[INTERVIEW] Top EU-TR Parliamentary Committee MEP talks to PPJ: Turkish leadership hurt Democracy so much after the coup! Fernando Lozano- 18 December 2017 It is not unknown the relations between Turkey and the European Union (EU) have significantly changed since the period of optimism. The EU’s suspicion in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt that the government might attempt to further monopolise the power has been confirmed. Since the coup attempt, more than 60,000 people have been arrested and more than 150,000 people were dismissed from their jobs. The current political situation and undemocratic rule under the state of exception increase the EU’s distrust of Erdoğan and the AKP. Overall, the AKP’s high popularity among its supporters after the coup and the EU’s confirmed fears about the Turkish government will prevent normalization of relations in the short to medium term and increase the EU’s dilemma between its interests and normative position vis-à-vis Turkey. Platform for Peace and Justice (PPJ) interviewed one of the key figures in European Parliament with regard to EU-TR relations, Manolis Kefalogiannis MEP, Chair to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee and member of several subcomittes in the European Parliament.. Mr Kefalogiannis served in the government of Greece as Minister for Mercantile Marine and he was a member of the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency. Fernando Lozano asked wide range of questions to Mr Kegalogiannis about EU-TR relations from recent coup attempt to Cyprus issue and from minorities to future EU-TR relations. Manolis Kefalogiannis Chair to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt last year. EU leadership strongly condemded the nefarious attack to democracy. How did the failed coup implicate on the EU-Turkey relations? Turkey is a big country that plays a significant role in this flammable corner of our planet. Thus it should contribute to peace, security and stability in the region. However Turkish leadership since July 2016 – after the repression of the unfortunate “coup” (emphasis is of Kefalogiannis) – is disappointing and does not guarantee any optimism. Until the “coup” of July 15th 2016 Turkey has never questioned neither its European perspective nor the accession procedure. After that date we are all unease because of their provocative actions and declarations. President Erdogan’s provocative declaration against the European Union forced President Juncker to give a hard answer, that nobody can threaten or blackmail Europe. That caused the Resolution of the European Parliament which resulted to the suspension of the pre-accession negotiations with Turkey. Turkey indeed is being deliberately driven away from the European Union; all facts that succeeded the repression of the “coup” tend to lead to that conclusion, despite the fact that the European Union supported the Turkish people and condemned unambiguously the persons responsible for that. Unfortunately it was the Turkish leadership that hurt so much democracy after the “coup” and not the couples themselves. The declaration about resetting the death penalty was the milestone threat for the democratic European Union. “No respect to Justice, no liberty of expression, no liberty of religion, no freedom of the press” in Turkey! It was the Turkish Government that sued and arrested tens of thousands of citizens (civil servants, university professors, military agents, police agents and judges) only because they dared to express their different opinion. For the same reason, opposition media were closed down and a vast number of journalists were arrested and imprisoned. The rule of law is seriously suffering in Turkey lately. There is no respect to justice, no liberty of expression, no liberty of religion, no freedom of the press. The EU deeply concerned about Erdogan’s increased powers! We are all deeply concerned in the European Union. We are equally concerned for the recent revision of the Turkish Constitution, that allows the President to have extra authorities, unfamiliar to the European democracy. Even more, last week, President Erdogan during his official visit to Greece, was interviewed by a major Greek TV channel. He declared arrogantly that Turkish Justice is the best judiciary system all over Europe. Go figure. Ankara undermining international law Honestly, what is really important is that Turkish leaders continuously try to question the International law especially the Treaty of Lausanne. A treaty signed by thhe Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and USSR (at the time) that patented the borders of Turkey and has remained for almost a century as the pillar of peace, stability and security in the region. Unfortunately Turkey questions this treaty despite other countries declarations that the Treaty is not subject to revision. We suggest to the Turkish leadership instead of challenging the International law and the International treaties to admit in practice all its wrong actions and respect the good neighbourly relations. Turkey reluctant for a solution in Cyprus crisis Cyprus has been for 43 years now the only EU country that half its territory suffers from Turkish military occupation. We have been pursuing for 43 years a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue: a country free from occupation army. But unfortunately for one more time the Turkish side has recently left the talks. Turkey seems not willing to pursue a solution that would end its occupation status in Cyprus. Every year in every Progress Report on Turkeys accession to the EU, it is clearly pointed out that Turkey does not respect the sovereign rights of Greece and violates the territorial sea and the airspace, that Turkey is not initiating the reopening of the Theological School of Chalki nor is accepting the Universalism of the Patriarch of Constantinople, that Turkey is threatening the sovereign rights of the Democracy of Cyprus as far as the Exclusive Economic Zone of the latter is concerned, that Turkey does not recognize the Democracy of Cyprus. Does not recognize an EU state. Turkey abstains from being a European country In my capacity as the President of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to EU-Turkey Delegation, I wish for a European Turkey. A pillar of stability and security in the region. A country where the rule of law is predominant. A democratic country. I fear that today’s Turkey is, voluntarily I am afraid, abstaining from being characterized as a contemporary European state.Turkey has always been shuddering West, remaining essentially intended to the East. Nowadays it is unfortunately deeply intended to the most selfish expansionism.