July 19, 2010 |  12 comments |  Print this Article  Your Opinion  

Ulf  Gartzke

GMF's Pro-Turkey Bias

Ulf Gartzke: The West assumes that Turkey’s Islamist AKP government plays a constructive role in the Middle East, promoting “universal values.” This view is dangerously mistaken. Instead of full EU membership, a far more cautious “privileged partnership” between the EU and Turkey should be pursued for now.

A newly released policy report on Turkey by the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Academy in Washington caught my eye this week. The report was dubbed, "Getting to Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors and the West," and the brief's analysis and policy recommendations unfortunately display a distinct pro-Turkish bias which fails to recognize that Ankara's aggressive foreign and security policy posture is increasingly at odds with core U.S. and European interests.

Turkey has not only been working hard to prevent tougher sanctions on its close regional partner Iran - see the recent Turkey-Brazil nuclear deal with Tehran and its "no" vote at the UN Security Council - but has also purposely used the flotilla incident to provoke Israel into military action, while simultaneously boosting its own standing in the Arab world. Turkish flags and portraits of Prime Minister Erdogan are now ubiquitous in the Gaza Strip, where Turkey is being hailed by Hamas and other Muslim extremist groups for daring to confront the Jewish state. Also, tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets across major Turkish cities in recent days, waving Hezbollah and Palestinian flags, while chanting "Allah is Great" and "Down with Israel." 

The entire report seems to be based on the assumption that Turkey's Islamist AKP government, at this moment, is already a constructive player in the Middle East, which helps promote "universal values" in the region. Well, for more information on the Islamist/terrorist connections of the Turkish IHH "charity" that organized the flotilla to break Israel's Gaza blockade see here, here, and here.

Several of the report's policy recommendations, especially those aimed at the EU and U.S., are also quite disconcerting. The EU partners, for example, are urged to "[c]onduct relations with Turkey according to the principle of pacta sunt servanda, a central pillar of the European integration project." It is not necessary to remind the EU of the pacta sunt servanda (Latin for "agreements must be kept") concept, which is of course a fundamental principle of international law. After all, Brussels seems fully committed to continuing its accession negotiations with Ankara (first started in 2005) at all cost, despite growing evidence that Turkey's early, limited progress on the road toward closer European integration has been undone in recent years by the erratic and increasingly nationalist policies of Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist AKP government. To this day, Ankara refuses to recognize Cyprus, an existing EU member, as a sovereign state. If anything, pacta sunt servanda can only refer to the notion that the EU negotiations with Turkey should continue (as an open-ended process); it cannot and should not be used in an ill-advised attempt to force the EU to eventually accept Ankara regardless of the outcome of the accession talks. That commitment was never made to the Turks. 

As for the U.S., the report recommends, inter alia, that Washington "[s]upport Turkey's EU membership through quiet diplomacy by encouraging Turkey's reform efforts and indicating to its European partners that the notion of ‘privileged partnership' lacks credibility and undermines the letter and the spirit of the accession process." For sure, if Washington wants to continue to press for Turkish EU membership, it is certainly well-advised to do so discreetly behind the scenes, not using the type of counter-productive megaphone diplomacy espoused by President Obama (and previous U.S. presidents for that matter). As key European leaders like French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel have repeatedly emphasized, the decision on Turkey's potential EU accession will be taken by each of the 27-member states, not by any outside party. 

The report also makes a mistake by dismissing outright the concept of a "privileged partnership." While Turkey and the EU are continuing their accession talks, it is obviously far too early to tell what the endgame will be and whether Turkey will ever be ready - or still be willing - to join the EU in the future. It is therefore only prudent and honest to start defining the parameters of a "privileged partnership" (or whatever you want to call it) with countries such as Turkey as a viable, potential alternative to full EU membership. The concept could also be used to structure relations with other strategically important countries (Ukraine, Algeria, Morocco, etc.) that, for a variety of reasons, are either unable or unwilling to join the EU.

The executive summary of the Turkey report concludes with the following words: "As the policy recommendations ... make clear, the report does not propose an uncritical appraisal of Turkish actions but one which recognizes that contributions to American and European goals may come in a new, and perhaps unfamiliar, guise."  
Reading these words, I do not know whether to laugh or cry.

Ulf Gartzke is a contributor to The Weekly Standard blog. This article first appeared on the Weekly Standard Online and is republished here with permission.

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Jordan  Brown

July 19, 2010

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Is a "privileged partnership" something worth pursuing if the AKP continues to "act up" by EU standards?

And is the EU really even considering full membership for Turkey anytime soon? It seems that the flotilla, refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, Cyrpus, and having a party like the AKP in power would all contributing to spooking by at least several of the EU member states.

