Significant milestone

Thursday, 2017-03-30 11:48:30
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan prepares for an interview in New York City, US September 19, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)
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NDO - Escalating tensions between Turkey and European countries are pushing the two sides further apart. Turkey does not hesitate to show its tough stance despite the prospect that the country’s door the European Union (EU)’s membership may shut. However, serious damage can force the parties to consider more carefully when making their decision for a relationship which has not as sweet as it could be.

That Turkey is preparing for a referendum on constitutional reform, which aims to increase the powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has seriously damaged, and can even potentially ruin the relationship between this country and the Europe. After an exchange of words with each other, Ankara announced that it would “review ties” with EU. President Erdogan said everything “from A to Z” would be up for renegotiation after the referendum. He also announced that his country may hold a Brexit-like referendum on pursuing European Union membership. In addition, negotiations on a migration deal between the two side also stand on the brink of collapse. This means that Turkey is no longer interested in EU, which has revealed many disagreement and splits from inside.

While relations between Turkey and the EU countries have not has not shown any sign of cooling down, Turkish President Erdogan has repeatedly made shocking statements. The European Commission summoned the Turkish ambassador to Brussels seeking explanations for the statements of President Erdogan that “Europeans will not walk safely on the streets” if they kept up their current attitude towards Turkey. He implied that Europeans would receive the same treatment he claimed Turks and Muslims in Europe experience. The president also has said he would keep up his “Nazi” taunts targeting European leaders as long as they keep on calling him a “dictator”.

European countries have opposed such moves from Turkey. Turkey summoned a top diplomat from the German embassy in Ankara after Germany's spy chief said he was not convinced Fethullah Gülen, a US.-based Muslim cleric, was behind a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. In a statement, Turkey's foreign ministry said the comments from BND head Bruno Kahl revealed a "tolerant and protectionist attitude" toward what Ankara calls the "Gulenist Terrorist Organisation". Meanwhile, the federal prosecutor’s office in Germany has opened a preliminary investigation of the alleged actions of Turkey’s MIT agency on tracking down those in Germany who were thought to be supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Denmark also summoned Turkey’s charge d’affaires for talks after local media reported that Danish citizens of Turkish origin critical of President Erdogan claimed they had been denounced to Ankara and the citizens were blacklisted as traitors to the nation. In Switzerland, a member of upper house of parliament, Josef Dittli, filed a lawsuit accusing Turkish organizations of spying on Turkish citizens and dual nationals living in Switzerland and requested an investigation. Tension has been rising high between the two sides.

There are always deep contradictions in the history of EU-Turkey relations. The persisted dispute over the Armenian genocide under the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) has kept the two sides in a mutual distrust. Despite the fact that Turkey and the EU have strengthened their cooperation in security and economics, and Turkey is also a NATO member, the relationship has deteriorated under President Erdogan.

The breakdown of Turkish-EU relations could have a negative impact on bilateral economic cooperation, as well as their efforts to resolve the refugee problem, which has been considered by Ankara as a way to negotiate with the EU. Diplomatic tensions have seriously damaged bilateral ties, which could push the Black Sea and the Balkans area into instability without being controlled. This is a significant milestone for Turkey and the EU to review their existing problems and make decisions for their future, in order to save their bilateral relationship.