24 Mayıs 2011 Salı

Istanbul-centered Middle East an Alternate instead of Brussels?


            On April 14, 1987 Turkey applied for full membership in European Union. However,  an adverse opinion fort he full membership of Turkey was delivered to europen community. After this, on march 6, 1985 the custom union decision was taken in partnership council meeting and it was ratified by the european parlliamen on december 13, 1995. Thus, as of january 1, 1996 the treaty has been invoked between Turkey and European community.
            However, Turkey’s ultimate aim is to be a full member of EU.Turkey attained the expected result in Helsinki summit conference in 1999 and gained the status of candidate country. With the decision taken by european union summit that convened on December 17, 2004 Turkey entered in the process of negotiations whic started on October 2005 and , are still continuing. In this process, Turkey is supposed to perform the 35 tasks anticipated under the topics of negotiations. Contact between Turkey and EU has been proceeding in an up and down way since the begining  till today. It is hard to say that Turkey gains a clear stability in the period of negotiations which is called as the last step. The disagreement on Turkey’s becoming a full member country of the community in EU and variable desire of Turkey’s public opinion about the membership are the most concrete examples of this event.
            Mainly the right-wing politicians’ being on duty (notably Merkel and Sarkozy) and the administrators’(selected for presidency of EU council and foreign relations committee in Lisbon concordat) opposing speech have been raising the adverse opinion about Turkey’s full membership process. Although, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu pointed out that the number of visits to europa are much more than anywhere else in the light of the numbers in the meeting assesment 2009, the recent progress in Turkey foreign relations policies has been interpreted as Turkey is swinging and this created a confusion ambiance in and around the europa.
            Whether the only alternate is EU is putted into words at times in Turkey. Also, being practised double standarts by EU is the another case which is questioned. As a result of all these, Turkey’s alternates have become the main topic of conversation. ”The reforms of EU are important for us, at the and of the process Turkey will decide on whether to become a member or not”[1] said the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and it is still in living memory. This declaration and The President of Turkey Abdullah Gul’s declaration about Turkey’S swinging match up with eachother.
            On the other hand, “to understand the politic path of Turkey, it is enough to understand which conditions Turkey is trying to improve”[2] said The President Gul. Both of the declarations show Turkey needs EU’s guiding for fulfilling its responsibilities for reforms completely. While these declarations do not give any opinion about Turkey’s altimate aim, Turkey has gotten an important place among the middle east countries with it’s recent foreign policies and it brings another alternate to minds. The opinion of Turkey’s tendecy to perform EU model in middle east has been putted into words by some experts. Considering the foundation of EU, the aims were ending the wars on the continent and the association among european countries mainly by economical structure. Thus, Turkey’s no-problem policy with it’s neighbouring countries and establishing institutes for  advanced strategic association make sense at this point. The agreement on removing the borders between Turkey and Syria and also the free trade agreement show that Syria is the pilot country if there is a EU model in the middle east. Besides, removing the borders brought about ban of smoking in some part of Syria alike in Turkey. Hence, it shows that Syria is directly effected by Turkey and taking Turkey as a model for it’s reforms. Another thing that strengthens the example of Syria’s being pilot country is that the free trade agreement includes the service sector and the intend for having shared air space application with Syria which is same in EU. If Turkey and Syria have an agreement on shared air space application which is thought to be agenda item in the advanced strategical corporation council meeting, Damascus-Istanbul flights will be possible like Istanbul-Ankara flights.
            In the meanwhile the shared air space project has an extendable potential among the other middle east countries. Since, Turkey and middle east aero group (T-MAG) (Iraq also attended on september,2009) was established on May 2009 by Turkey, Syria and Lebonan[3]. Moreover, Lebonan’s wish for attending the advanced strategical coorparation council meetings and prolonging it as tripartite meetings indicates that contact between Turkey and Lebonan will be increased. It is possible to reach a Turkey –centered middle east union model with the contacts that Turkey has started with Syria (as a pilot country) Lebonan Iraq and other middle east countries. It is likely that U.S will support such a model since it is to U.S’ benefit to have a sunni Turkey centered region against Iran who wants to create a shia-centered region in the meanwhile. Considering the EU integration has started with the aim of ending the conflicts, it is probable that the integration Turkey has started with it’s troubled neighbouring country Syria will end the conflicts in middle east. At that point it is possible to think tht Turkey’s and U.S’ national interests match up with eachother. As it is known, U.S believes in establishing Palestine goverment and sometimes might react to Israel in a harsh response.[4] If the middle east region which is the resource of setting of global terrorism has the welfare conditions, it will be benefical for all global powers.
            Turkey has been distinguishing as the lead country that can end the conflicts. Turkey’s secular state experience which dates back years ago and it’s remarkable democratic culture among the middle east countries have a vital importance at that point. Considering the growing demand for freedom, the gaining human rights importance and reaching the knowledge easily with the help o the developing technology in a globalising world, middle east public's expectation for taking the advantage of them too will make easier this integration period.
            Consequently, the changing foreign policy of Turkey is a current reality that everybody accepts. Althought, full membership of EU became a goverment policy, when thinking the opposition to turkey in EU, it has become inevitable for Turkey to seek for different models. It is no doubt that a Turkey which has the lead in the middle east and imports democracy and human rights to there will increase it’s importance in the sight of EU.
            The opposition to islam which has broken out mainly with the minaret crises recently and the countries those have islamic population such as Bosnia Herzegovinia, Kosovo and Turkey’s being deprive of visa liberalization rights given to Serbia, Montanegro and Macedonia have been offering new strategies to Turkey in middle east geography that Turkey can easly take part with it’s historical cultural heritage and islamic population. If Turkey puts EU model into practise in Caucasia and Balkan peninsula as well, it might create possibility for an alternate to Brussels as Istanbul centered Turkish perspective ( pax-ottoman) in Turkey’s foreign policy.

(14.10.2009)


[1]    http://www.tumgazeteler.com/?a=1057788
[2]    http://www.tumgazeteler.com/?a=1057788
[3]    http://web.shgm.gov.tr/kurumsal.php?page=haberler&id=1&haber_id=916
[4]    http://www.realhaber.com/news_detail.php?id=6730

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