Is Erdogan an EU friend or a foe?

It was 14 April 1987 when Turkey officially sent the application for the formal membership into the European Community, some years later European Commission refuses to immediately begin accession negotiations, citing Turkey’s economic and political situation, poor relations with Greece and their conflict with Cyprus, but overall reaffirming eventual membership as the goal.
From that point, a long series of ups and downs to the accession went on; EU public opinion had a very controversial position, while France and Germany governments, in the persons of Sarkozy and Merkel, have always been very contrary.
The very ending has been a televised debate on May 20, 2014 for the 2014 European Parliament Elections, President of European Commission candidates Juncker and Schulz, they both argued that Turkey would never join the European Union while either one of them were President, with the view that Turkey has turned its back on European democratic values.
Looking at today the situation is only worsening.
Essentially, Erdogan is trying to build an authoritarian Islamic regime in Turkey under what he calls “the 2023 goal”, buying the support of conservative and nationalist masses with slogans and images of a superficial and illusionary “Ottomanism”. This Ottomanism is kitsch, old and out of European range, and to be clear, it seems closer to a blind Islamism than to an open democracy as Eu is and requires to its Member States. Yet, it likes very much to some (numerous) segments of the ruling party’s grassroots.
This type of conservatism has nothing to do with “conserving” anything, but living in the past. On the contrary, a new form of popular understanding of religion is being created in religion-state relationships, Hence, Ottomanism here serves only as a package, a sort of Trojan horse, and what the package contains is a strong Islamism in the worst sense.
Erdogan anti-Western and Ottomanist rhetoric has contributed greatly also to changing Turkey’s political culture in the way he wants it to change. His position against homosexuals and the speech during which he said to consider women as inferior human beings are ridiculous and very far from European vision.
After the Paris case, aware of the sensitivity of the matter, and the fact that eyes in Europe and the United States were pointed on him, President Erdogan, who can be very hard when it comes to the difficulties faced by Muslims in the West, remained politically correct on this occasion.
In his statement, Erdogan said that terrorism has no religion and nationality and could not be condoned under any circumstance. “It is very important that we stay united against all attempts to show the kind of terrorist attack seen in Paris as an excuse for enmity based on religious and cultural differences,” Erdogan said, making no reference to Islamophobia in the West, and of course no word on Jewish innocent deads of the kosher shop or solidarity with the Jewish community.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was present to the Paris march, and most of his Cabinet members expressed similarly diplomatic views, condemning the attack without any qualifications or attempts at rationalizing it in anyway. The only statement to raise eyebrows among Western diplomats in Ankara came, surprisingly enough, from Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Pointing out that he condemned such acts of terrorism regardless of their aims, Cavusoglu nevertheless qualified his words. “Another factor that threatens Europeans and their values, which we have been underlining for years at every platform, is the increase in racism xenophobia, discrimination and Islamophobia in many parts of Europe”. He underlined the direct influence of this on terrorism and he added that the “freedom of belief” also required respect by Europeans.
So, how can we trust them?
The situation is complicated. Even more as tens of millions of foreigners enter Turkey every year. Who are they? All tourists? Are we sure? It is also problematic to monitor a border with Syria that is almost 900 kilometers long and it seems to have many holes, it is considered the easiest way to enter. The problem is also aggravated by suspicions aired in Turkey concerning the country’s vast bureaucratic apparatus, which contains officials sympathetic to radical Islamic groups. What a surprise!
Turkey will attend the terrorism summit in Washington on Feb. 18, when these topics will be discussed in detail. The sense of urgency following the Paris attacks is expected to lead to increased cooperation between Ankara and its Western allies, given that the Turkey’s threat is increasingly perceived by Europeans as another and dangerous one.