The refugee deal between Turkey and the EU has been in effect for several months now. Under the deal, in return for the refugees sent back to Turkey, a fund of 3 billion euros shall be provided to Turkey so as to spend on the refugees and a visa-free travel shall be granted for Turkey in Europe.
Turkey has met all but five of the 72 criteria stipulated by the EU for a visa-free travel. The condition of “the amendment,” in other words, “the alleviation of anti-terror laws in line with EU standards” has surprisingly become one of the terms of the deal. Turkey has been expected to tolerate the PKK terror organization. Turkish President Erdogan issued a harsh response to the EU: “Then, we’ll go our way, you go yours.”
VolkanBozk?r, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, responding to the issue with a similar reaction, stated that it was not possible for Turkey to put the EU’s request on its agenda in the midst of ongoing operations. As far as the minister is concerned, Turkey may reconsider the Readmission Agreement and the fund of 3 billion euros, still not provided to Turkey, if necessary. In this way, the leadership of Turkey articulated that tolerance is not an option in fight against terrorism.
These reactions are all pretty reasonable and proper. The EU countries are already NATO members. For that reason, they are obliged to support their NATO ally Turkey in the fight against terror. However, Europe has yet provided no support to Turkey in its fight against terrorism, on the contrary, some EU countries are known for their public support for the PKK. The PKK terrorist organization is allowed to have television and radio channels in a number of European countries and also publicly supported by some European politicians.
In Belgium, where the Turkey-EU negotiations were held in March, the Belgian authorities allowed the PKK to pitch tents in front of the European Parliament, which has stuck in our minds ever since. The support for the PKK terrorist organization has been always there and on the agenda by Europe since the foundation of the PKK in the 1980s.
When European countries faced the scourge of terrorism for the first time they took extraordinary precautions to suspend some provisions of the Declaration of Human Rights as long as desired. This kind of precautions is still enforced in France and Belgium following the Paris attacks. The suspension of the provisions of the Declaration has been so far most employed by England and included in “fight against terrorism.” These countries ask a country like Turkey, where people suffer from terrorism every day, to make concessions with regard to terrorism. This suggests one possibility: The PKK terrorist organization is still being protected by Europe.
We should ask ourselves one question: To what extent is the EU a potential ally with Turkey?
It would be beneficial for Turkey to make amendments in line with the EU standards, to carry out reforms on the issue of human rights, and to ensure a better understanding of democracy to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms. Turkey is a part of the Middle East but also a European country. The country, on one hand, should protect the beautiful traditions of the Middle East, on the other hand, should rely on the popular values of Europe.
The EU is an important community, which has managed to stay together despite all the differences of opinion. It is beyond question that having a relationship with such a community would be always in favor of Turkey not only in regard to full accession and but also in relation to its borders. However, the EU accession or a visa-free travel is not mandatory for the improvement of fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey. Turkey could easily live up to the reforms required for democracy without the need for a guide. As a matter of fact, we have an important value, which Europe lacks of, in regard to freedom of thought, democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms: The Qur’an. In fact, fundamental freedoms and liberties may prevail in a community in the light of our holy book. Even Europe does not have such a democracy described in the Qur’an.
As things stand, Europe is required to take into consideration an important issue: Europe is urgently in need of Turkey in regard to the law of refugees. On the other hand, Turkey does not need Europe for development and Europeanization. The country, by itself, could certainly achieve that by strengthening its own values. The EU has actually crossed the red lines of Turkey by proposing changes to the anti-terrorism law. The EU authorities made a huge strategic mistake this time.
The anti-terrorism law in Turkey should be in force in the strictest and most binding terms so as to include stronger precautions now and then, when necessary, and implemented by making no concessions. The communist terror should be ended by means of the implementation of the provisions of the law without any concession and an educational campaign. While our own soldiers lose their lives in the southeast of the country, we cannot afford to give precedence to the requests by Europe on the issue of fight against terrorism.