Is Turkey’s membership of the European Union dead?

Al-Arab, London, September 21

Last August, The Economist’s editorial board suggested what most of us have known and believed for a long time: that Turkey’s EU accession process is dead. The Turkish government was quick to respond. In a letter published by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister and Head of European Affairs Faruk Kaymakci, the Turkish government asserted that “the European Union does not have the luxury of rejecting a more democratic Turkey, which fulfills all the criteria. objectives required for membership ”. Truth be told, Kaymakci’s point was valid. But the fact remains that the option of a “more democratic Turkey” does not exist. In fact, the opposite is true. Once again, the leading role played by the Directorate of Religious Affairs of Turkey in the 2022 budget is underlined, with the allocations of the directorate exceeding those of seven ministries, including the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs and the Presidency. This fits in with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long-standing intention to create a “religious generation”, which is reflected in the Turkish school curriculum. It also includes a reference to Turkish world rule and the new world order under Islam. The prominent role played by the leadership, especially its chairman, Ali Erbaş (who has just been re-appointed), is reflected in the way Erbaş has supported the government’s plans to control social media. Turkey is an ostensibly secular country. In any case, both the preamble and article 24 of the Turkish Constitution stipulate that no one is allowed to exploit religion for the purpose of personal or political influence. However, this has been the case since Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002. As a result, former AKP MP and columnist Rasul Toson argued that the principle of secularism should either be removed from the constitution or redefined, so as not to prevent religious people from practicing their religion. The Imam of Hagia Sophia also felt that secularism should be removed from the constitution and that the republic should be brought back to “factory settings” when there was no secularism in 1921 and 1924. In a recent ceremony marking the start of the judicial year, President Erdoğan announced that he would present plans for drafting a new constitution in the first months of 2022 and that a referendum would be held if necessary. The president of the Supreme Court of Appeal of Turkey also supported the proposal. Thus in 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, Turkey will be able to adopt a new Islamic constitution. –Robert Ellis (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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