Journal of Turkish Weekly
Oct 1 2005

October 3?

By Mustafa UNAL

Breaths are being held, three days before the historic rendezvous
with Europe. The air in Ankara is misty, even October 3 has not been
clarified yet, let alone the upcoming days.

No good news coming from Brussels and Strasbourg. The Cyprus issue
already was boring, now "Armenian genocide" has been added to it.
Christian Democratic MPs at the European Parliament, in a last minute
attack on Turkey, said, "Recognize the Armenian genocide." However,
their "no" reply to the "privileged partnership" proposal was good
news.

Turkey, which has adopted European Union principles as a basic
policy, is exerting maximum efforts to approach this negative
atmosphere that has emerged in a coolheaded manner. Prime Minister
[Recep Tayyip] Erdogan pointed out that the European Parliament does
not have the power to impose sanctions and said its decision will not
affect Turkey's membership process. Republican People's Party leader
Deniz Baykal, who was in London, said, "Turkey has done its homework.
Now Europe must keep its promise, nobody can push Turkish people into
a state of uncertainty that will last for years. "

While voting in Parliament on the recent decisions, there were two
deputies in Strasbourg from Turkey -- former minister Yasar Yakis and
Turkish Group chairman of the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly (COEPA), Murat Mercan... It would be useful to draw
attention to the fact that the European Parliament is not like the
Council of Europe, only member countries can send representatives.
Yakis and Mercan were not in the mechanism, they were there only for
lobbying purposes.

I talked to Mr. Mercan, but he had not yet overcome the shock of the
decisions, "The European parliamentarians' attitude disappointed me,'
he said. `I was gripped by genuine worries about the future of the
European Union. It was not a very conducive atmosphere, nonetheless,
I really never expected anything like this." One can't help asking, "
Wouldn't it have been better if there had been more deputies from the
government and opposition parties in Strasbourg?" Maybe it wouldn't
have been enough to change the result but the loud booming voice of
Turkey would have been heard from the lobbying being done.

The Strasbourg decisions are not acceptable to Turkey. It should be
emphasized that the Parliament's decisions reflect the inner
sensitivities of their public opinions. It must be accepted that
anti-Turkey winds have been blowing for long in European capitals.
Besides the sanctional aspect, these decisions are controversial as
well. The Negotiating Framework Document that will determine the
destiny of October 3 has not been clarified yet, it appears as if
efforts to reach a consensus will continue until the last minute.
Austria has not abandoned its obstinacy regarding privileged
partnership...

What will Turkey do in this situation? In fact, Turkey has fullfilled
all its liabilities during the last three years with incredible
performance. Now it is Europe's turn, it must thoroughly fulfill its
responsibilities. The Turks have every right to expect this. Turkey
has become introverted, it is discussing October 3 diplomatically and
with political will.

Turkey also has a public opinion just as Europe does. The society has
its sensitivities and the political will cannot ignore this. Choosing
not to go there and not to sit at the negotiation table is something
that cannot be ignored. The Framework Document will be the
determining factor. It is certain that giving shape to the contents
will last until the last minute. Which is right, never to sit at the
negotiating table or to give up during the negotiation process? are
now being evaluated. Who should abandon the negotiating table, Turkey
or Europe?

Turkey should continue its journey towards the West without making
any concessions on its basic policy and should not be the party that
surrenders, let Europe think about the rest... We accepted the risks
while setting out on this journey. That's why the expression, "a long
and difficult road," has been used from the very beginning. The road
to Brussels has sharp curves, it is full of obstacles. Besides, we
did not expect them to put a red carpet before us and throw roses
along our way.

It is not right to compare Turkey with other candidate countries such
as Bulgaria and Croatia. Turkey has a huge potential that can change
the Union's chemistry. That's why these obstacles emerge. October 3
is important not only in terms of foreign policy but in terms of
domestic political balances as well. Even if the last stop is not
Brussels, Turkey's journey towards the West must continue...