What are major problems according to the latest progress report? How are the problems being handled?
Cyprus and slowness of reforms in Turkey as well aggraveted by the AKP government such as freedom of press, corruption, women rights … Actually several chapters of negotiations are blocked by Cyrus and France. This is in contradiction with the European values and the interests of the citizens of the EU member countries. In an era of rising regional instability and global challenges, the decline in the momentum is a net loss for Turkey and Europe.
The end result is a strategic vacuum that harms common European interests on ongoing and forthcoming challenges, whether political, economic or social. Faster EU accession for Turkey will bring to Europe more political influence on the World affairs, a larger and more dynamic internal market, more protection of the energy supply roads and more democratic credibility.
4. Is there a speculative date when Turkey could join EU?
Not yet, but why not before 2020 if Turkey is led by a better government and the EU by more strategic thinking.
5. Why did you mention Croatia as a good example?
Because it a multi-party model overcoming deep political fractures over the EU membership target. Unfortunately, Turkey’s AKP government is not even sharing the negotiation positions with the Parliament and the opposition parties. Most of the AKP politicians are busy in blaming the opposition for their own failures. This is one of the main reasons behind declining popular support and confidence on the EU process in Turkey.
6. Have you met with any of the Croatian politicians involved in the accession process?
Yes, I had the opportunity to meet Croatian Chief-Negotiator for the EU, Mr. Vladimir Drobnjak at the occasion of the Bosphorus Conference in Istanbul. (SEE the picture enclosed). We had a very interesting exchange of views on the practice of negotiating with the EU.