Tag Archives: european union

“There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey”

Turkish FlagTurkish President Abdullah Gul approves controversial Internet censorship law as an EU delegation to Ankara states that “There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey”.

Hurriyet has a piece today on the EU getting fed up with Turkey and Turkey’s attitude towards European values of freedom, freedom from censorship, freedom of information etc.

Amongst other things an EU delegation to Ankara has said (in regards to opening new chapters for Turkey’s EU accession bid)…
“That could happen in a normal-functioning negotiation process, but after witnessing the Turkish government’s move with regard to the HSYK Law, there is not much appetite left for such gestures,” the diplomat said. “There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey.”

The list of things that are happening and have happened in Turkey over just the last year are surely enough for any genuine appetite for Turkey to join the EU to be over.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has now approved the controversial Internet laws that allow sites to be blocked immediately without the need for a court order that was earlier passed in parliament following a fight by MPs.

Other major factors are the new judiciary rules, limiting their power and giving more power to the government, a serious attack on democracy in the country.

These moves by the AKP government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan come after members of his government and their family members where investigated for corruption in which 4.5 million dollars where found in shoe boxes at the house of former Halkbank general manager, Halkbank is state-run.
The government responded by sacking and relocating over 5,000 police officers and investigators in a great purge.

What now does the future hold for Turkey? Will it now as many Turkish secularists think, turn towards an Islamic Republic like Iran? An alliance with Russia? Upcoming elections could be interesting but no doubt they will actually lead to another AKP victory.

EU patience with Turkey running out

Turkish corrupt flagIt often seems like the European Unions patience with Turkey will go on forever, tolerating the blatant lack of democracy, human rights abuses, the illegal occupation of Cyprus and support of Islamic dictators.

So much to the delight of many both inside and outside of Turkey the EU has finally been more direct with its criticisms of Turkey and its leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his interference in the current high-level corruption probe griping the country.

Ankara Dec 2013

Ankara Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

“The latest developments, including the sacking of police chiefs and the instructions to police to inform authorities on investigations, raise serious concerns as regards the independence, efficiency and impartiality of the investigations and the separation of powers,” said a spokesman for Stefan Füle, the European commissioner for enlargement.

More of this from Hurriyet click here.

The Telegraph furthers this by also saying about the ongoing protests and riots on the streets of Turkey’s main cities.

From the Telegraph:

Mr Erdogan has sacked around 1000 police officers who were helping to carry out a bribery inquiry that engulfed the upper echelons of his party last week.

Other officers have now been ordered to brief government officials on the progress of the corruption probe, which critics say will allow suspects to be tipped off in advance.

While the prime minister claims that the probe is part of a politically-motivated smear campaign, the inquiry has already led to a repeat of the anti-government rallies that took place earlier in the summer.

On Monday, the European Union warned Mr Erdogan that he was in direct breach of EU rules safeguarding the independence of the judiciary, which is also a key condition for Turkey’s EU membership bid.

Turkey; Things go from bad to worse

Turkish corrupt flagFollowing on from the corruption raids yesterday that saw prominent people and family of ministers arrested the obvious corruption continues as the police chiefs (5 of them) that oversaw the raids have been fired.

Yes that’s right, corruption in Turkey was exposed and those who exposed it lost their jobs in true farcical manner.

The arrest count has since gone up with the latest reports said to be up to 84 people.

In a continuation from that story 4.5 million dollars was found in shoe boxes in the home of the arrested Halkbank manager.

Istanbul’s historical region mayor Mustafa Demir has been accused of putting money people peoples safety in allowing construction projects to go ahead and turning a blind-eye to dodgy developers in exchange for cash.

These are truly chaotic times for Turkey, the AKP, PM Erdogan and its fake democracy.

The European Union (EU) should take note of these goings on and not allow the visa free movement of Turkish citizens within its territory which is expected to happen within 3 years.
Certainly with the huge democratic deficit in Turkey their EU entry application should be put on hold indefinitely.

The EU; Ukraine and Turkey

EU flagFollowing on from the ‘list of countries with more than 100,000 prisoners as a percentage of their population‘ in which there is one EU candidate country (Turkey) and one ‘Eastern Partnership participant (ENP)’ (and potential EU candidate) (Ukraine).

