Community of values?

by Dieter Sprock

The US has been pushing Brussels for a long time to admit Turkey into the EU. Since 1952 Turkey is already a NATO member and since 1999 also a candidate for EU membership. But the negotiations with the EU have been slow up to now. In addition to the Turkish refusal to recognise the EU member Cyprus, serious human rights violations as well as deficits in democracy and freedom of expression were responsible for this. Thus, only two of the overall 35 negotiating chapters that must be processed prior to accession have been completed so far, namely, those on science and research.
Now, the flow of refugees to Europe has put back in motion the stagnant negotiations. According to all media, the EU needs Turkey to solve the refugee crisis. In return to closer co-operation in the refugee question, Turkey demanded the revival of negotiations on EU membership.
On 14 December, the EU foreign ministers agreed to this request: They gave green light for the opening of the accession chapter on economic and monetary policy and on top promised to Turkey three billion euros for aids to refugees and visa facilitation for Turkish citizens.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke of a “historic day for Turkey” (tagesschau.de), and the EU leaders defended their decision with respect to allegations of Turkey’s lack of constitutionality. “Turkey has an eminent interest to cooperate with us, we have an interest to make a reasonable solid cooperation”, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn launching the talks (Spiegel online from 14 December 2015). And the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek was convinced that the launching of economic and monetary policy will have positive repercussions in the investors views (“Neue Zürcher Zeitung” from 15 December 2015).
While the EU promotes the accession negotiations with the “uncontrollable Turkish watchdog of the United States” (Albert Stahel in Current Concerns of 15 December 2015), the Turkish army intensified its war against the Kurds in the southeast of Turkey and even invaded Iraq – ironically in those areas where the Kurds have ensured stability and economic recovery and from where they lead the fight against the IS (Daesh).
On 19 December, the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” reported under the title “With tanks against a handful of young Kurds” about the increasing distress of the population in eastern Anatolia: “For four days there was no electricity and no water in their neighbourhood, said a man from Silopi. The big family ran out of food because the market was closed. Injured could not be taken to hospital. According to inhabitants the situation in Cizre is similarly bleak.”
Earlier this week, the government had moved 10,000 soldiers and members of special units and tanks into the region, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced: The military operations would continue until the areas have been cleaned. “You will be destroyed in these houses, buildings and trenches that you’ve dug here”, the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” quotes him.
It will be interesting to hear what the EU community of values, which flying the flag of the European Convention of Human Rights understands itself as a guardian of human rights and fundamental freedoms, has to say to this.     •