Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

We’d be EU members if it were Spain’s turn

"Turkey Season" in France was almost in jeopardy. Supported by the culture and foreign ministries of Turkey and France, organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, or IKSV, and by Cultures-France, Turkey Season will continue as planned.

The reason why it was imperiled was due to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks, when he recently said that art and culture activities might be cancelled in France for nine months. Erdoğan, without doubt, was reacting against French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who insists on a tough stance against Turkey’s membership to the European Union.

The day after Erdoğan’s statement, President Abdullah Gül canceled a luncheon for businessmen sponsoring Turkey Season. So things turned more serious. However, calm loomed ahead, and as I said, Turkey Season will continue as planned. If it were to be canceled, not President Sarkozy, but Turkey, would have been the losing party because this is an excellent opportunity to have French public opinion on our side. We are heading to the French capital Paris on Monday for the official opening ceremony of Turkey Season.

I hope there is no return.

Turkey’s Sarkozy obsession

I attended an event recently hosted by Spain’s Ambassador to Ankara Juan Clos. Since Sweden will take the helm of the EU for the next six months, the speaker was Swedish Ambassador to Ankara Christer Asp. Asp said, "Turks are obsessed with Sarkozy," and I asked him whether or not Sweden will try to convince France. "No one can convince France. They were against Sweden’s EU membership as much as they were against Britain’s and Spain’s. They had offered us ’privileged partnership’ too."

That is to say "privileged partnership" is not something invented just for Turkey.

Besides, Europe is not only Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Clos and Asp point out. There are friends of Turkey in Europe in countries such as Britain, Sweden, Spain and Portugal. Just by looking at the initiatives of Ambassador Clos, we can say Spain’s support is exemplary. Three months ago, Clos laid down similarities between Spain and Turkey during a luncheon at his residence in Istanbul. Several members of the Turkish media were invited too.

Again in Istanbul, he hosted an event for the honor of Swedish Ambassador Asp. Sweden and Spain, as the next term president in line, emphasized that they will continue to make efforts for a progress in Turkey’s EU bid. I came across Spanish Ambassador Clos the other day in a meeting hosted by the Economic Development Foundation.

This time he led the way for a speech in Istanbul by British journalist-writer William Chislett, author of an endless number of books on Spain, who closely followed the transition period to democracy in Spain in 1975-1978.

Chislett, in his detailed study, presented similarities and differences between Turkey and Spain in its pre-accession period.

Two key differences are that Spain had a better grade report on human rights before membership to the union and a twice better welfare level. But if you put similarities and differences on a scale, similarities undoubtedly outweigh differences.

Let’s go back to the title of this article. If it were at Spain’s discretion, Turkey would have become a member of the EU long ago.

Frankly, we should congratulate Spanish Ambassador Clos for his efforts to keep Turkey’s accession on the agenda as much as for his support.