On Turkey-EU moment of reckoning

By Abdul Ruff

Turkey’s efforts to genuinely align with other European powers have not yet yielded fruits as many European members of EU, like Germany, have created obstacles to Turkey’s official entry. Religious and civilizational issues have been brought in by EU to harm the European unity with Turkey playing its role. .

Western powers and their media lords want to declare Turkey as failed state like they have been decorating Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, etc. All these Muslim nations have been destabilized by militaries of US led NATO and their terror allies.

Fragile relationship

Turkey hopes to be fully defended from destabilization moves by the new referendum being put to vote across the globe as Turks and their Diaspora vote to take the historic decision. The result of the referendum on changing the constitution will be announced on April 16- a few days from now- President Recep Tayypip Erdogan is sure to win it for the nation.

With an adamant Europe on accepting Islamic Turkey as being their partner, even after 13 years, Turkey and Europe are locked in the bitterest of feuds, marked by threats, fiery epithets and petty slights that could mark the end of Turkey’s ambitious national project to gain coveted privileges as a full member of the European Union. President Erdogan has suggested as much last month that while Turkey could maintain its economic relations with Europe, “we may have the need to review ties at the political and administrative level.”

EU has realized now that they need an economically vibrant Turkey more than the other way round, though, true, beyond the heated rhetoric, both parties have much to lose from their fight, which threatens to further isolate Europe and Turkey at a moment when both are turning inward and succumbing to xenophobia and nationalist rhetoric.

The eventual breakup, if at all, would leave the European Union bereft of a Muslim-majority partner that might have served as a hopeful sign of inclusion and diversity, including for millions of Muslim immigrants living in Europe, and a counterbalance to right-wing, anti-immigrant parties that are gaining in prominence. Turkey has played a pivotal role in helping with the refugee crisis by acting huge chunk of refugees from Europe. This humanitarian assistance for Europe clearly makes the premises of Turkey when it is admitted into EU. Although Most Turks oppose the Turkey’s move to be a part of weak EU, Turkish government still pursued the case legally.

All over the world, in the name of democracy and party rule, just one person controls the nation and system A to Z. However, when it comes to an Islamic nation, all anti-Islamic forces join hands to question the ruler if he tries to strengthen the nation, its security, economy. We know in the name of democracy father Bush and his son Bush ruled the USA for years followed by Obama and now Trump is doing that with colonialist and Zionist mindset, driven by ultra fanaticism. .
After the its tensions with Israel, Turkey has been on the hit list of the anti-Islamic nations, forces, their media lords. After the shamefully failed coup in Istanbul to target President Erdogan and destabilize the only Islamist state on earth, the enemies of Islam have joined hands to use all available and created avenues to target Turkey and Erdogan but Turks, who decide the matters, stand solidly by president Erdogan.

European nations refuse recognize European Turkey being in European continent because that is an Islamic nation and defend Palestine while entire Europe is now anti-Islamic fort. The entry talks between Turkey and EU have been prolonging without any positive results as they oppose Turkey in the new EU.


Turkey’s economy grew at a faster pace than anticipated last quarter as households boosted spending, supporting activity following the failed military coup. Turkish households and the government boosted spending after July’s attempted military takeover. The political convulsions that followed hurt consumers and contributed to the economy’s first quarterly contraction in seven years. Private consumption, traditionally the main driver of growth, increased 5.7 percent. The Turkish currency strengthened after the report and was trading 0.3 percent higher at 3.6430 per dollar in Istanbul. Gross domestic product expanded 3.5 percent in the October-to-December period, faster than all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists, which saw an expansion of 1.9 percent. Seasonally adjusted output rose 3.8 percent from the previous three months.

The Turkish government adopted a series of expansionary fiscal policies to counter the slowdown, which may add as much as one percentage point to the budget deficit by year-end. Private demand picked up in the final quarter of 2016, fueled by household spending on everything from services to consumption goods. Based on strengthening consumer sentiment, it will probably increase at similar levels this year while public spending emerges as an even bigger driver of growth.

Government consumption could strengthen if fiscal policy is loosened further, drivers of growth are likely to shift. Investment should continue to pick up from last year’s slump. State spending, including on civil servants’ wages and purchases of goods and services, rose 0.8 percent in the final quarter of last year from the same period in 2016. Incentives to boost employment and agricultural production, and tax breaks for the tourism industry, were among stimulus measures rolled out.

The government took some action to boost private consumption. It was important for Turkey not to enter a “technical recession,” Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said in a televised interview after the GDP report. “There’s a moderate recovery in growth in the first quarter. The recovery will accelerate from the middle of the second quarter.” Government measures to ease restrictions on household demand usually have an effect with some delay, meaning faster consumption growth in 2017. Still the 2017 economy of Turkey is crying out for attention.