I don't imagine that Mr. Gartzke is checking comments on Atlantic Community since his opinion is republished from the Weekly Standard. But maybe someone else with some insight could offer an answer to my question. I'm really just looking to be a little more enlightened on this whole subject of the EU and its relationship to Turkey.

Tags: | Turkey-EU |
 
Member deleted

July 20, 2010

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It should be noted carefully that Turkeys shift increased after it felt the EU would not allow a promised full membership, however, leveled up its afford to modernize its economy and institutions.

The Geo-strategic location of Turkey has always been protected to some extend, hence, the EU lacks leverage to move it suitable as Turkey gains more to challenge the West at least on levels of public diplomacy.

However I do not think the AKP would risk to cooperate with a terrorist organization as it gains considerable solidarity among western states for its struggle with the PKK.

I am chilled that the French guy just remembered the IHH could be linked to AL-Q that close... but truly, the NATO witch-hunt against that kind of organizations after 9/11 was that bold... If the IHH would really be what has been said after the Flotilla, it would never have had the financial and political capabilities to manage and initiate a humanitarian mission like that, would they? Especially as it acted among Western nations openly and publicly...

But OK ... if one wants to further alienate Turkey, go on. Turkey will gain strategic leverage across the region and Israel loose its onliest Muslim ally and maybe NATO in the wake of it.

As for now Turkey appears to be the only way to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, therefore it may be very much in our best western interest.

Regarding Iran Turkey succeeded to present a written paper, that, even if not bold enough, now describes a red line Iran will not be able to cross behind after all... In summary IRANIAN URANIUM WILL BE SHIPPED ABROAD IN ANY CASE... CONGRATULATIONS

@Jordan: No it gains much more tip by proceeding over transition fees on oil and gas on higher flexibility as there are players who would love to see Turkey being influenced on decisions with regard to European lifelines from Moscow over Beijing to Teheran. I scratched the surface of this issue already at Mr. Bonnenbergs last piece.
 
Darrell Calvin Brown

July 20, 2010

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The Pros and Cons: "I see plans within plans within plans..." Nuclear power plants- maybe in the right frame of mind maintaining peace unanimously. Nuclear weaponry-Never Never Never -because it would spill over into the borders of Georgia and the Black Sea.
 
Member deleted

July 20, 2010

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The present Turco-EU relationship has often been interpreted as a type of “Privileged Partnership” existent as such and the next step under negotiation is “Full Membership”.

Any delay or uncertainty in EU accession absolutely need not hinder our development or progress in any respect.

For instance, some small businessmen in Turkey seems look at the Turco-EU relations in this way: To run our businesses we have to keep on making short or medium or long term planning as usual and go ahead and implement them without any breaks in spite of the uncertainties involved in EU accession, if any, as the author seems to imply.
 
Ulf  Gartzke

July 20, 2010

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Dear Jordan,

Many thanks for your two interesting questions.

First, Turkey is an important and rising power which is located in one of the world's toughest neighborhoods. In a number of crucial policy areas (Iran, etc.), Turkey can be either part of the problem or part of the solution. It is therefore important to find appropriate cooperative political / institutional arrangements short of full EU membership that maximize the likelihood of Ankara pursuing policies in line with Western / European / U.S. interests (these may not always be congruent of course).

As for your second question, neither the EU nor Turkey are actually ready for full Turkish membership in the Union. Also, I don't see majorities in countries such as France or Austria approving any eventual Turkey-EU deal through referendums...

That being said, the Turkey-EU accession negotiations do continue and new chapters have been opened in recent years, so I think it's important to make sure that there's a viable "Plan B" in place in case these negotiations stall or fail (b/c European voters don't approve a deal, etc.).
 
Member deleted

July 20, 2010

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If it is needed to discuss at all of any need to develop an alternate B plan, I personally suppose the previously suggested option by President of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Abdullah Gül, is more than sufficient: Some form of the Norwegian Model…
 
Member deleted

July 20, 2010

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From my viewpoint it looks like EU has two strategies – outside official diplomatic statements – for future process with Turkey: Either EU is waiting that Turkey never will comply the membership criteria or it is innovating new obstacles to guarantee this. As Turkey is extremely important economical partner for EU as well rising EU’s energy hub I think that a “privileged partnership” would be the best option for Turkey as well EU too.

During next few years Turkey will come an energy hub through further development of Blue Stream pipeline from Russia and implementation of South Stream, possible implementation of Nabucco and planned import of gas from Iraq and Iran. So in energy game Turkey will have some aces; if not membership EU must offer very attractive “third way” solution for Turkey.

From my point of view “privileged partnership” could preindicate a possible search of “third way” between EU member- and non-membership. The model – when first created – could be copied also with some other countries which now are in enlargement process or included in Eastern Partnership program. On the bottom line “privileged partnership“ could be a pragmatic model of the future relations between Turkey and the EU, it can be better alternative for all stakeholders than full EU membership.

