The European Parliament this week is to discuss the recent developments in Turkey. If a resolution is adopted following the debate, one would expect that the Turkish Government will be criticized and warned over its actions in connection with the Gezi Park protestors. There is however the danger that some in the EP may want to use the occasion to issue a call for the suspension or further slowing down of accession negotiations with Turkey.
Such a call by the EU will be detrimental and wrong for at least three separate reasons:
1. AKP, no longer committed to the goal of EU membership, will exploit the EP’s call against the EU and try to turn it into political advantage domestically.
2. It will further erode the public’s enthusiasm for EU membership which is at a low in any case.
3. Most importantly, it would be a great disappointment for the protesters who are asking for democracy, respect and for fundamental rights and freedoms.
For these reasons, the EP’s message should in fact be in exactly the opposite direction. The EU should applaud the protesters ownership of democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms as a sign of hope for Turkey’s future. In any case, the EP should refrain from establishing a negative linkage between the Gezi Park process and Turkey’s accession negotiations. The EP should be questioning not Turkey’s EU membership, but AKP’s policies and practices found unacceptable.