Vocal International: What is your take on the current refugee crisis Europe is facing? How did Europe end up with such a huge flow of refugees?
Kader Sevinç: The history of Middle East has been very sad since the discovery of oil reserves. The British, French, US and Russian interests, local tyrants and political manipulation of ethnic and religious diversity have marked the 20th century’s miseries in the region. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and 9/11 triggered a new dark episode in the 21st century. Despite the so-called Arab Spring, the real causes of Middle East’s lack of emergence as a land of democracy, economic development and social progress are not well analyzed in the capitals of the Western World including in Ankara. The refugee crisis is just a by-product of the West’s out-dated 20th century instincts and mishandling by the EU of Turkey’s membership process. Turkey needed to be better integrated to the European policy-making for both a deeper analysis of the situation in the Middle East and efficient management of the emerging conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Europe failed in understanding the frustrations and aspirations of the youth in that region and the urgency of promoting democracy and economic development as a vital European interest. Many other factors, such as EU’s weak supranational competences to face international challenges and the lack of visionary leadership in the EU capitals have also contributed to today’s bleak picture.
Vocal International: How do you asses Mr. Tusk’s visit he paid recently to Turkey? Many friends of Europe in Turkey and friends of Turkey in Europe are in opinion that this visit has been utilized by Mr. Erdogan and governing AK Party for domestic consumption.
Kader Sevinç: All international visits to any country have an impact on the domestic politics. However, in order to avoid any risk of domestic consumption, this visit could have been better prepared and include a pluralistic agenda of meetings with the opposition and the civic society actors. This is exactly a case illustrating why the EU has been failing in designing a sound policy of enlargement to Turkey. Turkey is a pluralistic society in advanced degree of integration to the EU in many fields from economy to social cooperation programmes. The EU leadership’s analytical capacity would benefit from better communication with Turkey.
Vocal International: Why is Mr. Erdogan invited to visit Brussels right before Turkish election on November 1?
Kader Sevinç: He inaugurates the Europalia Festival’s Turkey edition for this year. There is also sufficiently substantial agenda for the EU officials to meet him on this occasion. Nevertheless, I hope that the EU leaders know that Turkey is a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential regime.
Vocal International: What will be content of the talks between Mr. Erdogan and his European counterparts here in Brussels? How realistic that Europe will get what it wants from Turkey vis-a-vis refugee crisis?
Kader Sevinç: As long as the Turkey’s EU membership talks are blocked to the detriment of the democratic progress in Turkey and the European interests in economy and foreign policy, it is unrealistic to expect game-changing results. Turkey has made tremendous efforts in hosting over 2 million refugees. As the CHP President Kiliçdaroglu emphasized in his recent visit to Brussels, it would be unjust to blame Turkey on this. Moreover, we are heading towards elections and no political party is engaged in a xenophobic demagogy. However, given the continuous flow to Turkey, and through Turkey to the EU, a rational policy can only be implemented in better engaging Turkey in the membership process which has all the tools of joint remedies and action.
Vocal International: Many European officials think that Mr. Erdogan is in a stronger position then he was regarding the refugee crisis Europe is facing and that provides him leverage over Europe. So that, Europe has to learn under any circumstance to work with Mr. Erdogan. Do you think that EU’s low-profile engagement with Turkey’s internal politics/political crises is because of such reason? Can Europe really rely on Mr. Erdogan with the hope that he will help to stop refugee flows from Turkey to Europe?
Kader Sevinç: This question involves many errors of judgment that were the causes of the EU’s tragic failure in defending its values and interests in the international relations. First of all, refugee flows are from Middle East to Europe. Many Syrians, Iraqis or Afghans coming to Turkey stay there. Some of them want to find refuge in the EU countries. This is not a refugee problem between Turkey and the EU. Turkey and the EU are on the same side of the problem. Turkey should be better integrated to Europe, and Europe should be a better integrated political entity on the World scene. It takes honest and courageous leaders to tell these truths to the people. Secondly, after the general elections of 1st of November, Turkey will have a new parliament and government. Only then the EU will see clearly its interlocutor as prime minister and eventually other partners of the new government. Either the EU deals with Turkey as a democracy, or it betrays its own values. The recent events must have well highlighted the cost of such failures for Europe’s future.
Kader Sevinç, CHP European Union Representative and Party of European socialist and democrats (PES) Presidency Council Member