More one can find e.g. from my post “Turkey's EU hopes – is there any?”
http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/turkeys-eu-hopes-is-there...
 
David  Foster

July 20, 2010

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Although the AKP's behaviour towards Israel is more than disgusting, it is a charade. Throughout the entire decade Turco-Israeli relations were not affected has they are now and yet the PM is still the same. The issue in Turkey is image, sadly the largest percentage of the population is anti-Israeli, if not anti-Semitic; Erdogan knowns he can still be allies with Israel under the counter but pretend to be anti-Israeli.

Erdogan has three fronts coming at him, 1, the economy is going awful, 2, his failed promises to minorities are seriously jeopardising the votes that gave him the 47% he had in the previous elections, 3, the main opposition party has a new leader whose popularity is increasing while his is decreasing.

What better solution than to create a diversion that would elevate his image. The IHH armada was, in AKP terms, god sent. It was easily calculated by many that something was bound to have happened and create a tension with Israel. If Erdogan's scene at Davos made his popularity get back where it used to be, this new and serious tension with Israel will most certainly rocket his popularity to a new level in the stratosphere but also it will distract Turkish citizens' concerns on economy, minority rights and political promises from the crude reality to this new diplomatic toy.
Tags: | Turkey | Israel |
 
Member deleted

July 21, 2010

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First of all I think I have to point out to the fact that there have never been any concepts in the Islamic Civilization like “islamic fundamentalism” or “islamism” or “islamic terrorism” or “islamophobia” and so on.

Such terminology and the associated concepts seem to have been recent products of some Western countries manufactured purposefully to be used in ill-advised massive propaganda purposes to be employed in generation of conflicts between the Islamic World and the West in order to justify needless Western military agression into the Islamic territories.

It is on the other hand true that ~ 99% of the Turkish population living in Turkey are followers of the Islamic Faith and they are proud of it…

It has no scholastical bases to refer to AKP as being “islamist” since all polical parties present in Turkey –whether represented in the Turkish Parliament or not- happen to have had bases of membership or electorate composition naturally coming out of the followers of the Islamic Faith plus some none-muslim minorities.

Without being able to understand these basic facts which I have tried to point out very briefly above, nobody can make sensible political and/or cultural analyses as related Turkey & the Turkish people. Otherwise the analysts will be misled either intentionally or unintentioally…

Before being able to have a sound and worthwhile discussion on Turkey, Turkish People or Turkish Politics, I think it is an absolute necessity that one gets his terminology straightened out first and gets rid of the fictive conceptual jargon with which their minds may have been uploaded with.

On the other hand I am afraid that we end up with getting stuck with rubbish rather than a fruitful discussion at all.
Tags: | turkish politics | :T |
 
Ugur  Bozkurt

July 21, 2010

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i am new at this network and this is my first ditribution; sorry if i maybe not arguing logical in regards what would be best and what not, but rather more on one thing, that many politicians incline to forget and ignore : proud.

The turks are a very proud nation, thus after tens of years trying to get a full membership to the EU and always failing on obstacles build into their way, they had had enough i think. we have seen, how the EU embraced ex-soviet satellite states in a rush, ignoring corruptcy and democracy lacks in these nations to a great extent just to get them out of the political reach of Russia. and the argument i heard most for the membership is : they are europeans. so this means for the turks : we are not europeans.

This thinking slowly drips into the turkish mind and Tayyip Erdogan is intelligent enough to recognize this, thus altering his foreign policies towards iran, brazil, russia. the goal seems to be to build an own axis in the region ( russia, turkey,iran) as a counterpart to europe.

and in my opinion, i could be really wrong here, europe and the nato need turkey more than vice versa.

i regret it, that europe hasnt have played with a more open hand with turkey, becuase for the last tens of years the dealing were always about a full membership bevor chancellor merkel invented the "privileged partnership" term. that had to annoy the turkish leadership, after all the efforts they took to gain a full membership, sure enough there are many topics where turkey has to improve, beginning with the acknowledgement of the armenien genocide, over improving chances for minorities, allowing religious minorities to build churches and similar and so on, but these are changes which cant be enforced through sheer political pressure in the public.

with best regards
ugur bozkurt
 
Unregistered User

July 29, 2010

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Unfortunately, absolutely right.

And it is even worse that stated in this article.

A Plan B is needed irrespective of possible failure of negotiations.

The real danger of not keeping agreements with Turkey would come if the accession talks were to succeed. In that case, one or more of the EU national publics would inevitably reject the agreement in a referendum -- and the others would almost all be against it too, even if not given a referendum to say so. If EU pressures were brought to bear on such publics, some of them would seriously threaten to leave the EU rather than stay in an EU with Turkey. For the unfortunately legitimate reason that an EU with the Turkish population as citizens is not the same Union that they agreed to join. In the unlikely event that the EU somehow managed to get Turkey in anyway, it would suffer such a loss of loyalty from its existing publics as to cease to be a Union capable of integrating anyone. More likely, the agreement would simply be broken -- and in the most unpleasant possible way, full of political and ideological fireworks and threats on all sides, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Far better to end it more quietly before it gets to that.

