Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Stalwart in Brussels

CHP opposition leader Deniz Baykal met with EU officials in Brussels today and yesterday, re-affirming CHP's support for Turkey's EU accession bid in front of local elections. However, as Bülent Keneş commented yesterday, such attempts by CHP should and will be met with proper skepticism by EU officials. Since AKP's election in 2002, Turkey's "secularist" party has resisted adopting large swaths of the EU acquis, the framework under which Turkey proposes to bring its policies in line with that of the European Union so as to be eligible for membership. Lest it be forgotten, CHP fought tooth-and-nail last year against even the slightest revision to the Turkish Penal Code's infamous Article 301, resisted revision to the Foundation's Law, and supported the closure case brought against AKP. Indeed, it was just last April that Baykal threatened to walk out of an address given by EU Commissioner José Manuel Barroso should the Commissioner even broach the issue of AKP's closure, which the EU monitored carefully.

In a meeting with Turkish journalists, Baykal defended his opposition to TRT-6, re-stating familiar rhetoric about the "inequalities" and ethnic strife the channel will leash upon an otherwise healthy and unitary Turkish nation. Kurdish language broadcast rights have long been demanded by the EU, and Baykal's recalcitrant stance, shaky reasoning, and refusal to deal with reality are unlikely to bolster CHP's standing with EU officials. Additionally, Baykal maintained strong positions on Cyprus and overhaul of Turkey's military constitution, all the while demanding the EU treat Turkey and CHP fairly. As of late, AKP politicians have increasingly sounded similar tones of righteous indignation at the pace of the EU process, giving CHP room to pick up the EU reform mantle and out-do AKP at its own pro-Europe game. Alas, opportunities missed and absent any signal that CHP is willing to reverse past resistance to EU-inspired reform, CHP's pro-Europe rhetoric rings hollow, the cogency of Baykal's arguments belied by his party's policies.

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