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Thursday 25 May 2017

Opinions

"Daily Sabah":Can Macron reverse EU's retreat on values?

Tuesday 09/May/2017 - 11:23 AM
Sada El Balad
Emmanuel Macron came from almost nowhere to clinch victory in the second round of presidential elections in France on Sunday. His youth، belief in France and Europe's future، pro-business inclinations provided a healthy contrast to Marine Le Pen، and as he is well aware، attracting significant support from those who never would have voted for him. The next few months may demonstrate how misplaced the trust shown to him is، but، for now، we must give him our whole support because he is confronted with many challenges.

He has become president of France at a time when the country and the rest of the continent are in the grips of anti-immigrant، anti-Muslim and anti-Turkey mania. When one looks at the so-called leaders of other EU member countries، it is evident that many have succumbed to the populism of the far-right، trying to hold on to power by adopting the slogans، if not the sentiments، of the growing racist and fascist movements.

It was commendable that Macron did not champion the hate-filled rhetoric of the extremists during the heated election campaign and at the end of the day، the majority of the French electorate rejected what Le Pen stood for. No such principled stance was present during the general elections in the Netherlands، where politicians competed with each other in anti-Muslim and anti-Turkey rhetoric.

However، Macron's battle is only just beginning. In addition to his considerable responsibilities for the future of France، he also needs to confront the EU، diseased to its core، which needs to be resuscitated from its current stupor.

The EU، together with all its institutions، should be made to stand up for what is right. It needs public legitimacy، not a bunch of unaccountable eurocrats pontificating from Brussels. Brexit was no accident and Frexit، while momentarily averted، cannot be discounted in the medium term. Macron's victory was a victory against far-right populism. If it's to prove a longer lasting one، it needs sustained work.

The EU، which Turkey aspired to join، was an incredibly ambitious economic، social and cultural project. In the past decade، the member countries betrayed one founding vision after another just to hold on to power. This is what Macron needs to combat with all his might.

What Turks looking to Europe see is a continent divided in itself، politicians pointing to the every group they consider the "other" as a way to explain، not solve، their problems. It is no accident that those European Muslims estranged from the societies they grow up in end up being brainwashed by terrorist groups like Daesh.

Turkey، as a partner and an aspiring member، is the perfect antidote to extremism in all its forms، as the predecessors of the current batch of European politicians well understood.

Macron faces an uphill battle to fight the demons corroding the foundations of united Europe. The continent needs politicians who can say the truth without delving into the basest instincts of the public and provide a vision for an inclusive future. Time will only tell whether the improbable victory of Macron was a blessing for Europeans or just a fleeting victory against the march of narrow-mindedness. We، as Daily Sabah، hope for the former.

Edited by Rasha Mohamed

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