Turkey and the European Union, A Fading Dream?
Just before the European Union decided upon whether opening negotiations with Turkey or not (3 October 2005), during that Austrian veto threat or the “Vor Wien Syndrome” , and the diplomatic salvo, I was in Istanbul, walking through the city’s heart – Istiklal Stret. In every corner, in every little grocery, I saw people watching the news in hypnotised eyes. I do recall the time, it was around three o’clock , and I asked the shop keeper near the Cicek Passage, what happened? He said “everything is over” and turned off the TV. At the time, the news from Brussels were gloomy indeed. However, by the end of the day, after many negotiations and diplomatic arms twisting Turkey got the green light.
Many water have passed down the bridge from then on -Panta Rei… Nowadays, the European Union is getting ready to suspend relations in case of the AKP’s closure. Nevertheless, this will mean the victory of “anti-EU” coalition in Turkey. Here we have to remind that both the CHP and the MHP are harsh critics of the Europeanisation politics. The AKP, by sidelining its trump card of EU accession, in a way blocked its own ticket to salvation. Now, the AKP leadership which was accepted as the rising hope, is discussed as one failed leadership in the European Union corridors. The discussion over whether the “national order t-shirt” can be torn and burnt away as promised in many occasions also came to a near end. Erdogan in the aftermath of his election victory showed a helping hand to all, and declared to be the leader of all, but not one specific power group. However, this promise was well forgotten, like many others…Not Europe but Turkey and a Turkey under a new hegemony was the main target.
As Gramsci says, commenting on the hegemonic West European states, ” The State was only an outer ditch, behind which there stood a powerful system of fortresses and earthworks”(1). The Turkish state/society complex is by no means a hegemonic one, but one in which there is a constant struggle to achieve hegemony. However, this does not mean that the former bearers of power left no fortresses and earthworks within the domain. Erdogan’s AKP was well aware of this fact and systamtically targeted these, whether by taking it from inside, or sidelining by creating parallel institutions a la Özal. So was the European Union project of the AKP just a pawn in the game? or was it the main destination as stated, the dilemma is also by now the dilemma of the Turkey itself.
(1). Robert Cox: “Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An Essay in method: Millennium: Journal of International Studies: Vol.12, No.2, pp.162-175.
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