I won’t go as far as to say that these two countries hold genuine ambitions of joining the European Union but it remains a distinct possibility. With Ukraine the 5th worst in the world and Turkey the 10th it once again highlights both how far these countries have to come and how alien their values are from European ones.

The question once again is, ‘Where does the European border really sit?’ and ‘Should the EU continue strong relations with countries holding opposite values?‘.

European shared values map

Blue: EU. Green: Candidates. Brown: ENP.

Ukraine has been in the news a fair bit lately what with the political tug-of-war the EU and Russia seem to be doing for the loyalty of Ukraine. For those who have been living in cave Ukraine was set to sign a free trade and association agreement with the EU however after pressure from Russia’s Vladimir Putin the agreement has been delayed. The delay has caused much unrest in Ukraine with pro-EU protests getting the capital Kiev.
However with the large prison numbers, many of which can be considered political prisoners (such as the accused former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko) should this be the last connection between the two entities? Sign the trade agreement and that’s it. Until Ukraine can sort itself out and adopt a more democratic approach any further EU/Ukraine agreements should be off limits.

Turkey it seems is forever hitting headlines and tables for all the wrong reasons (many of which I have written about before). Once again Turkey hits the top 10 on the prisoners list, many of which are either journalists or political prisoners. Turkey has such appalling levels of free speech even the mere suggestion of joining the EU should be off limits. Turkey who jails journalists and proponents of free speech and the democratic process, Turkey who treats women as second class citizens and sex objects, Turkey who refuses to recognise the Armenian genocides, Turkey who illegally captured half of Cyprus and the Turkey that is turning away from secularism.

These are not the values and standards of Europe, there is no place within our community for people like you.

Turkey’s attitude – The EU and beyond

Turkish FlagToday’s news from Turkey (reported here from the Turkish media and here from the UK media) is about comments Egemen Bağış has made. Mr Bağış is the Turkish minister for EU Affairs and chief negotiator of Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union.

Mr Bağış is currently under investigation by Swiss authorities for genocide denial with comments he made in 2012 in Switzerland in reference to the Armenian genocide carried out by the Ottomans in 1915.

Mr Bağış has said that he believes that Turkey will never become a full member of the European Union , citing ‘stiff opposition’ and ‘European prejudices’. There is certainly strong opposition to Turkey’s application to join the EU but it’s not prejudice.

As I have written about before and has been well documented the opposition to Turkey’s application is mainly due to several specific issues such as:

The Cyprus issue
The Armenian genocide
Freedom of speech
Freedom of the press

However some of the opposition is more general, the European Union is a union of countries that share the same or similar values. Yes the union is an economic union, a financial union, a political union but it is also a social union, a union of shared culture and values.

Any European who has lived in Turkey or spent a reasonable amount of time in Turkey will know that Turkey isn’t a European country. This is not about geography, this is about culture, values and attitudes.

I want to focus on the general attitude of the Turkish people and their government (as I have already covered in part about the other aspects)…

The attitude is one of irresponsibility and denial, one of misplaced arrogance. This can be seen both past and present but we cannot change the past so let’s think about the present.
This can be seen by their words and actions in relation to the listed above issues but also from a personal perspective I have seen this when working with Turkish people and living in Turkey (mentioned in previous blog posts).

They have the attitude of male superiority over women, that their influence and history is greater than that of other nations and the complete failure to recognise their own failings at both the individual and national level. The Turkish people fail to accept any global reports that reflect badly on Turkey (such as HDI, freedom of the press etc) saying that they are a conspiracy. It’s hard to provide examples with evidence as these are from conversations I have had personally but here are a few just from the last couple of days (in the news)…

Turkey sets up ‘Turkvision’ because it keeps losing the EuroVision song contest.

Turkey gets humiliated at the EuroBasket (European basketball competition) after it’s best player is sent home for exercising free speech.

Mr Bağış blames Europe for Turkey not recognising and dealing with its own problem (Armenia, freedom, Cyprus etc) because they are ‘prejudice’.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames foreigners for the Gezi Park protests.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames prejudice for not winning the right to hold the Olympic games

Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames anyone and everyone for anything and everything (except himself or his party)

Something the Turkish people should learn is what ‘prejudice’ means:

Prejudice – Preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience.

Europe is NOT prejudice because its reasons ARE based on reason and experience.

2 years in Turkey

Turkish FlagThe introduction

Firstly let me set the scene, I am a 29 years old and I’m from Britain. I have spend the last two years in Turkey and most of my experience comes from living and working in the capital city Ankara.

