Does Turkey need the EU anyway? – Middle East Monitor

Australia’s abandonment of the French submarine deal is a turning point in the strength and solidarity of the US-led Western alliance, which dominated the world stage after the end of the war. cold and the formation of the world order oriented towards the West.

Over the past three decades, there was a state of harmony and coherence between the United States and its global allies, including European countries, Canada, Australia, and others. This was represented by supporting the US-led wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, and other hot issues around the world.

Turkey, for its part, sided with the Western camp during the Cold War and early post-Cold War era, maintaining close ties and alliances with the United States. and Europe. In the 90s of the last century, Turkey made great efforts to join the European Union (EU), but suffered a long process of procrastination. However, during Turkey’s long waiting period, many changes and developments on the world stage have taken place.

In recent years, European countries, mainly France, have started to realize how marginalized they are on the international stage in the face of events such as the Ukrainian crisis with Russia and the differences between France and the United States over the management of the Syrian crisis. Likewise, the same can be said of the Iranian case, where the American position was the dominant player in relations with Iran. Last but not least, the United States dominated the international community’s approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, even with the presence of the international quartet (the United States, the EU, the United Nations (UN) and Russia. ).

New alliance

At a September 15 joint virtual press conference for US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the latter announced his country’s termination of a multibillion-dollar deal with France and the signing of a new one with the United States and the United Kingdom to buy nuclear-powered submarines, instead of French diesel-powered submarines.

This decision shocked France, which described it as a “stab in the back”. Paris has recalled its ambassadors in Canberra and Washington for consultations. Other European countries were also stunned, as they felt marginalized and their voices ignored on the world stage.

The move was the signal for a new global alliance known as AUKUS, in reference to Australia, the UK and the US. It was formed primarily to deal with what these countries perceive as the growing Chinese threat in the Southeast Asian region. AUKUS formation means that the old alliances, in this case NATO, were seen as unable to achieve the security and national interests of AUKUS countries due to the differences among its members.

Turkey’s position

Following such significant global development, some countries are likely to reconsider their priorities. Turkey, for example, has long sought to join the EU, but has seen its application delayed and blocked by some EU member countries, notably France and Greece.

Turkey’s membership application began in April 1987 and was officially recognized as a full membership candidate on December 12, 1999, at the Helsinki Summit of the European Council. Since then, no major progress has been made.

In the context of current developments and changing dynamics on the world stage, with Russia and China becoming provocative and powerful countries politically, economically and militarily, the influence of the EU has diminished. Former US President Donald Trump has deliberately distanced himself from the EU and accused it of being “trained to take advantage of the United States.” It was an early indication of the divide between Europe and the United States.

On the other hand, relations between Turkey and Europe, led by France, have been freezing in many cases. The bloc has sought to undermine Ankara by leading anti-Turkish attitudes on many issues, notably, the Syrian crisis, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Libyan crisis. Another latent anti-Turkish campaign from Europe, and in particular France, was their objection to Turkish support for Azerbaijan in its long conflict with Armenia over the Azeri region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Beyond europe

With Turkey currently open to diverse alliances and partnerships with other countries around the world, EU membership would hamper its policies of openness with other countries. Europe has long standing differences with countries like Russia and China, and is viewed negatively by many African countries due to its colonial past. Thus, Turkey’s accession to the EU would constitute an obstacle to establishing partnerships with other countries, as it would be considered as belonging to the European camp. Turkey will do itself good by giving up its quest for EU membership.

Today, Turkey has a strong footprint on the African continent with full diplomatic relations with most of the countries on the continent; it now has embassies in 44 African countries out of the 54 African countries. Turkey is also a central and strategic country in its three important surrounding regions: the Balkan region and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus region and the Middle East.

Turkey’s unique position and influence in these regions has prompted world powers to engage with Turkey to resolve issues in these regions. This was clearly seen in the Syrian crisis and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as Turkey held talks with Russia on reaching settlements for both conflicts.

EU membership could move Turkey away from building strong relationships with other important countries in the world, including Russia and China, in addition to building relationships with other regional partners through the world, as in the case of the Turkish-Azeri-Pakistani strategic partnership.

READ: EU envoy hails Turkey’s success in educating Syrian refugee children

Turkish-Russian relations are historically entrenched and in recent years they have deepened, as evidenced by their increased defense cooperation with the signing of the S-400 missile defense system and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant being a few. notable examples.

At the same time, China has signed ten bilateral agreements with Turkey since 2016, notably in the field of health and nuclear energy. China is now Turkey’s second largest import partner after Russia. The great Chinese economic initiative “Belt and Road” is also very beneficial for Turkey. Sino-Turkish cooperation involves deepening bilateral military and security ties, including intelligence and cyber warfare.

Moreover, and most importantly, there are no common political interests between Turkey and Europe, as in the days of the Cold War. Their differences are clear on many issues, including the issue of Cyprus, the Libyan and Syrian crises and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Based on developments on the world stage, it should also be mentioned that the EU would be busy building its own defense capabilities to deal with its perceived threats, and such a step will place further restrictions on Turkey if it has to. become a member of the EU. .

Turkey’s new openness to the world has more advantages than having certain advantages in joining the EU. While it was worth joining a few decades ago, this is no longer the case in our contemporary times. In light of all the aforementioned developments, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Ankara will soon give up its quest for EU membership in favor of more diverse and strategic relations with the world.

READ: Turkey is now the destination of choice for Palestinians

The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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