Yasin Aktay - Turkey
The year 2017 went on record as quite a challenging year for the European Union with the U.K. deciding to leave, the debates caused by the EU’s small countries starting to bring a greater burden on the international organization both economically and politically, rising racism and right-wing parties coming to a more effective position and the increase of nation-state demands, rising in parallel with this. These were topics that occupied the EU’s agenda for the last couple of years, but in 2017, these debates were harsher and more visible.
While in the beginning, European politicians tolerantly approached the updated versions of the fascist ideologies they had managed to suppress to some extent after the second great war with simple vote calculations, in time, they saw that the system was starting to go under the control of these dangerous approaches and became scared.
Interestingly, during this time in which the identity crisis deepened, Turkey and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appeared as the element of hate speech. The leaders who became drawn to “the irresistible lightness of attacking Erdoğan,” started to realize in 2017 that they sacrificed the European identity for their short-term gains, but it seems they are too late.
Initially, the far right-racist discourse and xenophobia, which are tools used to control the system, triggered marginalization during this period and formed a fragmented political structure. Its closest example is Germany. Despite more than three months having passed since the elections, coalition discussions are yet to reach a conclusion, and Germany has entered 2018 without a government.
The coalition negotiations ongoing between Christian union parties, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Greens and called the Jamaica coalition, because the joint form of all the parties’ colors look like the Jamaican flag, being unsuccessful, has reminded us once more how valuable center politics - which lost its value along with populist politics - is for Europe.
The far-right Alternative Party for Germany (AfD) winning 12.6 percent of the vote and being represented in parliament for the first time in history is being presented as one of the reasons why coalition negotiations failed.
Angela Merkel’s failure in the migrant policy is being presented as the reason behind both her failure in the election and coalition negotiations. Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, failing thrice in the same year shows that her time is also almost up.
It is impossible for this political weakness in Germany not to have any impact on the EU processes that have entered a critical period. In November, 23 EU-member countries had reached a decision for Europe to form its own military and released a joint statement. The EU having its own autonomous forces is a matter that has been constantly discussed since the end of the Cold War. Europeans, who came very close to achieving this goal by the end of the 1990s, were faced with the U.S.’s accusations of, “The EU is undermining NATO,” and had given up their pursuit for an autonomous military force.
I had mentioned before that tension caused in Europe by U.S. President Donald Trump, who is described by European Council President Tusk as “an existential threat for Europe,” complaining throughout his election campaign that Europe does not contribute to NATO’s expenses, is wanted to be turned into an advantage by politicians advocating an autonomous Europe.
The decision taken in November 2017 is a step taken in this direction, but as this decision was taken at time when the EU is perhaps the weakest it has ever been in its history, it is candidate for a “miscarriage.”
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