When I arrived in Turkey from China I came with an open mind, I had not been to the country before and in all honesty knew very little about the country. One of my relatives has been to the country several times before (as a tourist) and always spoke highly of the country and its people.

Here, is my experience…

The job

I wont go into exact detail as to not incriminate myself and others.
Before I left China I searched for a job and was promptly offered a teaching position in Ankara, I explained my experience and qualifications and we agreed that I would come and work for them.

After I arrived I started work within a couple of days, a month or so later the company took me to the immigration office and sorted out a residence permit. I was told that was enough and of course I continued to work. A year later the police come knocking at the company for illegally employing foreigners and after extensive denial the company and I depart. Of course as everyone knows, you need a work permit to work!

Much later another former employee threatened me on facebook for my comments about news articles relating to Turkey.

The apartment

Leaving the job was not a problem as by this time I was already engaged to and living with a wonderful Turkish woman. We decided that her apartment was not in a suitable location for working in the city centre with all the transport time and costs so we went apartment hunting.

Unfortunately we very quickly found out that no-one would rent their apartment to us, why? Because we are not married! She was told by every landlord that if they see people of the opposite sex coming in and out of the apartment that she will be evicted!!

The car

So after staying put in her old apartment we decide that the next best thing is to buy a car to make life easier.

Cars in Turkey are very expensive, even second-hand ones, so we eventually find one that seems nice and is in our price range. Before we hand over the cash and sign for ownership the car is taken to a garage to check that everything is ok, which of course it is.

We pay for the car and sign for ownership, all notorised no problems… however when we take it to OUR garage, we find it’s been in a significant previous accident (which the records didn’t show) and that the engine size is smaller than stated, in fact, the engine is so small that it struggles to get up and down the numerous hills and slopes that make up the city of Ankara!

The crash

This one sounds worse than it actually is to be fair but I have to put it in some perspective….

I have lived in a few different countries, most of which with terrible road safety records (China, Turkey and Cyprus). It took 29 years to be involved in my first (and hopefully last) road crash. Travelling on a coach from Ankara to Bursa we were hit my a car, I’m not sure how it happened exactly but we felt a hit and then heard a screech followed by another crash and then we saw the car limp in front of us and pull over to the side. The was little damage to us put their car had to be towed away. Thankfully no-one was hurt.

The cat

A sad story, you could say that this sums up capitalism or life in a developing country.

My fiance and I bought a cat, a beautiful Scottish Fold female we called Illa. We bought her from a pet shop in Ankara, who were the middle men for a breeder in Istanbul. The cat arrived about two weeks later to our home, a small and very adorable cat which we loved very much. We noticed that Illa had external parasites and wanting the best health for the cat we took her to a vet in Golbasi (on the outskirts of Ankara) which is the closest to where we lived.

The ‘vet’ prescribed some medication, unfortunately wrong medication and in the wrong dosage, instead of a pill for small cats, he prescribed for dogs and said to give the quarters of the pill in a much shorter time apart.

After Illa stopped eating and drinking we decided to take her to Ankara’s animal University who did all they could and immediately recognised the problem. Unfortunately not only was Illa effectively poisoned she was taken away from her mother too young and still needed her mothers milk.

It later came to our attention that many vets in Turkey are actually operating using a bought license and are not trained veterinarians. So we have a breeder and a pet shop who only care about getting their money and not the welfare of the animal and we have a ‘vet’ who also only cares about making money and not the animal.

We had Illa for 10 days before she eventually died after taking her to the animal university every day after she became sick.

The marriage

Getting married in Turkey as a foreigner to a Turkish citizen (as may be true for other countries) is a bureaucratic nightmare. One aspect of the process really got to me though, the proof that Turkey is NOT a secular country, as part of the process there is one particular form which includes a space for religion. Of course I left this blank as I have no religion, this however is not acceptable, neither is atheist or agnostic. There HAD to be a religion, either Muslim or Christian, in the end in order to proceed with the marriage I told him to put what he likes, so he did! No freedom of choice here!

The exit

After we got married, we went to the immigration office a few days before my residence permit expires and along with the marriage certificate and the fees I got a 1 year extension (from 27th April 2013).

