Turkey does not now, or will it ever, belong in the European Union. This should not be a controversial statement; its leadership is edging closer to an authoritarian regime that even Russia would pale in comparison to, the populace show little appetite to move away from the veil of misogyny and bigotry through which their daily lives operate, and the subversive and dangerous vein of radical Islam is rooted in the mores of the Turkish people.
And it is not as a result of neglect or disaffection that these observations can be made. The Turkish government has deliberately nourished factions that foster beliefs that can be generously described as the antithesis of those encouraged in, not only the European Union, but also throughout the Western World as a whole. With one hand Turkey makes considerable demands of an organisation badly scarred, bur surviving, from one of the worst financial and political crises we have faced, and with the other, it seeks to supplant the very foundation on which that organisation is built.
Erdoğan, former Turkish Prime Minister and now President, has used the opportunity of the recent attempted coup to consolidate his grip on the country. His gutting of the judiciary, ensuring only those loyal to him remain, and his worrying campaign of arresting and imprisoning journalists known to harbour ill-will toward him, are signs that he has no legitimacy to demand concessions from the EU with regards to membership negotiations and visa-free travel. That his people happily support him and demand he go further – like re-institute the death penalty – show they are a nation fundamentally unsuitable for European Union membership.
Not only do the Turkish people now clamour for capital punishment, they also refuse to banish some of the most archaic and abusive customs that have encompassed the nation for centuries – the practices of child marriage and marital rape are becoming increasingly more common, despite them being, doubtlessly, horrifying and distasteful to the Western World. Like their close allies, Russia, Turkey is undertaking a policy of deliberately antagonising the EU and the USA. Their goal can only be instability and chaos, environments in which their idealised regimes of despotism would thrive and ultimately, regretfully and reluctantly, be embraced. This is intrinsically and wholly contrary to what the European Union serves as – an organisation born from the ruins of Europe to ensure that reality would never again come to pass.
Some more disposed to conspiracy and paranoia may theorise that the recent coup, which saw thousands of military, judicial, and media personnel disposed of or arrested, was actually orchestrated by Erdoğan himself to ensure he could seize even more power in the wake of the Syrian crisis (Syria being their next door neighbour), the rise of ISIS on Turkey’s doorstep, and the re-emergence of Russia (another historical neighbour) as a power after their Cold War détente. Whether or not this is true, Erdoğan did take advantage of the rebellion and, thanks to his mass arrests, now has a sympathetic media, an army firmly under his control, and a judiciary aligned to his ideals. Adding a devout public to the mix would suggest the recipe for a dictatorship, even if not explicitly described as such.
It’s no surprise that we have seen Erdoğan cosy up to Putin since the attempted coup. Their politics are broadly the same – a re-emergence of the great power their country enjoyed in the past – and the reality of their rule has similarities too; Putin has dispatched his opposition, disappeared investigative reporters, and undermined any semblance of term limits that the Russian Constitution imposed. And this new relationship between these two significant countries is worrying, especially when you consider their location. They are
And this new relationship between these two significant countries is worrying, especially when you consider their location. They are literally the border between the Western World and a world where war, instability, and zealotry reigns supreme. Turkey is the last barrier between the war-torn Middle East and the European Union. Russia is the biggest country in the world and, crucially, has massive reserves of oil and natural gas, particularly important when you consider that the other large reserves are in the unstable and terrorist-filled Middle East. An alliance between the two should not in any normal circumstance fill observers with dread, but when they are going down a route of authoritarian despotism, then only the worst outcomes are expected to be the result of their relationship.
And it’s this relationship that will have emboldened Turkey to undermine the European Union. Before the only realistic option for progress and economic growth, the EU has turned into a staunch critic of Erdoğan and, to him anyway, has sought to stymie his plans for Turkey. The EU has high demands and criteria for its membership, and even if you fulfil everything, the process can take decades and can simply be vetoed by another member state at any stage. Ever since its application, Turkey has faced an uphill battle, especially when nations like the United Kingdom and Germany have voiced concern about the country being in the EU.
So Turkey under Erdoğan has decided to forgo the EU, even if they haven’t officially said this. They’ve undermined democracy, they intend to bring back the death penalty, and to ensure favourable trade and economic circumstances they’ve allied themselves with Russia, a country openly hostile to the EU and to the USA.
And it’s not just Europeans who are concerned about potential Turkish membership of the EU. Even Americans now are noticing this rapid decline and openly voice hesitancies about the US continuing to value Turkey as an ally, and even go so far as to place US military constellations there. As I’ve said, Turkey is strategically located, and this is exactly why warming of their relations with Russia is concerning. Combined, they could severely hinder all Western military involvement in the Middle East, and ISIS and Syria in particular.
Turkey is not a reliable ally for the US and, importantly, Turkey is not a suitable candidate for the EU. Erdoğan is dangerous, its people ignorant, and society the fundamental opposite of the West. No attempt was ever made to change this, and that scholars and politicians thought that they would change is completely naive. Their internal politics these past few months have shown their true colours; they are a country to be rebuffed, not welcomed like friends.