Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Turkey’s friends are EU’s enemies

Erdogan has friendly ties with groups that are considered terrorists by the EU. This alone should be a reason enough to put an end to the EU-Turkey accession talks. It clearly shows that terrorism has different definitions in the EU and Turkey and this can be a serious problem for the EU.

For a stable European continent, a buffer zone between Europe and the Arabic world would be desirable. This geographical reasoning is one of the motives for the current negotiations with Turkey regarding EU-membership. Middle Eastern conflicts are taking place right next door, so it is good to have an ally in between.

Although this argument might be used on the European side, it’s not the argument that resonates on the Turkish side. President Erdogan wants to establish a stable and strong Turkey, which is, of course, understandable. But this stable Turkey what Erdogan is working on, is not the ally that Europe has in mind. On the contrary, Turkey is keeping friendly ties with many wrong parties from the Arabic side, rather than keeping distance from them. For example, Erdogan maintains close relations with Hamas, Iran, Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria), etc.1

Furthermore, Erdogan’s behaviour is becoming more and more similar to the behaviour of the groups mentioned above. In the past few years, in particular since July 2016, Erdogan is tearing up any form of (legal) opposition.

The fact that Erdogan has another definition of terrorism than the EU has, became visible again last week when Angela Merkel visited Ankara. Merkel spoke about ‘Islamist terror’. Erdogan corrected her and said: ‘Personally, as a Muslim, as a Muslim president, I can never accept this.’2

When the president of a neighbouring country has such close ties with Islamic terroristic organisations and does not share the definition of the kind of terrorism that the EU faces, we need to ask ourselves whether it is wise and realistic to go ahead with the negotiations, or not.

The conclusion of the ECPM and its members is very clear: the negotiations must stop, otherwise Europe will bring the Middle Eastern problems literally closer to our borders.