Democracy and authoritarian security

The coup attempt that failed to click has indeed caused serious problems for Turkey and its AKP government. And the Turkish state’s institutions are becoming more rigidly authoritarian to be very alert. The schism could have also immediate repercussions, most notably for a European Union deal with Turkey to stem the passage of migrants headed to Europe. Turkish officials have repeatedly threatened to scuttle the deal.

The latest arguments have been sparked by recent events, including a referendum in Turkey that could change its system of government from a parliamentary system to what is known as an executive presidency. A “yes” vote in the referendum would allow Erdogan to run for an additional term, and possibly remain in office until 2029. He could nominate a suitable candidate to replace him in due course who would continue the policies of the AKP.

Democracy is a usual phrase used by Western nations as par tof anti-Islamism. Turkish officials supporting the change have been prevented in recent weeks from addressing expatriate Turkish voters in Europe, drawing a furious reaction from Erdogan and his government that has included accusing the German and Dutch governments of Nazism. European officials, in turn, have become more openly critical of Erdogan’s government.

As the frequency of the insults has moved beyond diplomatic crisis to unbridled hostility, it has laid bare tensions that had been building for years. The recent, unusual flare-up was a sign of how severely the bond between Turkey and Europe has deteriorated. The EU calculates if they keep criticizing the AKP government as being authoritarian, the Islamist party would disappear!!! The fact is Turks love the party and government of Erdogan.

Ambassadors have been summoned and national leaders vilified on front pages from Ankara to Amsterdam. The frenzied rhetoric has also raised safety concerns, for Turks living in Europe and for Westerners residing in Turkey. Erdogan issued a warning last month, saying that unless the Europeans changed their behavior, “no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the streets safely and peacefully,” local media reported.

Turkey’s entry into the EU was always going to be a difficult proposition until recently but the refugee crisis made the Europe sit back and ponder over the valuable help of Turkey. Turkey — a Muslim-majority country of 71 million people that was belittled and referred to derisively by many European leaders as “too big, too poor, too different” — always had more to prove than Eastern European countries that were incorporated in the EU enlargement process

After Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party took power in 2002, the government renewed its push for membership and took steps, including abolishing the death penalty, that led to the beginning of formal negotiations in 2005. Over the next decade, Turkey’s bid proceeded in fits and starts, facing stiff resistance especially from Germany, the Netherlands and France. The moribund negotiations led to an “an accumulation of tension, frustration and disillusionment

European mindset

Turkey’s effort to formally become part of Europe stretches back decades, to 1959, when the country first applied to join the European Economic Union, the precursor to the European Union, which was formed in 1993. European critics of Turkey’s accession highlighted “cultural difference” — a euphemism for its status as a Muslim-majority country — as well as its ongoing dispute with Cyprus and its human rights abuses.

Europe and USA are undergoing a period of human rights abuses. A visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels said the referendum campaign in Turkey “is accelerating this moment of reckoning — laying bare the perennially unbridgeable inconsistencies in the relationship.” “It is becoming very difficult to continue with the pretense of Turkish accession” into the EU for several reasons, he said, including post-coup democratic constraints in Turkey and the political dynamics in Europe. “Unfortunately, we have reached a possible turning point in the Turkey-European relationship.”

There are differences of opinion about where to lay blame for the current impasse. Religion is the main problem for Europe as they are eager to promote only their religion- Christianity in EU and oppose Islamic faith and rituals.

Despite the obstacles, Turkey has taken measures, including consistently upgrading its democratic standards, but that has not thwarted the naysayers in Europe. Instead, “the exact opposite happened. The obstructionism on the European side strengthened the hand of those in Turkey skeptical of this vision, for a variety of reasons that have to do with ideology, governance, culture and so on.

Over time, they came to be more influential in charting the course for Turkey.” Aydintasbas said the present, worsening relationship “was not a foregone conclusion” but rather the result of misunderstandings and missed opportunities over years. “What would have happened had the Europeans been more willing to open the doors for Turkey, at a time when Turkey was desperately carrying out reforms?” she said. The last decade was an especially critical moment — a “high point” for Turkish democracy, between 2000 and 2008, when civilian leaders gained the upper hand over Turkey’s powerful military and enthusiasm for the European project in Turkey was at an all-time high.

But national leaders in Europe, including Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France, decided that Turkish accession was “not a good idea,” and in the years that followed, the accession effort stalled. In July, a failed coup attempt in Turkey further doomed the relationship, as the Turkish government embarked on wide-ranging crackdown on enemies and dissidents while castigating Europe for not expressing a sufficient amount of solidarity. In November, the European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution freezing the accession talks with Turkey.

Popularity of President Erdogan

Recep Erdogan guided Turkey through a fast developing economic power. Confetti and fireworks greeted Recep Erdogan when he returned to Turkey in December 2004, flush with the good news that his country had been invited to start talks to join the European Union. Addressing cheering crowds in the capital, Erdogan, then the prime minister, said the invitation was a sign of Turkey’s growing international clout. After decades of effort, Turkey “will take its rightful place among modern and civilized countries,” he said at the time. “From now on, democracy will have a different meaning, and human rights and freedoms will be practiced in a more meaningful manner.

