Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 02:33:09 PM EST
It's occurred to me a couple of times recently to write a review of how Turkey's current problems stem, predictably, from the way the EU, driven by the xenophobic and Islamophobic concerns of the Christian Right. The excellent New European has done a story that saves me the trouble.
A senior Turkish diplomat told me: “Sarkozy started saying that even if Cyprus was solved, even if we met all the membership criteria, Turkey should not join the EU as it was not a true European country. He opposed the opening of many negotiating chapters. What with the Greek vetoes, that was it, really. We were so motivated to reform, but the wind was completely taken out of our sails… It was so counterproductive…”
Turks’ worst fears appeared to be confirmed – the 80% public support for EU membership has slid down to less than
half that. The EU was, after all, a Christian club, went the consensus, and doesn’t
want us. Well, in that case, Brussels can go hang.
“I would go as far as saying that if Europeans had not behaved like that, Turkey would not be in the situation we find it in today,” the Turkish diplomat continued. A man with extensive experience in Turkey’s EU adventure, he pointed out that had Greece not prevented Turkey even opening two key chapters of negotiation on core EU values – Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and 24 on justice, freedom and security – politicians would find it harder to meddle with the judiciary and sanction rampant rights abuses. “That was pretty unwise of them on all levels. Really short sighted.”
Without letting Erdogan off the hook, EU diplomats I spoke to agree with that assessment. US officials have said the same, and chastised Europe for losing Turkey. The blindingly bad hand played collectively by the EU and several key members, when Ankara was at its most compliant, upset the thin-skinned Erdogan.