The only way to end this danger is to end the accession talks altogether for this generation, and replace them with a Plan B.

The diplomatic consequences will be serious in any case, but they will be less if there is a responsible, non-demagogic government in Turkey, and a responsible, non-demagogic Administration in Washington that is willing to understand the reality and do its share to impress that reality on Turkey. And to help in developing plan Bs.

The need to abandon the membership goal for this generation is one that holds, irrespective of the Turkish government's recent turns toward Islamism and anti-Westernism. Those turns should rather lead to some serious hard rethinking on the Atlantic level -- NATO, G7, OECD -- about Turkey, its role in the Atlantic community, and the Western future in the region.

It is possible that a deeper integration of the Atlantic community could serve as a Plan B.

For example, an Atlantic or OECD customs union, which would not get into the question of common citizenship at this stage, would make it possible for the West to integrate Turkey on a Plan B that upgrades Turkey's role and stature without creating a sense of existential threat to anyone. Likewise, an upgrading of NATO into a security union, capable of taking more common decisions, and more flexibly, would serve to upgrade Turkey’s role.

What is necessary is to find bargains that, as the integration theorists always pointed out, upgrade the common interest without threatening any vital societal interests of any one side. This is easier to do in the large Atlantic space than in the smaller EU space, where Turkey appears as too large for an already overextended Union. And where citizenship is already an established commodity of the Union, and one that Union citizens do not wish to share with Turkey.

The Islamist turn within Turkey may also, to be sure, help motivate the requisite rethink in the EU, but the necessity of it was there in any case out of pre-existing conditions. Turkish accession was never a real possibility. When it was promised as a goal in the 1960s, we imagined that we knew how to "develop" countries. Life has proved hard on this assumption. Later, the Copenhagen criteria created a false impression of a mechanical criterion-satisfaction basis for membership. Their practical significance has been to contribute to Islamization in the name of democratization, undermining the Turkish Republic’s once solid military anchor to secularism, moderation, modernization, and the West. Membership should have never been promised as an imminent actionable process in the 1990s; this was already known to be dishonest, a promise that could never be fulfilled and could only create trouble.

Ever since then, we have seen that, the more seriously membership is discussed, the more has made trouble in fact ---- the more clear it becomes that it cannot happen, the more Turkey is alienated by the whole process, and the more European citizens are alienated from the EU at the same time.

Blind American pressures on Europe have contributed to making this promise, to keep making it, and to keep alienating Turkey. As to America’s ritual blaming of Turkey's Islamization on the EU’s failure to commit suicide and keep the promise: this may have served to score a few cheap diplomatic points for the US at Europe’s expense -- similar to the cheap points Europeans too often try to score at the expense of the US, which Americans deeply and rightly resent -- but has added to the net losses by the West.
 
Member deleted

August 13, 2010

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While one may argue that Turkey should not become a full fledged EU member for several reasons, quite some of the arguments given by both the author and the commentators are misleading.

a) The Turkish government was not the driving force behind the Gaza boats. It was a private initiative that the government did allow to continue. But that's it. And in my opinion there was also no real basis on which they could have stoped these boats.
b) While the IHH is a conservative and Islamic charity organization till today there has been no real proof that the alledged links to terrorist groups do (still) exist. Even if they do the action undertaken by the boats (which carried more non IHL members than IHL members) were not terroristic in nature.
c)The argument that Turkey's economy is facing huge difficulties is somewhat unfounded, Moody's even upgraded Turkey's rating to BB+ in January this year - being one of the few countries having received an upgrade by two points.

I also find it quite irritating with which fervor both the author and Mrs. Strauss mourn the vanishing influence of the Kemalist-military elite. The Kemalist parties and their governments have for years mistreated human rights, democracy and ruined Turkish economy. To present them here as a bulwark of western civilization is plain wrong.
The Islamic tendencies in Turkey have been there for years and their -albeit moderate rise in the last years - comes from decades of oppression through the Kemalist elite.

And last but nor least: That Turkey is turning away from Israel is (not only) because Erdogan needs to score some points with his constituency, but because of the policies Israel has been pursueing for years. Why would a country be allied with one whichs politicians continue to patronize and humiliate Turkey's ministers and diplomats alike?
And even if Erdogan made these moves to please the Turkish public, the fact that anti-Israeli sentiments run so deep are not only grounded in anti-Semitism but in Israel's unwillingnes to change it's policies vis a vis the Palestinians and the region, failing it's obligation under the Roadmap for Peace.
 

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