Vision and facts

The recent European Parliament report calling on Ankara to recognize the genocide of Armenians during World War I and that of the Assyrians in the country’s southeast and the Pontic Greeks in the Black Sea region may have irked Turkish officials but it does not come close to constituting official European Union policy. As a representative body, the European Parliament reflects public reservations toward the prospect of Turkey’s EU membership. However, the EU’s political elites have often adopted policies that run against popular sentiment. A similar thing is currently taking place in Turkey, as the security establishment and the government are turning their back on public sentiment. The EU’s attraction is on the wane and Turkish people feel more affiliated with Muslim countries, some of which – Iran, Syria and Lebanon – have been targeted by the West. Turkey is experiencing a sort of schizophrenia. While the political system is supposedly representing the general will, its style of governance is actually bordering more and more on «enlightened rule.» Increasingly, government policy is becoming eschatological: Political leaders are convinced about the correctness of their actions, despite the fact that the implementation of their policies has failed to bear much fruit – at least enough to win public consent. So much will depend on the European Commission report on Turkey’s reform progress, due for release in October. Although the document is expected to contain some warnings for Ankara, EU leaders will by no means halt Turkey’s path to Europe. The decision to admit Turkey is so firmly rooted among the EU’s political elites, particularly in Greece, that it looks unshakeable. Political vision, it seems, matters more than facts.