Turkey’s President Erdoğan must see hypocrisy when Europe is at the table. Europe is begging Turkey for help with the migration crisis, speaking of values, but outsourcing its conscience to Turkey.

Many European politicians openly chastise President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his increasingly autocratic power play. Frankly, Erdoğan doesn’t really care. International pressure means little to him when he remains so popular at home, and some analysts observe this had led to a centralising doctrine twinned with a heavy handed use of the law against opponents, especially journalists.

It is Erdoğan’s dislike for a free press which undermines Turkey’s rule of law approach in the eyes of the European Union, and yet, the European Commission’s First Vice President Frans Timmermans is accused of failing to speak up against Erdoğan’s oppression of journalists and interference in the judicial system.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meeting Timmermans and Hahn in Istanbul on October 15, 2015 / ec.europa.eu

Erdoğan meeting Timmermans and Hahn in Istanbul in October 2015

Erdoğan must surely see hypocrisy when Europe is at the table. Spain’s media gag laws are cut from the same cloth as Erdoğan’s punishment of the press; Hungary and Poland are sailing towards greater limits on freedom of expression, and yet, Europe is begging Turkey for help to deal with the migration crisis.

Europe is refusing to live up to its own values and trying to outsource its conscience to Turkey.

Solving the migration crisis requires a form of partnership, for sure; but how can Europe have the audacity to criticise Turkey for imprisoning journalists when Europe itself denies basic human rights to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war, starvation and persecution?

The rule of law requires that he who seeks justice must come with clean hands. Europe’s hands are filthy with hypocrisy.

The voices of Europe’s elected politicians demanding media freedom in Turkey are undermined by the incoherent pragmatism of the European Commission’s migration deal. Timmermans public silence on Turkey’s human rights issues is deafening.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visiting Brussels in October 2015 / tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/

EU is trying to outsource its conscience to Turkey

Syria, refugees

Why has Turkey taken in millions of refugees? Why has Turkey paid for the humanitarian needs of millions of refugees, without complaint?

Why has Turkey changed its labour laws to allow 700,000 Syrian refugees the right to work?

Why has Turkey done everything Europe has failed to do, and yet, still it faces criticism for human rights failings? Is not the greater failing, the death of thousands in the Mediterranean?

In 1933, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk said: “Being ready does not mean that we will sit quietly and wait. We must get ready …  by strengthening the natural bridges that exist between us. Language is a bridge, religion is a bridge, history is a bridge. We must delve into our roots and reconstruct what history has divided. We can’t wait for them to approach us. We must reach out to them.”

And so it is. European voices must not fall silent in pursuit of better human rights in Turkey, but Europe must end its hypocrisy, not overlooking its own human rights failures. For he, or she, who seeks justice must come with clean hands. As Ataturk said, the natural bridges must be strengthened, and in our roots there is unity.

President Tusk visiting the Nizip refugee camp in Turkey, near the Syrian border, on September 10, 2015 / tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/

Council President Tusk visiting refugee camp in Turkey in September 2015

Islamic Turkey

Perhaps the single most challenging issue for Europe’s partnership with Turkey is the integration of a Muslim country within historically Christian Europe.

By using Islam for political leverage, Erdoğan risks deconstructing the world’s most successful de facto Islamic democracy – and aligning Turkey with chaos.

Atatürk’s legacy is a self-confident, tolerant, outward looking democracy. It has survived great wars and turbulence; but will it survive the erosion of rights?

For Turkey to be treated fairly by Europe, it too, must come, with clean hands.

  • Author: Maguire Brian, Euranet Plus News Agency
  • Further image credits:  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meeting Timmermans and Hahn in Istanbul on October 15, 2015 / ec.europa.eu | (middle 2) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visiting Brussels in October 2015 / tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu | (middle 3) President Tusk visiting the Nizip refugee camp in Turkey, near the Syrian border, on September 10, 2015 / tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu

 

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Franco would be proud. Spain has introduced a new public order law restricting journalists at public demonstrations. Press can be fined 30,000 euros for “disturbance of public safety.” Protestors – a title which can include journalists reporting the protest – can be fined 600,000 euros. This is Europe, the Union which awards the Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression.