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Turkey: The heart is in the East and the mind is in the West

turkey map.jpgSunday, August 14, 2011 - After the Ottoman Empire's collapse, following World War I, Turkish revolutionaries led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk emerged victorious in the Turkish War of Independence, establishing in 1923 the modern Turkish Republic as it exists today.


Atatürk, founder of the republic, implemented a series of reforms, including industrialization and  modernization of  the country. His death commandment to his people was: always look to the West.


Turkey, During World War II, remained neutral until February 1945 when it joined the Allies. The country took part in the Marshall Plan of 1947, became a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and a member of NATO in 1952. During the Cold War, Turkey allied itself with the United States and Western Europe, and significantly contributed to the success of that alliance in the cold war.


Turkey's application to accede to the European Union was made on 14 April 1987. Turkey has been an associated  member of the European Union (EU) since 1963. After the ten founding members, Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and was also a founding member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961. Turkey has been a founding member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) 1973 as well.


Turkey was officially recognized, at the Helsinki Summit of the European Council on 12 December 1999 as a candidate for full membership. Negotiations started on 3 October 2005. This membership has become a contentious issue, and a controversy on its own as far as the ongoing enlargement of the European Union is concerned.

Why the issue is Contentious? 

Why this issue has been pending although Turkey met most technical conditions required by the EU? Let us examine the situation after looking at some elements:


1 - 97% of the 783,562 km2 land of Turkey falls in Asia, while 3% is in Europe.

2 - 96% of the 74 Million population is Muslim.

3 - The GDP (PPP) of Turkey is $1.116 trillion, and the per capita is $15,137. Turkey presently has the world's 15th largest economy.

4 - Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Tayyip Erdoğan has been elected three times as Prime Minister in 2002, in 2007 and in 2011. The regional and international weight of Turkey, and its economy saw great progress during the years of  Erdoğan.

5 - PM Erdoğan  made almost strategic alliances with the theological regime in Iran and the Syrian dictatorship, although deep historical resentment and competition exit between Turkey and these two regimes.

6 - He also greatly improved trade and political relations with the entire Arab world.

7 - Turkey has failed to solve its Kurdish minority issue, and hasn’t addressed the European sensitive Cypriot issue in a fair manner.

8 - The Armenian minority in Europe is active.

9 - Turkey’s record on human rights is still unacceptable.


The Analysis


Perhaps  the answer to this critical  question can  be derived from these very above Nine elements. The Geography and culture of Turkey are not European, while its democratic system and economic progress qualify it to become a part of the EU.


It seems the EU has reservations about Turkey’s accession due to its exaggerated concentration on the cultural  differences, and its reasonable emphasis on the Kurdish issue, Armenian issue, improvement of human rights, the Cypriot situation , and PM Erdogan’s lack of strategic vision and decision.


Although PM Erdogan has charisma, good will, good intentions, and tremendous capabilities and qualities,  he doesn’t seem to have a clear strategic vision. He hasn’t decided whether he wants to see Turkey in Europe or in Asia. He hasn’t strategically chosen  if  Turkey is pro democracy or pro dictatorship. Once he makes ultimate choices with conviction, most pending issues will automatically be solved, and the road to the EU will be easier.


His regional polices provide good example of lack of strategic vision. Some of his policies are mysterious:


1- He hindered UN resolution against Colonel Qaddafi as much as he could.

2- The Syrian protestors maintain that he inspired hope to them, but he left them without cover after he reached some mysterious arrangement with the Syrian regime.

On 4 August 2011 : PM  Erdoğan  declared that his patience with the atrocities of the Syrian regime is about to run out, and that he will send his FM to Syria on 9 August with a “final decisive message”. Turkish FM declared after meetings in Syria that the meetings were good, and that results and serious reforms are expected to materialize in Syria “within days”. On 10 August the Turkish PM stated that serious reforms in Syria are expected in “two weeks”.


The protestors stated  that Syrian regime believes that it can solve the Syrian crisis with shear force within two weeks, and two weeks were granted!.


The Syrian protestors shouted on Friday : “Erdogan : either be clear or be silent”. 


3- He allowed Iran to have full control over Iraq. Many say that the Iraqi administration is sectarian, reactionary, and completely pro Iran.


Written by Basel Adnan & Magda Cristina Butucea 







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