The events last night in Turkey, the attempted military coup, made me remember the famous words of the then US Secretary of State Alexander Haig on the occasion of Tejero’s frustrated coup d’état on February 23, 1981: “It’s an internal affair.”
The declaration of the United States representative was like a bucket of cold water splashing down on the thoughts and feelings of Spaniards at a moment in which his majesty King Juan Carlos and all Spanish democrats were attempting to defend and uphold our very young democracy.
This time, there have been no declarations of the sort from any Western ministries; however, a cloud of doubt and reluctance appeared on the scene when it was time to categorically condemn this failed coup.
With the exception of the brave and accurate words of the High representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini, who, almost from the very first moment, requested: “moderation and respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions”, and the obvious support of President Obama, in the middle of the night; the responses of rest of the European democracies and international organizations have been surprisingly lukewarm. And this attitude is to be criticized. A coup d’état in Turkey can never be “an internal affair” for the West and even less so for Europe. How can we ignore the fact that Turkey is a formal candidate to the EU? How can we not condemn this military coup against a democracy? There have been no words, either spoken or written, actually “condemning” the events, except those used by the opposing parties in Turkey itself. How can NATO, who presents itself as the protector of democratic principles and values, have reacted with a minimum statement that does barely more than state that it “is following the events closely and with preoccupation”? Along the same line the General Secretary of the UN, Ban ki Moon, did last night… How can Europe, an alleged upholder of democratic values, keep such a suspicious silence at such a decisive moment when the scales could tip in either direction?
Everything appears to indicate that things are returning to normal and that the coup has failed thanks to the patriotic and democratic reaction of the Turkish people. At this moment, all of Europe, including our country – Spain -, needs to take a good look at itself and clearly define its true stance as regards Turkey. The hesitation, the long wait of a dramatic and nerve-wracking night have shown, once more, the atavistic fears regarding Turkey in the collective European psyche. The ghosts of an Islamic country as a future member of the EU have resurrected in all their mightiness at a time when the split between West and East only seems to grow; a time in which, unfortunately, all that is Muslim and Islamic appears to provoke rejection and exclusion and, consequently, the need to fight it.
My opinion, however, is quite the opposite, and it has been amply proved with the victory of democracy in Turkey. Today more than ever, Europe needs a European Turkey, a democratic, strong and dynamic Turkey that will adequately defend the global interests of Europe in the present and in the future, the interests of the Europe that wants to continue to have some influence on the world. It would be advisable to accelerate the negotiation processes for Turkey’s joining the EU, thereby definitely guaranteeing the firm presence of this country in the European democratic institutions and putting an end to its consideration as “the sick man in Europe” by the West.