Europe

Diplomacy Delayed as Fears Rise of a Permanent Rift Between Ankara and Brussels

Hurriyet Daily News reported on Friday that a planned meeting between European Union (EU) and Turkish officials is set to be postponed because diplomatic interactions between the parties are currently more likely to worsen relations rather than improve them:

The relationship between Ankara and Brussels is becoming increasingly estranged, but the relationship would go from bad to worse if the meeting went ahead as planned, an EU diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

“Under such an environment which has become tenser than earlier due to bans on Twitter and YouTube, we didn’t want to hold such a meeting. There would be too much bashing of Turkey around,” he said. “After the meeting, both sides would be unhappier than they were before,” he said.

The canceled meeting comes amid EU unease over recent moves by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to ban social media, turn water cannons on protesters, threaten to make political rivals “pay” for their opposition, impose conditions regarding when the EU is permitted to criticize Ankara, and so on.

The news comes just a day after veteran New York Times correspondent Alan Cowell assessed that Turkey under Erdogan had ‘turned its back on the EU':

A generation ago, it was Ankara’s assumption that its central role in the region’s geopolitics would translate into acceptance as a member of the prosperous European Union, now numbering 28 countries.

But that assumption has frayed. After months of increasingly authoritarian rule by an embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the portals of the club seem more than ever to be closing on Turkey. And paradoxically, Turkey’s most recent elections may deepen its estrangement, raising questions not only about European readiness to embrace Turkey but also about Mr. Erdogan’s interest in pursuing it.

“It is becoming clear that Erdogan’s Turkey does not belong to Europe,” a prominent German politician, Andreas Scheuer, said after the Turkish leader accepted his party’s victory in the municipal ballot on Sunday not just as a personal vindication but a mandate for what an opponent called a “witch hunt” against his adversaries.

Meanwhile Sohrab Ahmari, an editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal Europecalled on European conservatives to shun the AKP, citing among other things the Islamist party’s “contempt for such core conservative principles as individual liberty and separation of powers.”

[Photo: AFP News Agency / YouTube ]