Over the last two years Turkey has experienced some hectic periods in terms of both domestic and foreign politics. Operation “Euphrates Shield” that launched in Syria, the developments in the fight against the PKK, the July 15 coup attempt and the subsequent state of emergency all caused significant changes people’s views of Turkey, both from the perspective of those within it and those in other countries. While progress was made in relations with Russia, American support for PYD in Syria had a relatively negative impact on relations with the US, and all these developments dragged EU relations into abeyance.
Without a doubt, it is not merely due because of Turkey’s politics that the relations with the EU have become problematic. The extreme right-wing leaders who have effectively emerged in the European Parliament in recent years have strongly raised their voices against both foreign and Muslim communities. The anti-foreigner rhetoric that borders racism seems to have long ago hampered the essential presence of the EU, which is supposed to be inclusive and unifying.
The decision about Turkey that was made as a result of the vote of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last week serves as the latest point reached by Turkey and the European Union. According to this decision, Turkey, one of the founding members of the European Commission, will be under its observation.
The aforementioned watch list was initially intended to accustom Eastern European countries ruled by communist political parties following the dissolution of the Soviet Union to the level of democracy in Western Europe. Turkey was not a country under communist rule, but because it was a Muslim country at the gate of the Middle East it was put on the aforementioned watch list and then was removed from this list as a result of a series of reforms that were carried out after the AKP took power. One of the most remarkable of these reforms was the abolition of the death penalty. Turkey is currently the only country on the list that has come back to it despite being removed in 2004.
PACE is not an organ of the European Union but the decision has emphasized the way the EU looks at Turkey for a while now. The European Union is undoubtedly not in a position to assess the events in Turkey properly and make a fair deduction accordingly. Because Europe, unlike Turkey, is not face to face with a nuisance like the PKK, was not subjected to a coup attempt by an internally organized group, nor did it ever face unrelenting wars on its borders. It seems difficult for the European Union, which evaluates the countries that it will incorporate based on its own norms, to be able to see and evaluate Turkey’s issues closely.
Indeed, within the scope of this decision, the EU’s one-sided viewpoint, its racist leaders, and the hatred stemming from Islamophobia and xenophobia can justify the fact that blame falls largely on Europe. Yet such decisions should be transformed into a positive one for Turkey in many ways. It should not be forgotten that Turkey’s request to join the EU, made many years ago, was a step taken in order to adopt the democracy and human rights of those countries. As a matter of fact, Turkey has made significant progress in terms of human rights with a series of reforms that took place immediately after its application for membership. It should be remembered that the steps in question are essentially the steps Turkey needs to take.
Europe is based on an elite model in which women are held in high esteem and are not oppressed, and in which science, art, aesthetics and quality are strongly emphasized. These are the aspects that are especially now urgently needed by Muslim countries. This is because some Muslim societies have been under the influence of superstitious mentalities for a long time, and they have either turned to false beliefs or remained passive in these issues. This passivity has hindered these societies not only in a social context, but also in the political arena, and have, to a large extent, prevented the formation of happy and creative societies.
Because art, besides encouraging people to appreciate beauty, can help societies to develop skills and fend off pessimism. It is for this reason that societies that are removed from art and aesthetics are societies that can often easily sink into pessimism, lose their spiritual richness, and can get bored quickly. For this reason, aspects such as art, quality and aesthetics, which the EU holds in high esteem, are absolutely necessary to adapt.
Democracy is not only a system recommended by Europe, but a model that is essentially Islamic. Our religion, which does not allow for compulsion, gives us the perfect recipe for democracy. Logically, then, the main democratic societies should be the Islamic societies. Turkey undoubtedly is moving along on the way of democratization. This can indeed be fully achieved by developing a style of democracy superior to that of Europe.
*The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya.