Dear Mr. Borrell,
On Thursday, you received your dear friend Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu with open arms in Brussels. You were the master of ceremonies. Normally for Turkey, a so-called “candidate country”, Çavuşoğlu’s host should have been Oliver Varhelyi, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement.
But those days are long gone. Turkey was dropped from the EU enlargement process to become a “third country”, coming under the remit of your External Action Service, which was led by your predecessor Federica Mogherini.
So, your “dear Mevlüt” arrived in Brussels with a brimming agenda. He was probably advised by your man in Ankara, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, a former close aid to the EU appeasement policy’s real mastermind, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The farce in Brussels on Thursday kicked off with your “landmark”, livestreamed statement to the press ahead of the meetings.
First and foremost, you mentioned a number of irrelevant issues and carefully refrained from saying anything about the sorry state of human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
As an after-thought, you added a reference concerning human rights in a subsequent transcript of your comments (and in brackets!)
Alas, the European Parliament had scheduled a debate on the human rights situation in Turkey the very same day. As you had an imperious task to soothe a Turk, you sent the Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli to deliver a speech to the parliament on your behalf. It goes without saying that your contemptuous words beside Çavuşoğlu superseded and cancelled out the cynical short speech in the Parliament.
Let us go through the irrelevant comments you made to the press, one by one.
Your new catchword of “de-escalation” to resolve tensions in eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean misses the point, since the escalation was the sole doing of Ankara. As a former foreign minister, I assume that you would not equate gunboat diplomacy with normal diplomacy.
You kept talking about “common values” and “principles between Ankara and the EU”. In reality, Ankara’s modus operandi contradicts the EU’s norms, standards, values and principles. Those norms, in fact, represent the very obstacles in the way of the “smooth” functioning of the Turkish regime.
This is why the system in Ankara can never be reformed.
You mentioned political processes to end regional conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, and called for Turkey’s cooperation. But you cannot and should not disregard that Turkey is an occupying force in Syria, keeping the civil war alive and producing more and more refugees. Turkey violates international law in Syria’s occupied territories, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
In Libya, you were personally involved in Operation Irini, a naval police force which targets embargo-busting Turkey in particular. And in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey was not a neutral party but a warring party.
One must wonder then which “political processes” you have in mind.
You also mentioned efforts by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to resume negotiations over the future of ethnically divided Cyprus. But the new Turkish-Cypriot administration in the north, totally subservient to Ankara, now insists on a two-state solution rejected by the rest of the world, including the EU.
No need to mention a so-called “Mediterranean Conference”, proposed by Turkey. Such a gathering of political leaders remains out of the question for EU member Cyprus because it would legitimise the breakaway administration in the north.
You also referred to Turkey’s accession negotiations by using the French word “adhésion”, which means adherence in English. This vocabulary is understandable though, as you adhere to Ankara’s viewpoints!
Apparently, your advisers were not vigilant enough when drafting your statement on Thursday. However, you cannot ignore, even less bypass, the European Council conclusions of June 26, 2018, which freeze, probably ad vitam aeternam, Turkey’s accession process as well as the revision of the customs union. These conclusions were underwritten by your own country, Spain, which despite its juicy commercial deals with Turkey, is not ready to discuss accession.
As for an exemption from Schengen visas for Turkey’s citizens, be aware that the ultimate obstacle remains political. EU policymakers are well aware of the existence of Turkish nationals among the ranks of the Islamic State (ISIS), growing Islamophobia and Turcophobia in Europe, the huge numbers of unemployed in Turkey, and potential asylum seekers who are growing in number due to the torrid political situation in the country. This prevents any positive outcome, never mind the EU criteria that is unfulfilled by Ankara.
Actually, Mr. Borrell, you are sitting on a non-job, so long as the EU does not have a common foreign policy and will not have one in the near future.
So, kindly refrain from pretending and going through the motions. Aside from national foreign policies, the EU’s external decisions, including enlargement policy, are taken by consensus among individual member states.
Now, let me tell you what we are fully aware of in Turkey and that you seem to arrogantly ignore.
– No Turkish citizen reasonably believes in the feasibility of EU membership, anymore.
– With the prospect of membership gone, there is no big carrot for the EU to wield.
So, stop pretending you have leverage over Ankara.
Cease all pretensions and be happy with the transactional deals with Turkey, like the refugee agreement. You don’t have to cheerlead your dear friend Mevlüt. He is more than ready to close the deal.
No-one has any illusions regarding the forthcoming “positive agenda” with Turkey, which you were tasked with devising after a vigorous push by a new pro-Ankara “axis”, led by Germany and with the participation of Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain.
We are fully aware that behind the empty talk of “positive action” and “strategic partnership”, there is actually a concrete, cynical agenda, with five sets of reasons to engage with Ankara.
You are terrified by the prospect of losing “NATO partner Turkey” to Russia, of jeopardising your economic interests in Turkey, of risking the refugee deal, of provoking aggressive elements of the Turkish diaspora in your countries and of accelerating Turkey’s implosion.
Alas, you still do not get that the more you appease President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the more he uses and abuses your fears, and the more his regime’s lifecycle is extended.
Let me end this letter by using your term, “vibrant Turkish society”.
You probably wanted to say, “civil society”, but never mind. Indeed, half of this society, who are staunch supporters of the Turkish dictator, “vibrates” – or shall we say, “trembles” – before him, either from ecstasy, secret fear, or because of cold, sickness and starvation.
You are probably unaware, yes, there is actually hunger in Turkey now.
As for the remaining half of society, there is ample factual information and data provided by European institutions about the “vibrations” of these people and their awful fates.
Let me just share two new figures. According to Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a leading parliamentarian of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), 1,855 Turkish citizens were tortured in police custody and prisons in 2020. That increases the total since the start of the governing Justice and Development Party’s (AKP’s) tenure in 2002 to 27,493 “vibrating” citizens subjected to torture, which has become systematic.
So kindly refrain from adding insult to injury. Acuerdo?
By the way: I am sure you have heard that member states in eastern Europe are quite unhappy with your trip to Moscow to appease another dictator, who just jailed his top opponent Alexei Navalny. Just like his opposite number in Turkey, Selâhattin Demirtaş, he is obviously someone you never really cared about.