THE BERLIN PULSE
Across the Bridge
In their relations with Turkey, Germany and the EU should …
… start a new dialogue
By Ozan Ceyhun, Former Member of the European Parliament; Special Advisor, Permanent Representation of Turkey to the EU, Brussels
The 24th of September 2017 will unfortunately be remembered as a shameful day in German history. For the first time after over sixty years, a right-wing party is represented in the Bundestag. Having led a campaign based on racism and xenophobia, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the third largest group in parliament. But Turkey stole the AfD – a party thriving on anti-migrant sentiments – part of its thunder and prevented a much worse election result as it rigorously implemented its part of the so-called “refugee-deal” thanks to which the number of migrants and refugees reaching the EU was significantly reduced.
The refugee agreement is paradigmatic for a change in the balance of power between Turkey and the EU. There is a new Turkey. This new Turkey still considers EU membership to be its most valuable option and is determined to continue to work towards EU membership. However, Turkey is no longer condemned to become an EU member. As trade relations with non-EU countries are improving by the day, Turkey can now prosper without EU membership, although this is not the preferred trajectory. Europeans should become more rational, acknowledge this new reality, and most significantly stop to interfere in Turkey’s domestic affairs.
Turkey takes its relations with Germany particularly seriously. It therefore watches closely as the new German government is being formed. Depending on the outcome of the coalition talks, Cem Özdemir, Co- Chair of the German Green Party who is known for his pugnacious attitude towards the current Turkish leadership may very well become Germany’s next Foreign Minister. Turkey will not try to determine what the new German government will or will not do. In particular, it respects any decision as to which politician will lead the Federal Foreign Office. Nonetheless, Turkey expects that the next Foreign Minister will responsibly represent the international role of such an important country as Germany, and that he or she will comply with the rules of political ethics and international diplomacy in Germany’s relation with Turkey. The relationship between Turkey and Germany should not depend on individual politicians. It is important to achieve a constructive and resilient connection. As the election period in both countries has come to an end, it is now the time for dialogue.