DREAMING ON THE BOSPHORUS? ISTANBUL NEW FOREIGN POLICY AND THE EU
"The EU, however, will only want to work more with Turkey if it senses that the leadership there is broadly aligned with the objectives of EU foreign policy. Erdogan and his colleagues would have to be more careful about making statements that appear to set Turkish foreign policy apart from western objectives. Today’s Turkey enjoys credibility in the Muslim world. Professions of friendship with Ahmedinejad or a seeming defence of al-Bashir appear unnecessary and counterproductive. Moreover, Turkey would have to supply some evidence that it uses its growing ties with neighbouring countries to pass on tough messages from time to time and stand up for western values. For example, instead of rushing to congratulate Ahmedinejad on his victory in the rigged election of June 2009, Turkey should have insisted that democratic rules be upheld. Regaining momentum Ankara and Brussels need to put some substance into the often-repeated mantra that the country is an ‘asset’ for the EU. If Turkey and the EU miss this opportunity, the consequences for both sides, and for the entire region, might be dire. Without the EU anchor, Turks may feel they have nowhere else to turn but towards their more autocratic neighbours. The reform process in Turkey may founder. Turkey’s neighbours would be less interested in working with Turkey if it was ‘just another Muslim autocracy’. Reformers in the region would lose hope. Hardliners would feel vindicated in their belief that the EU is a Christian club that turned down Turkey because of a clash of civilisations. If the EU and Turkey succeeded in reinforcing their foreign policy co-operation, Turkey would feel more valued and the risk that Turkish foreign policy runs counter to western objectives would be reduced. The experience of Turkish-EU alignment on important international issues – if communicated well – could be used as an argument to win over some sceptics in Western Europe. And it would make some Turks feel less bitter about the EU. It could therefore help to propel the accession negotiations forward".
Katinka Barysch, "Can Turkey Combine EU Accession & regional Leadership?" January 2010, in www.cer.org.uk
"'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. 'I do', Alice hastily replied; 'at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know.' 'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'Why, you might just as well as say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see!'"
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, 1865.
Katinka Barysch is the Deputy Director of the Centre of European Reform, which is as per Foreign Policy, the 16th best 'Think Tank', in the world, outside the USA (see:www.foreignpolicy.com). Ergo, she is a member of the European pays legal, one of the European 'great and the good' . Her essay on the London based Think Tank's web site, is of a piece with thinking with the bien pensant attitude vis-`a-vis the Turkish State. One of course employs the word 'thinking' in a pickwickian sense of the word. In point of fact what one sees here, is a species of mental retardation. Rien plus. In point of fact, the reality is that the current AKP government in the Porte, has embarked upon a series of foreign policy moves. Some on the surface at any rate appear to be anti-Western on the rhetorical face of it. Others, such as the recent attempts to achieve a rapprochement with Armenia, much less so. Do these multi-faceted foreign policy gambits mean that Ankara has embarked upon a purely anti-Western foreign policy line? No. Does Ankara's policies mean that it is actively seeking to become a regional hegemon? No. Or at least not any more than in Ankara's previous bouts of foreign policy activism. Such as in the 1950's with the ill-fated Northern Tier project. What Ankara's recent moves in regional diplomacy do mean is that Turkish foreign policy is gravitating more and more to an 'Islamic-friendly' visage. Concretely nothing has changed, nor will much change in Turkish foreign policy. Objectively speaking let us say. However, subjectively speaking, in terms of the tenor of Turkish policy, the tone of said policy, will be more and more in alignment with the constituency of the AKP government. Id. est., an Islamic-friendly / 'good neighbor' foreign policy. A foreign policy, which substantively does not amount to much, but, which on the surface at any rate appears to be more in tune with the wishes of the great, Islamic unwashed, who are the base of support of the AKP government. To read the above trends as something which necessitates that the EU railroad Ankara into its ranks betrays a rather willful disregard of elementary facts. But, then again, perhaps such a mental exercise is part and parcel of being a member of the European bien pensant elite? The question provides its own answer unfortunately.