Examination of Witness (Questions 120
TUESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2002
120. I wanted to ask you whether in your opinion
you think Turkey will eventually accede to the European Union
and become a member, or is it still something that is largely
open to debate within Turkey?
(Mr Barchard) The desire to do it is very strong and
it is not going to go away, and it is particularly strong among
young people who increasingly know what they are missing so, barring
some cataclysmic collapse inside Turkey (and despite all its upheavals
and reversals of fortune Turkey has always managed to avoid that).
I think that pressure is going to be there, and refusing them
essentially on grounds of ethnic prejudice or cultural difference
or something of that sort will be unacceptable. We come therefore
to the question of Cyprus. It seems fairly clear to me that if
southern Cyprus, the Republic of Cyprus, is admitted into the
European Union in 2003-2004 before negotiations are opened with
Turkey, it will certainly use a vote of veto for the foreseeable
future to prevent Turkish negotiations being opened. If that happens
of course the question would recede into the indefinite future
and there would be a climate of extreme bitterness and confrontation.
If we can deal with that future issue, I would have thought that
it is inevitable that at some point in the future Turkey will
be a member.
121. It is just that there seem to be some mixed
views in the evidence we have received that would suggest that
while there is this pressure within Turkey to join the EU, there
are certain voices within Turkey that say, "Well, they do
not really want us. The European Union is half-hearted about us.
Look at the way the eastern European countries have overtaken
us. Fifteen years ago they were Communist countries. We started
applying for membership in 1959 and we are still applying, and
yet Poland and Hungary and so on will join long before us."
There is a sort of bitterness among certain circles within Turkey.
Is that something you have found?
(Mr Barchard) There is undoubtedly bitterness. There
is a great resentment of the European Union in many ways among
young Turks, particularly on the issues of visas and things of
that sort. One could see a whole generation of radical anti-European
politicians merging in Turkey in the future as a result of this
bitterness, but as long as there is any chance of getting into
the European Union(and can I just slightly correct you
there: it was actually April 1987 that the first formal application
was made although the first expression of interest came in 1959)but
since Turkey applied in 1987 and it was not until 1999 that its
application was taken up, I think they have a certain right to
feel aggrieved because many of the countries which are now applying
were not in any way democratic at the time when Turkey applied.
122. Would you say that the decisions we make
now as a European Union to encourage Turkey, and especially one
of the issues you have highlighted about visas does cause some
bitterness, are going to be critical to our future relations?
It is a daft thing to ask perhaps, but I suppose what I am trying
to get at is that if we make some of the wrong decisions now and
further encourage that bitterness, we might find Turkey veering
away from us and saying, "We do not actually want to join
(Mr Barchard) It is possible. There are those in Turkey
who believe that some sort of pan-Turkic confederation or union
with Azerbaijan would give them autonomy combined with a very
strong bilateral relation with the United States. I do not think
the majority of people believe that. I think that they see themselves
as living at the culmination of a process which has been going
on for 200 years of integration with Europe. It should not be
forgotten when we are talking about the Holy Roman Empire and
so forth that many places in Turkey are actually historical parts
of the European heritage and the people who live there are themselves
well aware of that, so in a sense it is a re-integration, not
a first time integration.
123. From some evidence which we have had, particularly
in relation to the United States, we were beginning to get an
impression that certainly a section of the United States was very
much supporting Turkey's EU application as permanent recognition
for the military support they have been given post-September 11,
whereas there is insistence on our part and on the European Union
part that such things as human rights simply have to be addressed
and there is not a kind of quid pro quo that just because
you have been supportive on the military side we will close our
eyes to the various issues on human rights. What is the attitude
to the role of the United States within Turkey as far as you can
(Mr Barchard) Anti-Americanism is a much less powerful
force in Turkey than it is, for example, in some of its neighbours,
such as Greece. The reason for that is in part that there is a
different spirit to Turkish/American relations than there is to
Turkish/European relations. The kind of historical prejudices
which I mentioned in my paper, quite surprisingly, are much less
strongly felt. If you go to Washington you will find that of course
people agree entirely with you on the question of human rights
and the need for progress on that and cultural minorities and
all those things because Americans believe in them every bit as
strongly as we do, but the spirit of their relationship with Turkey
is a spirit of friendship and mutual confidence which I do not
think is anything like as strong here. I was very surprised in
Washington that Turkish offices and airlines and cultural associations
and that sort of thing do not have to be strongly guarded. If
you go out and try and buy a Turkish Airlines ticket here you
enter an institution under a state of siege. It points to quite
a deep phenomenon going beyond the military alliance with the
124. You mentioned the danger of anti-European
feeling if accession is too much delayed. Is there a danger that
this anti-European feeling will become very pro-Islamic? Is there
a perception that it will turn to fundamentalist Islamic countries?
