Miltiadis Kyrkos, vice-chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee spoke to DW about the current situation in Turkey-EU relations. Mr. Krykos thinks Brussels’s influence on Ankara falls short.
Turkey’s bid for ascension to full EU membership is on rails, thanks to the strain the relations between the two sides have taken in the last few years. Miltiadis Kyrkos, vice-chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, says Turkey has to do more than simply stating their desire to become an EU member, but also that Brussels has to respond to the steps Turkey takes toward this goal.
Here are our questions, and Mr. Krykos’ answers:
DW Turkish: Where is the Turkey – EU relationship headed? Is it fair to say it is hopeless at this point?
Kyrkos: I wouldn’t call it hopeless, just look at what happened in Western Balkans, their relation to the EU changed virtually overnight. The EU’s decision to halt enlargement was overthrown with a fait accompli and just like that, they decided to let the Western Balkan states in. They were promised full membership. That takes it back to where we are: the situation is by no means hopeless, but it is requiring certain steps from Turkey. The State of Emergency has to go, detained journalists must be freed, and freedom of expression must be conveyed. Also, it takes more than just Erdogan intermittently saying that they would like to join the EU, concrete steps are needed. If Turkey practices what it preaches, the rules of the game may change instantly. Sure, we cannot talk about full membership in a year, there is too much work to be done. But when the stalemate ends, we can move rapidly.
How do you see the statements coming out of Turkey? Are Turkish politicians changing their rhetoric when they are talking with you versus when they are addressing the nation?
For sure. This is not the case in Turkey alone, all politicians do it. Greek politicians, for example, likened German politicians to Nazi during the economic crisis. But that’s just ordinary chatter. We give our listeners what they want to hear, but a politician’s responsibility is not to entertain the constituents, it is to guide them. So, we can say statements of that kind are not exactly helping Turkey’s cause.
Would you say that the institutions of the EU have any meaningful influence on Turkish politics?
We are still Turkey’s number one trading partner. We can even double the volume of trade between us. We are occasionally on the same page with Turkey when it comes to Middle East and the region around Turkey. It doesn’t happen very frequently though, because most of the time Turkey does not have an idea about how EU will act. It knows, however, perfectly well how we will not act. Brussels had been missing from the scene in the last few years. Brussels must have involved itself during the period that led to the July 15 coup attempt. There is a certain level of influence that EU exerts on Turkey, but it is nowhere near enough. This must change. Turkish government, regardless of who heads it, has to take some steps, and Brussels must make sure that the steps are not taken in vain. It’s like tango.
You mean the carrot-stick politics?
No, I mean carrot-carrot politics. I don’t think the “stick” part would work here. In fact, I haven’t seen it work anywhere.
Do you think it is the economy that has Turkey moving towards the EU again?
Not completely, but it certainly plays a part. Trade is another factor that helps the relationship. So is the refugee situation. I mean to say, there are certain areas where we are comfortably working together. For example, Turkey managed to undertake 64 of the 72 mandates that was required for visa-free travel, in a single month. That shows that when there is a mutual target, we can work towards it easily. EU’s future lies in Turkey, and vice versa. When you look at the East, it is a dead-end. The south is complete destruction. To the west lies your partners. That’s what we should be working on.
Originally published at: http://www.dw.com/tr/krykos-abnin-t%C3%BCrkiye-%C3%BCzerinde-etkisi-yeterli-de%C4%9Fil/a-43692825