Leaving Turkey at the Bulgarian border I was taken off the coach and asked why I didn’t have a valid permit to be in Turkey, when I have them my Turkish citizen number and explained the situation the said that I didn’t have a valid permit and that it expired (yes you guessed it) on the 27th April (with today being the 19th August). Of course I was promptly fined 65 euros and told not to come back for 3 months!

The marriage (again)

I am now married to a beautiful and wonderful Turkish woman who is part of a lovely warm, friendly and welcoming family and I couldn’t be happier.

>The exit (again)

The second best thing in my life (after my wife) is leaving Turkey.

The summary

So I came to Turkey with an open-mind, ready to embrace another culture with it’s customs and habits. I welcomed the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union so that it may break down the barriers of Islamophobia, that Europeans and Muslims can learn to understand each other and realise that we’re not so different after all.

Now I think and feel pretty much the opposite, the Chinese share more similarities with Europe than Turkey does. The values that the average Turk holds dear are not compatible with European values. Europe and Europeans value democracy and freedom of choice and expression, sadly, generally speaking Turkish people do not.

Aside from my personal experiences almost daily you can find examples from the Turkish press (in English) where this is proved to be true. Children being sold into marriage, girls gang-raped and the girl gets sentenced and the men go free. Where if you tell someone you do not believe in God they can kill you. Sadly the list is almost endless.

I have met some very nice Turkish people, some have become very close friends but these people are in the vast minority and they themselves hide who they really are, what they really think because to express oneself freely in Turkey means to risk your own life.

Turkey’s EU accession bid

Turkey EU flagTurkish newspaper, Hurriyet’s ‘Daily News’, has an article on Turkey’s European Union (EU) accession bid featuring comments from former British foreign secretary Jack Straw (labour) and Turkey’s Under-secretary of the Ministry of EU Affairs Haluk Ilıcak.

The article title is a bit misleading, as is to be expected from today’s ‘journalism’. The article implies that Turkey isn’t that interested in the EU accession bid but just wants to raise Turkey to the same level of European standards but Haluk Ilıcak says “Our aim is to achieve a smooth accession process” (to the EU).

‘Once Turkey succeeds in completing the chapters and improving itself to reach European standards, the actual accession is not that important, and could be debated’

When Turkey completes the chapters and reaches European standards?? Sounds like someone is living in a fantasy land…
Turkey, at its current rate of ‘progress’ will NEVER reach European standards, if you are going backwards you cannot reach something ahead of you!

‘Ilıcak said some of the chapters were politically blocked, but Turkish authorities were doing their bests to tackle as many chapters as possible, seeing them as steps of necessary improvement.’

Political/general blocks…

1) Cyprus, the Turkish military invaded the island and continues to hold half of the country, unrecognised internationally.
2) Adherence to democratic values.
3) Human-rights/women’s-rights record
4) Failure to recognise the Armenian genocide
5) Media censorship, especially ‘Article 301’
6) Territorial border dispute with Greece (Turkey’s inability to secure its borders.

‘Ilıcak added that accession attempts had allowed “democratic reforms to be put into place.”’

Really? Such as? Reforming policy away from democracy doesn’t count as democratic reform!

State Secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Frank Belfarge, one of the remaining guests on Ilıcak’s panel, also spoke on Turkey’s accession, saying a ‘new momentum’ was expected this year.

“A new momentum in the EU-Turkey relations could be achieved this year,” Belfarge said.

Indeed there could be provided that the protesters and demonstrators around Turkey are successful in their attempts to change Turkey into a democratic, secular state, which it isn’t currently.

Meanwhile, former British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw said that Turkey had so far had a “torturous” accession process with the European Union.

The countries of the union needed to admit that they have discriminated against Turkey when compared to the remaining accession processes, which have progressed far faster than with Turkey, Straw added, where the union gave “some countries the benefit of the doubt.”

Good use of the word ‘torturous’ Jack! Would that be torture carried out by the Turkish authorities against the Kurds/refugees/protesters etc?

Discriminated against? Oh Jackie boy, you are a twat. Turkey hasn’t been discriminated against, Turkey’s EU bid has been so slow because they discriminate, against non-religious people, because they fail continually to meet EU standards and the country isn’t secular nor a democracy!

Turkey’s attempts at improving itself and catching up with chapters were impressive, Straw added

Yes, it’s very impressive how Turkey continues to go backwards while the rest of the secular world goes forward.

Europe stands for everything that Turkey doesn’t.