(Mr Barchard) It is very difficult to predict these
things but I would have not thought so this side of an enormous
political upheaval and realignment in Turkish politics. Most people
in Turkey believe themselves entitled to play a part in the new
Europe because they are leading a European lifestyle and they
can see themselves as Europeans, and when they look MTV or whatever
it is they think, "That is us".
125. Is there any serious alternative to the
European vocation of Turkey?
(Mr Barchard) In my view no, not this side of some
enormous catastrophe. There are analysts who argue that Turkey
should return to its Islamic roots and perhaps draw closer to
the Arabs and things of that sort and the people who argue that
are trying to suggest things which are not a viable option.
126. Can you explain, Mr Barchard, why it is
then that the pro-Islamic parties have been seen to be more popular
in the opinion polls?
(Mr Barchard) They are popular in the countryside.
There is a regional basis to it. They are also popular in the
east of the country and they are popular among people from the
countryside living in the large towns. They are by and large not
popular with the urban working class and the middle class and
the metropolitan areas. One must remember that although a majority
of Turkey now lives in the towns there is still a very large population
in the countryside and 44 per cent of the population is still
employed in agriculture.
127. Yes, but the point I am making is, notwithstanding
the imbalance in the population, they still manage to get support
in the opinion polls for the Islamic parties was still far greater
than for any other party.
(Mr Barchard) Traditionally they have not done that
and actually I expected in the 1997 election and earlier ones
the Islamic parties to make a rather stronger showing than they
did. We are talking about 21 per cent, I think, was the figure
you quoted. That is not an overwhelming majority. We are dealing
at the moment with an unprecedented situation in Turkish politics
where there was an extraordinary economic disaster last year.
128. So it is literally a knee-jerk reaction
to that situation?
(Mr Barchard) No. It shows that they have a strong
rump of support in rural society which at the moment is holding
up better than the other groups because the other groups have
129. My point is, 21 per cent overall, and the
urban populations are predominantly in favour of the secular political
(Mr Barchard) That is not quite the case because the
large cities, Istanbul and Ankara, are actually under Islamist
mayors, one must not forget. They are capable in this situation
of extracting a plurality from the divisions of the other parties.
130. What I am suggesting, and I would like
you to comment on it, is that because of the shift in population
into the urban areas the fact that the overall pro-Islamic parties
have gained 21 per cent of support in the polls would infer that
in the rural areas their support is far higher than 21 per cent.
Is that the case?
(Mr Barchard) It depends on the rural area, but yes,
in the centre and the east of the country I think one could broadly
131. They have got a majority?
(Mr Barchard) In some areas, certainly, yes.
132. The job of the Foreign Affairs Committee
is to monitor the Foreign Office, to suggest recommendations.
If you were in this seat, where do you think that the British
Government can assist Turkey along the path to its chosen vocation
in Europe? What are we failing to do that we should be doing in
terms of engaging with Turkey?
(Mr Barchard) I think we want to create some much
more broadly based dialogue with all sections of Turkish society,
beginning by trying to have more Turkish students in the UK and
perhaps making it easier for Turkish students, who will, one assumes,
some day be citizens of the European Union, to study in British
universities. One wants to have a much wider range of contacts
between Britain and other European Union countries and Turkish
professionals at all levels. One also wants to expand many of
the contacts that already exist, for example the training of civil
servants and the training of the police. There has been some sort
of programme, I think, since the mid-1990s between reformist elements,
as one might call them, in the Turkish police academies and other
areas trying to create a new police technology and a new culture,
and British and other European police. One wants to expand those
sorts of things. Most important of all is that the political messages
should be ones that do not alarm the Turks, that do not say that
we are supporting your Christian neighbours against you; but that
demonising you is over, and that we regard you as the Americans
do, as partners with whom we have to build an ongoing practical
relationship, not as people we think should be excluded from Europe.
Chairman: That is a good note on which to finish.
Thank you very much, Mr Barchard.