Democracy null and void
By Aydın Engin
Had a longer headline been possible, you would have been confronted by: “Democracy null and void ... Press freedom null and void ... Freedom of thought null and void ... Secularism null and void ... Human rights null and void ... Women’s rights null and void ...,” and so on. So, please read the headline as such and I will continue with Claw Mark. The European Parliament with a majority rarely seen since its inception recommended the freezing of Turkey’s accession negotiations. I have no idea if individual European countries and most significantly, the European Council, will comply with this recommendation. There is no need to consult a diviner. We will see. My colleague Cengiz Aktar, the leading – in my view - expert in the area, has made a thorough examination of this affair, its background and what it portends. If you are curious, you can find it in the latest edition of Birikim magazine. İnternet Gazetesi T24 has posted the same article. You can also find it there. I quote verbatim: “... The EU market accounted for 44 percent of Turkey’s exports in 2015, amounting to 61,607 million euro. The Union is by far Turkey’s number one import and export partner, and is the source of 65-70 percent of total direct foreign capital investments on both a cumulative and annual basis.” Even this brief quote speaks volumes. And this is just a limited assessment of the economic side of the affair.
But let us delve into another aspect of the affair and one whose importance, in my view, towers above that of the others. Let us inquire as to why the European Parliament took this decision. Was it because Turkey breached the European Union’s economic constitution, the Maastricht Criteria? Was it because she moved away from a free market economy and adopted features more typical of a statist economy? If anybody knows of any step taken by the AKP government in breach of the Maastricht Criteria – apart from failing to pay heed to reprimands against favouring one’s own cronies emanating from the EU over certain matters like the Public Procurement Law - I would like to hear from them. But, do not lose sight of another of the EU’s constitutions: the Copenhagen Criteria. All mention of the death penalty is banished from those criteria.
Those who mention it are shown the door. Within those criteria, the harshest (yes, harshest) penalties await those who attempt to stage a coup. But only those who attempt to stage a coup; those with actual involvement in this unpardonable crime against democracy are punished. Under those criteria, those who, using the coup as a pretext and deeming it to be a ‘Gift from God’, go on an assault like a bull in a china shop against all the country’s democrats, socialists, revolutionaries and government opponents and cram them into jail, deprive even those who were once on ‘nodding terms’ with the coupists of all means of subsistence and of their futures, convert schools to religious ‘seminaries’, make preparations to close newspapers and fill prison cells to the ceiling with journalists, are initially politely reminded of the Copenhagen Criteria.
Those who turn a deaf ear receive a slightly harsher warning. And the next stage? We are going through that stage now. The head of my people, Tayyip Erdoğan, along with one of his toadies, EU Minister Ömer Çelik, have puffed and fumed. They have proclaimed, “That decision is null and void for us.” Do you imagine they realise that this amounts to a statment that, “Democracy and freedoms and secularism are null and void for us?” I invite your votes on the question.
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