Opinion: Doubts warranted on Turkey′s EU bid | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.02.2014
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Opinion: Doubts warranted on Turkey's EU bid

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried once more to campaign for Turkey's EU bid in Berlin. However, his real concern seems to be his own political future, writes DW's Nina Werkhäuser.

When travelling to Germany, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan likes to play the part of a thoughtful uncle looking after Turks abroad by fighting for their rights. Erdogan doesn't hesitate to kick the German government in the shin when problems emerge between them. Many still recall a remark he once made that forcing assimilation is tantamount to a crime against humanity. Children with parents of Turkish origin living in Germany must have the option to learn Turkish first, he said.

This time around, Erdogan didn't come to criticize German integration policy. He even praised Germany for it. The authoritarian head of state is currently more concerned with how his own future is going to pan out. That's why he opted to strike a more forgiving note in Berlin.

It's true that Erdogan still wields considerable power in Turkey, and his conservative Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) dominates the country's political landscape. But the corruption scandal, Erdogan's clampdown on Turkey's police and justice administration as well as his tough stance towards demonstrators at Gezi Park have damaged his reputation. Negotiations for EU membership are a somewhat complicated task, since the words and actions of the Turkish government doesn't always match one another. Erdogan seems to lack vision when it comes to advancing democratic development in Turkish society.

A message for his peers

Since Erdogan took office in 2003, he has experienced nothing but election victories. Spoiled by success, he's now even eyeing the presidency. This summer, Turkey's citizens will go to the ballot box to vote for a president for the first time ever.

If Erdogan plans to run for office, he is going to need the votes of Turks living abroad. Germany has the biggest Turkish community in Europe - more than one million Turks living in Germany are allowed to vote. Erdogan seemed highly pleased when he announced at the Chancellor's Office that his fellow countrymen would be allowed to cast their vote at seven spots all over Germany - that represents a first.

Most of them support Erdogan so far. As part of his trip to the German capital, a meeting held between Erdogan and Turks living in Germany was advertised under the slogan "Berlin meets the great master."

However, Erdogan didn't present himself as the big man in charge while he was in Berlin. His empty rhetoric on Turkey's desired EU membership appeared to be merely an act out of duty. That won't convince skeptics like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She reiterated her concerns about Turkey becoming an EU member state during Erdogan's trip, and recent developments there confirm her doubts.

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