A lawmaker of Turkish origin from the Flemish Parliament of Belgium, Fatma pehlivan, has affirmed the radical changes Turkey has been through over the last 10 years, suggesting EUrope has been a keen observer of the Turkish transition, which is easier to observe from outside of Turkey.
“Throughout the 10-year-long transition period, Turkey began facing its issues that go back a long time,” Pehlivan said on Monday in an interview with Today’s Zaman, following talks with Turkish officials on turkey’s accession process to the European Union. Pehlivan, who was visiting Turkey with a group of fellow Different Socialist Party (SP.A) lawmakers, highlighted that the country has been going through formidable changes at an economic, social and political level; developments which she suggested were now more visible to those looking in on Turkey from the outside.
The lawmaker said she found it promising that Turkish politicians are now solution-oriented and look for answers to deeply rooted obstacles; a move they were not capable of a decade ago. Pehlivan also noted that European politicians did not know much about Turkey back then, and no Turkish officials visited or promoted Turkey in Europe.
Highlighting Turkey’s growing strength and resistance in the face of acquiring EU membership, Pehlivan commented that “turkey should keep up its dignified stance regarding the EU accession process,” as she praised Turkey’s economic growth, which in return has allowed the country more dominance in Europe. “Turkey’s economic growth is the defining factor in its claims to have a say in its own region and in Europe,” she explained, adding, “Turkey currently follows countries like China and Brazil, which resonates [as is well observed] in Europe.”
Pehlivan also noted that Turkish development has become more visible at a time when the economy in western European countries is experiencing regression.
“The EU is stalling Turkish membership,” Pehlivan said as a matter-of-fact, but expressed her belief that the reasons for the delay do not only stem from Turkey, but largely from the EU. The lawmaker of Turkish origin also reminded of the recent enlargement in the EU that has shaken it. “The EU has opened its arms to 10 countries from the Eastern bloc, but was not able to digest this [the enlargement],” which, as Pehlivan said, caused the bloc to shut its doors in order to preserve itself. Although she stated that the EU was in favor of accepting Turkey, she also admitted that the union was making it difficult for the nation by “coming up with a reason every single time” to stall the accession period.
Pehlivan reiterated her call on Turkey to keep up with its decisive tone regarding its membership and to push on with its entry despite the obstacles being put in its way. She, however, noted that there were things Turkey had to also sort out and that it had to find solutions to its internal problems. On the other side of the coin, Pehlivan acknowledged that the EU had its own share of responsibilities in Turkey’s accession case, and criticized the bloc for not basing its decisions on reasonable and democratic solutions, but using its power to veto without elaborating. “The EU should give up on its dictating mood and form a democratic decision-making mechanism,” she finally added.
Turkey should be an example for the Middle East rather than a leader
Although Pehlivan acknowledged Turkey’s influential and determined stance on the Middle East, she suggested that Turkey contribute by setting an example to the region. “Turkey may be able to contribute to the Arab Spring with its just and democratic attitude,” she asserted, but added that the country should fight to become an example for the region rather than a leader. “Turkey should help bring democracy to the countries, which are going through the Arab Spring of transition,” Pehlivan concluded.