13 Mayıs 2014 Salı

EU's Lack of Strategic Vision May Bring Turkey and Russia Closer

European Union’s lack of strategic vision has shown itself once again by the decision taken by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about 90 million euro compensation to be paid by the Turkish state to Greek Cypriots because of Greek Cypriots who were forced to leave their homes after Turkey’s intervention in Cyprus in 1974 as well as the damages that should be paid for the “enclaved Greek-Cypriot residents of the Karpas peninsula”.[1] “In terms of the grounds for this ruling, its method and the fact that it is considering a country that Turkey does not recognize as a counterpart, we see no necessity to make this payment”, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said at a press conference on May 13.[2] ECHR’s decision will certainly be a blow to ongoing peace talks in the island and will inflame nationalism in Turkey and among Turkish Cypriots who were subjected to terrible massacres[3] between 1963 and 1974 before Turkish intervention to the island following a fascist military coup made by Greek Cypriot organization EOKA-B, aiming the annexation of the island with Greece. It must be noted that Turkish payment for the damages in Cyprus would not be enough to save Cyprus or the EU from the economic crisis!..
European Union’s incomprehensible attitude towards Turks is not only limited to Cyprus Dispute. One might naturally question how the world’s only supranational state-based political organization having the highest standards of democracy could ignore the anti-democratic deeds taking place in Syria and Egypt now or the Khojali Genocide in 1992, while they attach so great importance to the tragic events that happened in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire, a state that was officially collapsed by the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. It is very clear that EU wants to use Armenian issue as a threat to Turkey for the events that took place a century ago and at a time when there was no international law against forced migration while it ignores human rights violations taking place today. It is very plausible for the EU to criticize the current democratic problems and human rights violations in Turkey, but going back to the old pages of history will make nothing but decreasing Europe’s attractiveness and sympathy in Turkey. This shows again the lack of strategic vision among European leaders and strategic planners who try to push Turkey closer to Russia.
The rise of extreme left and extreme right in many European countries also show that the effects of the economic crisis in EU are severe and they are having a negative trend about life quality and democratic standards. EU will certainly face with the risk of losing its attractiveness with the rise of extreme right who has been constantly using Islamophobic and Turcophobic arguments and irritating not just Turkey but also millions of Muslims in the world. Thus, it is not strange to see that Russia has been giving support to European extreme right and wants Turkey to be out of the Western bloc, a move that will certainly change the geopolitical balance in Caucasia and Balkans in favor of Russia. Turkey’s European dream might soon end up because of the double-standard practices towards its EU accession process and the Euroskeptic government in Ankara led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who would probably be the first democratically elected (by popular vote) President of the country in this August.
EU’s lack of strategic vision will also be a serious risk to Western bloc and will probably make the U.S. angry since it will push Turkey closer to Russian Federation. Economic relations between Russia and Turkey have reached its peak in recent years and Russia does not try to drive Turkey into corner because of a century old events. Although Russia could not compete with the EU in terms of democratic standards, strategically it offers more to Turkey by respecting its territorial integrity and not pushing the country for further rapid democratization efforts which could destabilize the country in the short run. Turkey plays a key role as an “energy hub” in the transportation of energy resources from Caucasia and Middle East to Europe and can assume new greater roles related to the transportation of energy resources from the East Mediterranean and Asia to Europe in the near future. Thus, EU’s ideologically motivated approach to Turkey will harm itself more than Turkey since they have been searching for new alternatives after confrontation with Russia due to Ukraine crisis.
Getting away from the EU will also be a serious blow to Turkish democratization and Turkey’s democratic quality but strategically Europe’s losses will be much greater since Turkey never had a first-class democracy until the early 2000s with the domination of politics by the Turkish Armed Forces which was now replaced by a charismatic, populist and authoritarian Islamist leader. The only variable that could change this trend of course would be the American involvement. USA is a country which gives greater importance to strategic thinking in its geopolitical approaches towards international relations compared to EU. The U.S. probably would not want Turkey to be cutting its ties with the EU and thrown out of the Western bloc as a NATO member country neighboring to Russia and protecting European borders. However, the rising Russian influence over European democracies due to their energy dependency on this country may weaken the hand of USA and may not be enough to keep Turkey in the Western sphere of influence in the long run.
EU must now realize that the criticism towards the current authoritarian government and slandering Turkish people’s history are two different things and the latter will make Turkish people more distanced to Western civilization. European leaders should not forget that Erdoğan is just representing % 43 of 76 millions and Turkish-European ties are much deeper and strategic than temporary leaders. Thus, losing Turkish people will be a great mistake for the EU and for the Western world…

[1] “Turkey will ignore ECHR ruling to pay compensation to Greek Cyprus”, Hürriyet Daily News, Date of Accession: 13.05.2014 from http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-will-ignore-echr-ruling-to-pay-compensation-to-greek-cyprus-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=66395&NewsCatID=510.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Memories of these massacres are still alive and can be seen in “Barbarium Museum” in Lefkoşa/Nicosia on northern Cyprus. See; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWwgaOHMb08.

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