‘EU’s refusal to accept Turkey - obvious racism’
The EU has criticized the recent raid on opposition journalists and media organizations in Turkey. In response they received harsh criticism from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying “the EU should mind its own business and keep its own opinions to itself.”
RT:Why do you think the Turkish President responded so forcefully and undiplomatically to the EU?
Chris Bambery: First of all, we should remember that the EU has refused Turkey’s application to join the EU which has been left lying on the table. And that is essentially because of racism, because the German and French governments didn’t want Turkey to join the EU because they are not white and they are Muslim… because of pandering to racism at home, for instance, the Front Nationale.
Secondly, many other people feel that the EU is gouging the world, with their governments going around the world lecturing people on human rights. But they only lecture the governments they don’t like or they are falling out with, and ignore human rights abuses all the while. Perhaps they should be asking about Britain’s own involvement in the rendering of CIA suspects for torture. Maybe they should be asking about Britain’s involvement in GCHQ snooping on people’s telephone calls and social media. They don’t inquire about that for instance in Britain or France. But they are very quick to attack Turkey. There are issues in Turkey they should be critical of. I think the arrest of journalists is always something we should be wary about. But at the same time, for the EU to come and lecture other one in this way is obviously is going to get the response that is predicted. Perhaps he should quiz them about what their involvement has been in Ukraine. Once we get into this game the real culprit tends to be more the EU.
RT:The history between the EU and Turkey shows that Ankara applied to join the EU 27 years ago even before it was officially called the EU. After that there has been a list of more than 10 issues preventing Turkish membership. Even Turkey’s promise to relieve Europe’s dependency on Russian energy sources couldn’t change the EU’s mind. Is it possible that Turkey is pulling the plug on the idea of joining the EU and looking elsewhere?
CB: I think Ankara has given up that dream [as it had] the door slammed in its face. It is now involved in talks with Russia, a very interesting development which will get the eye of the EU. It is exerting its influence in the region, much of which was formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. We’ve seen its dubious role in the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq; it was the downside of this. But also the Turkish economy has been relatively successful in the recent years. It’s had difficulties in recent months and years, but it has been a success though. That suggests that Turkey doesn’t need EU membership to flourish. It can look towards other economies near-at-hand in order to build up relationships - Russia being a case in point. I think having had this for 27 years, the application to join the EU lying on the table. And the EU hasn’t been honest enough to say: “No, you are not going to join,” the Turks have had enough and are looking elsewhere for economic relationships. As the other countries understand, that in some way Europe’s day is done, and there are going to be more opportunities towards the East in particular and possibly towards China, as well as other developing economies.
RT:What does Turkey's possible change of direction mean for the alternative to the South Stream that Russia and Turkey are discussing?
CB: The possible end to the Cold War between Russia and Turkey is a very important development. We should remember that almost since 1917 - the creation of the former Soviet Union - Turkey has been a key Western ally in effective encirclement of first the USSR and then Russia. Any break of that is a tremendous importance. It would break some of the strategic encirclement that NATO and the West placed around Russia. And also economically, it will give Russia another very important trading partner, one of the major economies in the world, and a developing economy which could be very useful for the Russian economy at his time. And Brussels, Washington, London will not like these developments. They have been used to be having Turkey as a very close ally of the West. Erdogan has broken that reliance on the West and that is something he will not be forgiven for very quickly.
RT:Does the EU have a point when criticizing Turkey over the arrest of opposition journalists? According to EU representatives the arrests were beyond "European values"…
CB: What are these European values? As I see Britain has a dreadful record of censorship…And at a time when Britain and other European countries have been put on the spot over these revelations of CIA torture which they have been involved in - rendering prisoners, interrogating prisoners, using information gained through torture - maybe the West could answer them [Turkey]. If you want to look at any states there are usually human right issues and you could pick up one. Turkey has serious problems but for the EU to come in this, the Turks have every right to come around and say: “Why don’t you put your house in order first before you start lecturing us about all this stuff?”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.