On 19 October the European Union (EU) Commission announced its Turkey report 2021, following on from the recent decision of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers calling for the release of businessman Osman Kavala and former Co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş.
The report noted that “there are serious deficiencies” in the functioning of Turkey’s democratic institutions and that the “decline in the fields of democracy and human rights continues.” Despite the report and the decisions made regarding human rights violations, the Turkish government has not taken any action, while the position of the EU and the Committee of Ministers is also a matter of debate.
Recalling that the EU report has been published regularly since 1998, Dr. Cengiz Aktar, Foreign Policy Expert and Lecturer at the University of Athens said that the last 5-6 reports are almost all copy-paste. Aktar spoke to Mezopotamya News Agency regarding the new report and emphasised that the report will not bring about any change.
“There’s nothing we don’t already know in this report. Human rights violations, anti-democratic practices, torture, long-term prison sentences, enormous pressure on the opposition and especially the HDP, pressure on elected mayors… The rule of law is in a sorry state in Turkey. They wrote all this down, but there’s nothing new. There’s nothing to it.”
He continued: “No one is interested in Turkey in the EU institutions, whether in Ankara, Brussels or the capitals of other EU member states. Extremely mediocre officers work on it out of duty. They have copied and pasted it from previous reports because ‘The report must be written.'”
Following the publication of the EU Commission Report on Turkey the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a response. The ministry said in a statement: “A Turkey Report has been published in which a double standard approach is exhibited against our country. We do not accept unfounded allegations and unfair criticisms.”
Commenting on the Foreign Ministry’s response, Aktar said, “Burhan Kuzu (former President of theTurkish Constitutional Commission) binned the 2012 report on television too. The same mentality persists here: ‘we do what we want to do, look to yourselves, who are you to advise us’… but this is how the regime in Turkey works now.”
EU negotiations is over
Aktar continued, pointing out that the EU could officially end Turkey’s accession process if it wanted to:
“It was effectively over in 2018. Two days after Erdogan was elected President, the EU made a decision, and froze the negotiations never to reopen them. Only a miracle would change things now. They could make this action official. But they’re afraid to do that, too. Because there are 6,000 German companies, and Germany sells weapons to Turkey. As do Italy and Spain. All these countries have economic interests.”
He added that the presence of refugees in Turkey are another reason for the EU not to officially end the negotiations.
“They’re using Turkey as a refugee holding site. And there is also Turkey’s membership of NATO. They don’t want to lose Turkey to Russia. So they’re still condiering this nomination, at least on paper, pretending that it still exists. It’s useless, of course. The only thing coming to Turkey is money, for the refugees.”
Recalling that Turkey is constantly at odds with Greece and Cyprus, Aktar pointed out that Turkey does not regard Crete as a Greek island, and claims that all its waters belong to Turkey.
“Turkey also made a fanciful agreement with Libya that no one else recognises. Turkey says, ‘It’s ours’, refuses to let anyone in, and sends a warship there. These things create problems and the Commission will probably have to draft a list of possible sanctions if nothing changes by the end of the year. And things aren’t going to change. Because now the regime is backed into a corner, it is seeking military action both against Greece and Cyprus on the one hand, and against Rojava and Basur (Iraqi Kurdistan) on the other. They are doing this to consolidate the nationalist vote.”
Turkey will not release Selahattin Demirtaş or Osman Kavala
As for Turkey’s failure to implement ECHR decisions, Aktar said:
“They will not implement them, especially at this time, there is no way they can release Selahattin or Osman. The regime is currently on a completely nationalist track. If we ask, ‘what happens if Turkey doesn’t release them?’ the reply is that the Council of Ministers may suspend Turkey’s vote in the Council of Europe and compose a response or impose a punishment. But any action to exclude Turkey from the Council of Europe requires a 2/3 majority. There are 47 Members of the Council of Europe, so 31 members are required.”
Aktar said that it would not be possible to find 31 countries that would vote against Turkey. He noted that the eastern countries will not vote against Turkey:
“They’re doing the same things to their own oppositions. That’s why you shouldn’t expect much from them.”
Finally Cengiz Aktar reflected upon Turkey’s near future.
“Turkey is going through hard days. This is only going to get worse because of the economic situation. One day Turkey will be completely unable to pay its debts. The Turkish lira has collapsed. This collapse will accelerate and continue downward. Who know what will happen after that? I expect things to get worse. No one should get excited that ‘democracy will come back, the Good Party and Republican People’s Party (CHP) will bring democracy to Turkey’. Meral Akşener (leader of the Good Party) is already standing to attention behind her chief (Erdogan), saying ‘we are a nation of soldiers, of course we will vote for the motion’. The CHP will do the same. The opposition does not offer an alternative. There’s only one group in Turkey that resists, and that is the Kurds, the HDP voters.”