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A club for outsidersA club for outsiders

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  • A club for outsidersA club for outsiders

    Unable to deal fairly with the Cyprus issue, the EU risks driving Turkey into the arms of an increasingly disguntled Russia.

    At a recent conference in Istanbul, Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, warned that if the EU spurned Turkey, and mishandled its already fraught relations with Russia and Iran, it could find itself facing a triple alliance.

    That idea may seem far fetched, but if one considers the state of the EU's evolving ties with Russia and Turkey, Fischer's warning becomes plausible. In recent years Russia and Turkey have had very different relationships with the EU. Russia, annoyed by the EU's demands that it grant outsiders access to its gas pipelines, and stung by lectures on human rights, has become increasingly anti-European. This year Russian leaders warned the EU that unless it became more cooperative they would send gas to Asia instead of Europe. Turkey, by contrast, has moved closer to the EU, beginning talks on accession last December.

    But that closeness could soon evaporate. Now that the Turks are realising that many EU states - including France and Germany - are hostile to the idea of their joining, they are becoming more hostile to the EU. And if, as is likely, the country's talks with the EU collapse in the autumn, the result will be a surge of Turkish nationalism.

    Those talks will probably collapse because of Cyprus. Turkey will not ratify the extension of its customs union with the EU to the 10 new member-states (including Cyprus) - which means opening its ports to them - unless the EU delivers on its promised restoration of trade links with Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. But the EU cannot, because of Cyprus's veto.

    Russia and Turkey are both uncertain of their European identities. Their pro-Europeans compete with traditionalists who argue that looking east is an option (for Russians, that means China; for Turks, it means the Middle East; for both, it means central Asia). In both countries, a prickly, defensive and sometimes paranoid nationalism is never far beneath the surface.

    Most Russians view the loss of empire in the Gorbachev period as a national humiliation. They lament Boris Yeltsin's kowtowing on foreign policy to a patronising west during the 1990s. Most are glad that high oil prices and Vladimir Putin's more disciplined regime have restored Russia's strength and international standing. Senior figures in the Russian security establishment see Nato as a hostile organisation with an anti-Russian rationale that is intent on surrounding the country and encouraging parts of it to break off.

    Turkey lost its empire much longer ago, but the anguish of the early 1920s - when several European powers invaded it - has not been forgotten or forgiven. When a western European reminds a Turk of his country's failure to apologise for the massacres of Armenians in 1915 or suggests autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, he may be told that western Europeans are reviving ancient schemes to break up Turkey. Hurt by the opposition of several EU counties to their bid for membership, some Turks accuse them of racial or religious prejudice.

    Of course, these sentiments among Russians and Turks are partly justified: there are people in the west (though more in Washington than Europe) who have spent recent years trying to weaken Russia, while a minority of western Europeans (including the Pope) want the EU to be a Christian club.

    National unity is a powerful doctrine in both states, championed by the security services and military establishments. "Foreign forces" are accused of aiding Kurdish and Chechen separatists. In Turkey, many people believe that if separatist Kurds were granted more rights, their state would fall apart. In Russia, anyone who argues for a negotiated solution to the Chechen problem is soon branded unpatriotic.

    Russia is preparing to offer a sympathetic shoulder to a Turkey spurned by the EU. Over the past five years, ties between this once hostile pair have burgeoned. Russia is Turkey's second-biggest trading partner (after Germany), with two-way trade amounting to about $20bn a year. Two million Russian tourists a year visit Turkey. Both countries are suspicious of US efforts to promote democracy in their region. Each has clamped down on the terrorist groups that threaten the other (Kurds in Russia, Chechens in Turkey). And they like the fact that neither lectures on the other on human rights. Putin and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met four times last year. Russian diplomats now wax lyrical about Turkey and Russia becoming leading and allied Eurasian powers.

    If the EU is not careful, it could drive Turkey into Russia's arms. And if that pair teamed up with Iran - with which both have good relations - the EU would face a powerful and potentially hostile trio: two major producers of oil and gas, plus Turkey, which carries crucial pipelines to Europe.

    Anti-EU sentiment is growing in Russia and Turkey. While the EU is hardly to blame for the growth of Russian authoritarianism and nationalism under Putin, its inability to deal fairly with the Cyprus issue is fuelling anti-western feeling in Turkey. If the EU fails to tackle the problem, Joschka Fischer's troubling scenario could come to pass.
    Biji Kurd u Kurdistan!!!
    Biji kurdistana mina delal u sherin!!!
    Biji biratiya gele kurd!!!
    Bimre dijminen gemar u barbar!!!
    Biji Kurdistana min biji!!!

  • #2
    Re: A club for outsidersA club for outsiders

    Yeah, because Turkey is doing Europe such a big favor by joining the EU. Get off your high horse, Mehmet. Sheesh.


    • #3
      Re: A club for outsidersA club for outsiders

      whats up londoner? havent seen you for a while...