"2017 Germany Federal Elections and the Future of EU-Turkey Relations"
"2017 Germany Federal Elections and the Future of EU-Turkey Relations" panel, the first leg of “The Panel for Turkey-Germany Relations” and “The Workshop for Customs Union” project, organized by EURO Politika Magazine by the support of “Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF)” was held on March 3, 2018 at Istanbul Point Hotel (Taksim). At the panel, it was discussed how the trend towards the establishment of a coalition to form a government, the concerns raised by populist and extreme political tendencies in public opinion; to what kind of transformation these tendencies would lead in the foreign policy, security, defense and EU relations. It also focused on the question as to what kind of turning points these uncertainties could lead in Turkey-EU relations in the coming period.
The opening speech of the panel, which took place in a single session, was realized by Cem Toker, the former president of the Liberal Democratic Party. Having underlied that Turkey-Germany relations meant Turkey-EU relations, and expressed the importance of bilateral relations to be read in this respect, Mr. Toker underlined the facts that the discourses should be avoided, between the two strong NATO alliances with profound contacts due to strong commercial ties and Turks living in Germany for many years, in a way that would lead to permanent damage in bilateral relations, especially in the populist rhetoric that has been used by the Turkish government to bring premiums to domestic politics.
After the opening speech, Dr. Serhat Güvenç, Professor of Political Science and International Relations of Kadir Has University made a speech on "German-Turkish Defense Cooperation" as the first speaker of the panel which was headed by Sezgin Mercan, Professor of Political Science and International Relations from Başkent University. Having underlined that Germany, after the Cyprus operation in 1974 as a result of the embargo which was applied to Turkey by USA, has become a force that allowed the Turkish Armed Forces to survive, and that this cooperation continued a positive trend in the bilateral relations in the early 1990s and in 1999 as a result of Turkey's being a candidate member of EU, Mr. Mercan has made statements that draw attention to the fact that recently experienced Incirlik and Konya Air Bases issues and the problems that caused the crisis between the two countries, wouldn't overshadow the alliance relations between Germany and Turkey, even that we might have entered to a stage resembling 1990s in terms of military relations in the context of arms sales.
As another speaker of the panel, Professor Mert Bilgin at Department of Political Science and International Relations of Istanbul Medipol University, has emphasized, in his speech entitled “EU-Turkey Relations in the Context of International Politics”, that the necessity of establishing itself together with the cold war began to be questioned after the Cold War ended, and that this situation has also had a great impact on the domestic politics of the countries, by mentioning that Neo-Realism conception, i.e. the mentality of “I must lose less when everyone loses”, has no place in the integration in the context of international politics.
As the third speaker, Assoc. Prof. Ebru Canan Sokullu, the chairman and lecturer of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Bahçeşehir University, pointed out, in her speech entitled “Electoral Behavior in German Elections”, that the result of the Federal elections in Germany in 2017 was a development that should be considered not only for German politics but for all European countries; that the correct analysis of the German elections has been important to understand social dynamics and, most importantly, to orient national and EU policies; that there were three most important arguments such as 'foreign antagonism', 'anti-Islam' and 'terrorism' behind the success of the Alternative Party for Germany (AfD), which has achieved the greatest radical victory after World War II; that such rhetoric has mobilized the growing racist tendency in Germany and opens the way for the four-year-old AfD.
As another speaker of the panel, Assoc. Prof. Cigdem Nas, the Secretary General of Economic Development Foundation (İKV - İktisadi Kalkınma Vakfı), and Professor and lecturer at Political Science and International Relations of Yıldız Technical University, has attracted considerable attention, in her speech entitled “Germany's Role in the Future of the EU and Turkey-EU Relations”, that while so far Germany's leadership has been more economical, it has evolved, albeit a reluctant hegemonic power, into a leadership in political field with the developments in recent years; Trump and Brexit factors were important in that, because recalling Trump's discourse that "the EU should take care of its own destiny"; there was a lack of leadership after the Brexit, and Germany could fill in that gap and reforms by the partnership of France.
The fifth speaker of the panel, Dr. Ozan Örmeci, Beykent University Political Science and International Relations, has mentioned, in his speech entitled “The Decline of the Left in Germany”, that Germany, as a state that has been affected by extremes (Nazism) in a very negative way in the past, and for this reason, even nowadays its citizens sometimes suffer from negative prejudice and treatment even in all over the world, must continue to be governed by contemporary and democratic ideologies such as social democracy and liberalism; Germany has started to be seen as a 'role model country' because it has shown to break with the past and it has become a world giant again thanks to free market economy; that in this regard the most important responsibility has belonged to the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Dr. Sezgin Mercan, the last speaker and also the moderator of the panel, has referred, in his speech entitled “Foreign and Security Policy Partnership Between Turkey-Germany-EU”, to the importance of that there has been a dispute between Germany and Turkey in the normative ground but Germany has been an actor who needed to cooperate with its best ally Turkey for global and regional cooperation activities especially in increasing its efforts in European security and NATO.