'Europe losing relevance' says Turkish spokesman

European Parliament call to freeze EU membership talks with Ankara comes amid 'anti-Turkish populism', writes Ibrahim Kalin

'Europe losing relevance' says Turkish spokesman File photo

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun


Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin described this week’s European Parliament decision as “scandalous” at a time when "Europe fails to address the real issues of growing racism, xenophobia, anti-immigration groups, radicalization, alienation and Islamophobia".

In a Saturday column for Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, Kalin wrote: "With its internal problems, micro-nationalisms and the Brexit process, Europe is narrowing down its strategic outlook and losing its relevance."

Kalin said the MEPs’ decision on Nov. 24 to urge a suspension of EU membership talks with Turkey "should be seen within a larger framework of misplaced fears, old prejudices and political populism".

"Though legally non-binding, the decision reflects the toxic political climate in the EP and its narrow strategic outlook.

“It is fed by the growing anti-Turkish political populism in Europe. It reveals the old prejudices of the old continent against Turkey and Turks. But it is part of a new pattern that says more about the eclipse of the European political horizon than Turkey per se," he wrote.

Erdogan ‘obsession’

Kalin also stressed that European officials attack Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan monthly "to score a point".

"Politicians, journalists, comedians, artists and others seem obsessed with Erdogan to the point where the word ‘Erdogan’ no longer refers to a person, the president of the Republic of Turkey, but to some nebulous notion that can be invoked every time these people need an ‘other’ to oppose, attack, vilify and feel good about themselves," he wrote.

"We have seen this Erdogan-obsessed crowd going wild with their diatribes, insults and fear-mongering and hoping that their deliberate provocations will lead to some reaction -- the kind of reaction which they will then use again to demonize Erdogan and ‘his supporters,’ another nebulous term that is so handy and useful that it can be employed anytime and anywhere when needed," he added.

"As Elif Zehra Kandemir, a Turkish-German Muslim woman, notes: 'Erdogan has become a kind of insult. A projection for old prejudices. An undying enemy. He's everything for which there's no place in Europe'," Kalin added.

Kalin wrote that instead of attacking Erdogan and the brave Turkish nation for stopping the July 2015 coup, the European Parliament, Der Spiegel and the likes should "bow before them to pay their respects".

"What the Turkish people saved on July 15 was not just Turkish democracy but democracy everywhere," he added.

"Luckily, there are many rational and sensible people in Europe that refuse to ride on the anti-Turkey wave of political opportunism. They uphold the values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law without discriminating against other nations," he wrote.

"They see the importance of working together for the urgent problems of our globalized and increasingly interdependent world.

“They do not seek to score cheap political points by riding on the anti-immigrant, xenophobic wave in Europe. They reject the pragmatist notion that democracy is good only when it serves our interests.

“They welcome immigration as a fact of the world in which we live and deal with it in a morally and politically responsible manner.”

Such people “see Turkey as a partner, not as an enemy,” Kalin added.

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