How many times since Turkey formally started its so-called accession process in 2005 to join the European Union (EU), have the talks been frozen on the EU side citing Ankara’s human rights record? It’s a rhetorical question.
Recently, the Strasbourg-based European parliament approved a minor report from an even more obscure member of European Parliament (MEP) which argued simply that the admission process itself should be shelved.
The report said that Ankara had failed to protect rights and the rule of law, and Turkey’s transition to an executive presidential system last year had concentrated more power in the hands of President Erdogan, and therefore the membership process should be frozen.
In recent years, almost like clockwork, leading German MEPs—the former European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, and Elmar Brok—have both taken it in turn to scold Turkey, only to return to Ankara’s side when it suited their purposes, a pattern duplicated by other EU figures.
The hypocrisy is remarkable not for the EU’s naked political ambitions and geopolitical cravings—and how Turkey can play a key role in those—but also because old hands in Brussels always confide in journalists that Turkey will never be an EU member state.
In fact, both sides know this, but Ankara humors the EU, considering it a political courtesy to go along with the farce. Ankara has seen how the EU uses dirty tricks in its negotiations (as we have seen with Brexit), so it does not have much hope for a level playing field.
Any senior commission official will tell you, off the record, that the political will from the EU’s two client states—Germany and France—is not there.
Furthermore, since the very beginning, the EU’s role in these talks has always been a disingenuous one. Any senior commission official will tell you, off the record, that the political will from the EU’s two client states—Germany and France—is not there. Neither leader wishes to be part of a plan which opens the floodgates to millions of blue collar Turks rushing to these two countries looking for a better life. That would be political suicide.
EU Double Whammy
The hypocrisy is not only between the EU itself and its own member states, which like to keep the impression that the EU is powerful, multicultural, and able to look east in its expansion. True, the EU obsession with momentum (so as to not perish through lack of relevance) is more there today than ever, so expansion of the 28-member block is part of keeping the flashbulbs going off. But to humor Ankara with accession has a double whammy affect: Brussels can boast of being a truly international “super state” as it points to Turkey and says “not only will we take Turkey as the first Muslim country in the EU block, but we will also reform it as a benchmark for the whole Arab world.”
But this is a fantasy. The EU likes to dream. And dreaming big does not cost more. Both Paris and Berlin humor Brussels—and vice versa.
The MEP’s report is a convenient tool for the EC to continue the carrot and stick game. If you can push aside for one moment that the European parliament is a facsimile of an assembly created by the powerful Commission as a last minute thought to give the EU project some democratic accountability, then we see the report in the correct light.
The Turkey accession vote is non-binding and it is up to European governments to decide whether to abandon the talks, which is unlikely as few would like to see Erdogan lose his patience and send a few million Syrian refugees their way, to show them who is really in the stronger position.
The report is a sharp rebuke to Turkey, whose two-decade marathon of talks aimed at joining the EU has “been bogged down for years over its slow pace of reforms, a lack of a settlement on Cyprus and Europe’s reluctance to admit a populous Muslim nation,” according to Al Monitor. Turkey began formally negotiating its entry into the EU in 2005, although the behind-the-scenes talks started around 1999.
Old Europe will like to keep the farcical routine alive though. What the powerful European Commission is doing is apparent, with MEPs playing a servile role. Indeed, I would not be at all surprised to learn that the Commission more or less dictated the report to the MEP in the same way that powerful lobby groups’ consultants write amendments to MEPs’ “reports” at the committee level.
But more important is to examine whether the EU could ever entertain Turkey as an EU member, even if Ankara were to reform and conform its human rights to Brussels’ demands. It is not important whether France or Germany would ever throw its weight behind such a plan.
What is important is that the real reason why every now and then the EU itself has a tantrum and a panicky moment over Turkey’s accession is because the EU itself cannot cope with the implications of the first ever Muslim country becoming a full member.
Turks in Top Jobs
Each time the EU brings in new members, there is a job creation program to accommodate them.
Each time the EU brings in new members, there is a job creation program to accommodate them. In the past it has actually involved building entirely new Directorate Générales because new members must also be accorded at least one Commissioner post.
What top officials in the Commission cannot get their heads around—which explains why once a year there is this knee jerk reaction that resets any progress one side thinks is being made—is that, as part of the job quota, there would be an obligation on the European institutions to employ hundreds of Muslims as EU officials in top jobs.
Because of the sheer population size of Turkey, the numbers of jobs needed could run into the several thousands.
But, you may ask, what is the problem with that? Well first, the EU is almost an entirely homogenous institution whose only non-white-skinned employees are Moroccan security guards in the European parliament’s Brussels plenary.
In fact, there could not be a more racist, anti-multicultural organization in the entire world than the EU. It puts hairs on the backs of many senior officials when they even mull the idea of head-scarved women making decisions within the European Commission, or having Muslim prayer areas.
And if there are quotas on Muslims as EU officials, wouldn’t that also mean the same quota on the number of Muslim MEPs? And then, presumably, legislation also giving more rights to Muslims?
In fact, the only brown skinned people in the entire EU (which employs around 50,000 people) are British-Asian MEPs in the European parliament, an institution which prides itself on being a pantheon of truly useless people, if ever there was one. In fact, UKIP—the British anti-EU party which many would say is responsible for the referendum in the UK which brought about Brexit and what some would call the “far right”—has more black and Asian assistants in its entire party in Brussels than the entire EU.
It is racism and a white nationalist perspective on employment—not a concern for human rights—which lie at the heart of the anti-Turkey sentiment within the EU institutions.
It is racism and a white nationalist perspective on employment—not a concern for human rights—which lie at the heart of the anti-Turkey sentiment within the EU institutions. Britain and France are scrambling over themselves to sell arms to autocrat President al-Sisi in Egypt (with whom the EU now wants to work even more closely on intelligence), but the mere idea of Muslims in the powerful European Commission taking decisions on draft legislation in the house of this powerful elitist, secret organization is anathema.
No, the real reason for stalling Turkey’s accession to the EU is that it would blow up the whole house and bring about an Armageddon on the elitist values which the organization’s forefathers, Schuman and Spinelli, would still stand by today.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Inside Arabia.