Turks can only Blame Themselves For not Joining the European Union
A major controversy has been brewing for some time throughout Europe about the wisdom of admitting Turkey to the European Union. Most Europeans oppose Turkey’s membership either out of prejudice or because of irreconcilable legal, political, economic and cultural differences.
Turkish leaders, rather than exerting the necessary effort to bring their country into compliance with EU requirements, have taken the easy way out by criticizing Europe for being anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim.
In order to pressure the EU to accept Turkey as is, Turkish leaders have adopted the clever tactic of putting the sole blame on the Europeans rather than on their own inability and unwillingness to make the necessary changes.
Turks have repeatedly claimed that Europeans have prevented them from joining the EU ever since 1963, when their country first became an associate member of the European Economic Community (the predecessor to the EU). What the Turks don’t say is that the lengthy delay has been due to their lack of compliance with EU requirements, not to mention the overthrow of the elected government by the military on three occasions. The Turks can only blame themselves for their inability to join the EU during all those years. There are two basic reasons for Turks’ lack of interest to comply with EU requirements: First, almost half the Turkish public is opposed to joining the EU. Turkey is a nation that is split into many diametrically opposed political, religious and ethnic factions. There is even a pending case in the Constitutional Court to outlaw the ruling political party and remove the President and Prime Minister from office.
As a result, Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan has a serious dilemma. He wants Turkey to join the EU in order to safeguard his party’s rule from radical nationalists and military hardliners, without making too many concessions to the Europeans, lest he be accused of catering to the enemies of the Turkish way of life. Consequently, he has been doing his best to appear as if he is making the required changes in Turkish laws without actually doing so. A good example of this political acrobatics is Article 301 of the penal code which criminalizes "insulting Turkishness" and stifles freedom of speech. This article is frequently used by nationalist prosecutors to silence all those who make any reference to the Armenian Genocide.
For the past 3 years, Erdogan has been continuously promising to change this draconian law at the insistence of EU officials. With each promise, Turkey gets accolades from gullible Europeans. Last week, once again, Erdogan announced that the Turkish Parliament will "soon" amend Article 301 which would in effect keep this controversial article in the penal code, while convincing the Europeans that Turkey is bringing its laws up to EU standards.
In the April 10th issue of the Turkish newspaper, “Today’s Zaman,” E. Baris Altintas wrote that even if Article 301 is completely removed, the penal code includes many other articles that would continue to stifle free speech. The author mentioned the following examples of other repressive laws:
-- Article 115 bans declaring one’s religious, social, political and philosophical beliefs;
-- Article 125: committing crimes against dignity;
-- Article 216: inciting people to hatred and hostility;
-- Article 217: provoking people to disobey the law;
-- Article 220: propagating an outlawed organization;
-- Article 222: banning the use of Kurdish letters q, x, and w;
-- Article 263: education in violation of the law;
-- Article 288: making public statements about an ongoing court case;
-- Article 299: uttering insults against the President;
-- Article 300: denigrating symbols of the sovereignty of the state;
-- Article 304: provoking foreign officials to declare war against Turkey or insult it;
-- Article 305: engaging in deeds against fundamental national benefits;
-- Article 309: attempting to overthrow the regime of the Turkish Republic;
-- Article 311: attempting to overthrow by violence the Turkish Parliament;
-- Article 318: discouraging the public from serving in the army;
-- Article 323: printing false news stories; and
-- Article 341: denigrating the flag of a foreign country.
Erdal Dogan, a lawyer for Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul a year ago, was quoted by “Today’s Zaman” as stating that even if all of these problematic articles were removed, nothing much would change in the Turkish judiciary. Certainly, nothing would change in Turkish society.
If Article 301 is any indication – which is still not amended after 3 years -- it would take more than 50 years for Turkey just to amend the above 17 articles. Of course, joining the EU would take even longer!
The fact is that Turkey has not been able to join and probably won’t be able to join the EU in the foreseeable future, not because of European opposition, but due to Turkey’s "deep state," radical nationalists and millions of its citizens who have no interest in adopting democratic European values!