This is being spun as a “rebuke” to Turkey because the talks on Turkey’s entry into the EU have been postponed for a few months.
The EU had planned to open a new chapter, or policy area, in talks with Turkey on Wednesday, reviving Turkey’s bid to join the bloc that has been virtually frozen for three years.
But Germany, backed by Austria and the Netherlands, blocked the plan, believing it would send the wrong signal so soon after police cracked down on protesters in Turkish cities.
EU governments on Tuesday backed a German-inspired proposal, agreeing to open the chapter on regional policy but delaying the formal launch of talks until after an October 9 report by the European Commission on reforms and human rights in Turkey.
The EU might have had some kind of leverage over Erdogan if it kept the talks frozen, instead of announcing that he would receive a slap on the wrist for the brutal attacks on Gezi civil rights protesters and that the road to the EU stays open.
The signal that the EU has sent is that it will conduct a formal rebuke that will not affect the actual talks. And that tells Erdogan that he can terrorize his people some more.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the EU agreement gave Turkey “a probationary period (for) how it handles basic rights for citizens, how it handles the right to demonstrate and the right to free speech.”
“In my view this is absolutely necessary because we cannot have a double standard in the European Union. We have a community of European values and this assumes that citizens’ basic rights will be respected,” he said in Vienna.
There is already a double standard. Each time police in Europe crack down on nativists while giving the Allah Akbar shouters a free hand to call for terrorism, it’s a double standard. When Muslim sex abuse gangs are ignored, there’s a double standard.
There are already two standards in the EU. Turkey is benefiting from the same double standard as Muslims in Paris or Stockholm or London are.
“While we have been disturbed by the reaction to the recent peaceful protests in Turkey, I believe the EU accession process is the most effective tool we have in influencing the reform agenda in Turkey,” Eamon Gilmore, foreign minister of Ireland, current holder of the EU presidency, said in a statement.
This is the official spin. The only way to reform Turkey is to bring it into the EU. The question is who is reforming whom and who is Islamizing whom?
Over Erdogan’s rule, civil rights in Turkey have gone downhill. Gezi is just an explosion of popular anger because of a lack of any real political opposition to keep the Islamist AKP in check.
Turkey had promised a “strong reaction” to any EU decision and Turkish press reports had said it could suspend negotiations with Brussels altogether if Wednesday’s talks were called off, but it toned down its criticism on Tuesday.
Because Erdogan got what he wanted. His intimidation strategy worked. Germany will make a face saving gesture by delaying the talks for a report. But the talks will go on. So who exactly is reforming whom in this scenario?