Turks in Turkey and world over see president Erdogan who has brought the country forwards not just economically and politically but also added prestige to the nations as the savior but the enemies view him as driving the great European nation it to ruin and the global media project these opponents in Turkey who helped the anti-national coup as the hero of anti-Islamic media. The Turkish Diaspora in Europe, controlled by anti-Islamic forces and media lords, is split, but most of them support Erdogan, judging by a visit to the Turkish embassy in Bern, Germany – hot spot of anti-Islamic movement in Europe, where Turks are voting on a constitutional referendum.

One of the Turkish origin Swizz women, who says she has lived in Switzerland for 35 years, answers’s questions on behalf of the pro-Turkey group. “We voted for the future of our country. Turkey isn’t turning into a dictatorship as the Western media claim,” the young mother says, adding that she can’t understand why her children in Swiss schools are being told that democracy in Turkey isn’t in particularly good shape. “Turkey’s going in the right direction. Look at how things have developed in recent years while Erdogan’s been in power,” she says. She is convinced that those people getting arrested in Turkey have only themselves to blame. “We go there every year and don’t have any problems at all.”

One European family of Turks say: “We voted for the future of our country. Turkey isn’t turning into a dictatorship as the Western media claim,” the young mother says, adding that she can’t understand why her children in Swiss schools are being told that democracy in Turkey isn’t in particularly good shape.“Turkey’s going in the right direction. Look at how things have developed in recent years while Erdogan’s been in power,” she says. One young man with a baseball cap and sunglasses has voted, but it sounds as though he supports Erdogan. “I voted for a strong Turkey. Our aim is 2023,” he says earnestly, referring to the date of Turkey’s centenary. Until then Erdogan plans to portray himself as the father of a new nation who has boosted production and implemented great infrastructure projects. Turkey grew by 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. Added to upward revisions of the previous two quarters, that brings Turkey’s annual growth in 2016 to 2.9 percent. The same number was 6.1 percent in 2015. Turkish growth may have stumbled in 2016.

The government’s medium-term program (MTP) was expecting 2016 growth to reach 4.5 percent at the outset, but that was revised down to 3.2 percent. So with 2.9 percent growth in 2016, does it mean that the MTP was successful in anticipating the growth rate in 2016? Definitely not. The MTP numbers are from Mars, while the newly announced 2.9 percent is from Venus. They are based on different calculations of GDP. If we still had the old series, 2016 growth, due to the Coup and the slowdown in global growth, could well be around 1 percent with this performance. That is why Turkey’s growth is far below the country’s own target. Unemployment is rising to levels high even for Turkey, and those tourism jobs were going to be sorely needed. Can the country power through all this on a super presidency?

There are also domestic reasons for Turkey’s slowdown. Start with the “State of Emergency a la Turca” and rising current account financing needs, and the lack of a strong economic reform, not to speak of the sharp depreciation of the Turkish Lira. Uncertainties related to social cohesion issues related to Syrian refugees, Kurds and the others also belong in this category. Can we just expect all of these issues to be addressed by a referendum?

The Turkish economy, at the end of the day, is part of the European economy. Half of our exports go to European markets, where things were slow in 2016 and remain so today. 2016 was the ninth consecutive year where the EU’s growth was below the long-term average (1990-2007). This week’s Brexit letter to Brussels, as well as the French and German elections on the horizon, all makes things even more difficult for the EU. Uncertainty is never good for business. Turkey’s April referendum isn’t going to change any of that.

This war has dialed up existential angst in Turkey significantly. Cornered in the field, Ankara has been trying to be a spoiler, but keeps getting knocked down by regional powers and the U.S. As a consequence, we now have a PKK state on EU border.


Europe should recognize the right of Turkey to stay as an Islamic nation with an Islamist government.

All strenuous efforts by EU members to force Turkey give up its Islamic identity have failed and EU has now realized that Turkey shall remain an Islamic nation and being ruled by an Islamist party AKP which is firmly rooted in Islamic cause. The coup cum assassinate attempt in Turkey also failed. It seems the EU led by Germany is reckoning the fact that its needs Turkey as a member of European continent and EU. European states have to reckon with many problems the mega organization facing following the Brexit.

It is expected Turkey’s growth and political status would rebound automatically with a ‘Yes’ vote in the April referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system. The slowdown in Turkish growth is directly related to the regional uncertainties created by the Syrian civil war.

There are countries like Israel that do not want any rapprochement between Turkey and EU. But European states should guard themselves from negative influence of such forces on their future.

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Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is an independent analyst; columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics; expert on Mideast affairs, chronicler of foreign occupations & freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.); Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, former university teacher and author of eBooks/books

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