Set Turkey free from EU accession talks - pro-govt columnist

Though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched Turkey’s full membership process, EU decision-makers should permanently stop accession talks with Turkey rather than suspend them, pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah said in an analysis.

Turkey's European Union accession process began in 1963 and still continues today, even as many new members have since joined the bloc.

“Greece, for example, joined the EU family in 1981 although it applied for membership the same year as Turkey,” Daily Sabah columnist Melih Altınok wrote on Thursday. “More surprisingly, South Cyprus was made a member while its sovereignty conflict continued – an open violation of EU codes. Eastern European states are another example of those who gained EU membership despite the fact that they hadn't implemented any EU criteria, as were demanded of Ankara.”

Erdoğan launched Turkey’s full membership negotiations in 2005, but talks have slowed in recent years. Last week, the European Parliament announced it would convene next month to vote on whether to suspend Turkey’s accession talks.

The parliament listed two main reasons for the decision, the Turkish government’s detention of officials from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and its dismissals, detentions and charges against more than 100,000 alleged plotters of the failed 2016 coup.

HDP detainees include former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in prison since 2016 despite the European Court of Human Rights calling for his release.

“The said HDP members have many times violated the Venice Commission principles by ‘systematically supporting violence’,” wrote Altınok, accusing the party of links to Kurdish insurgents. “Rather than shutting down the party, Turkey chooses democratic ways of dealing with the situation and brings HDP members before the courts.”

The columnist sees a double standard on the part of the EP. “Not so long ago, it was the Spanish army that prepared an operation against the independence referendum in the Basque region,” he wrote, adding that Turkey is unable to do the same.

“Within this context, I am sorry to say that I feel ashamed of being a supporter of Turkey's EU journey,” wrote Altınok. “So pure-minded was I that I was unfortunately convinced that the EU was here to strengthen Turkey's democracy and civil politics and encourage it to fight against the then-present system of military tutelage.”

Surveys show that Turkish people are disappointed by the EU's attitude toward their country, even as Erdoğan remains calm and rational, perhaps hoping his past efforts are not futile, according to Altınok.

“I, as a Turkish citizen, therefore, call for EU decision-makers to stop acting as if they know nothing about what's going on and permanently stop accessions talks with Turkey rather than suspend it,” he wrote. “Let us free.”