ALI – When the US, the EU, and the others are made uncomfortable

When the US, the EU, and the others are made uncomfortableIt is now clear that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) team in Ankara — focused intently not just on revenge, but on strengthening the perception that andldquothere is no corruption, just some people set on a coupandrdquo will do anything, even if it means trampling press freedom and humiliating Turkey before the world. The AKP of today no longer looks towards the West for an example, but rather towards Moscow, Tehran and the East.

This axis shift is not new it is a shift openly defended by the [President Recep Tayyip] ErdoIan team Letand#39s consider some words from Hayrettin Karaman, a close aisor to the president: andldquoWhen the US, the EU and others are made uncomfortable, it shows us Turkey is on the right path.andrdquo (Yeni Iafak, Oct.

31, 2014) Since Hayrettin andldquoHojaandrdquo has been instrumental in getting the AKP to return to the profile of the now-closed conservative Welfare Party (RP), and since he made some memorable statements in connection with the Dec. 17 and 25 corruption investigations about how andldquocorruption is not the same thing as thievery,andrdquo we believe his comments shed some light on Turkeyand#39s current direction.

As most already know, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 in the wake of World War II, with the aim of providing a defensive flank for the andldquoWesternandrdquo front of the new two-pole world that emerged from the global conflict. During the first years of NATO, the original 12 countries that formed the organization, particularly England, did not look warmly upon the prospect of Turkish membership in the belief that it had the potential to cause serious problems with the Soviets.

Much like the talk of a andldquoprivileged partnershipandrdquo that weand#39ve heard over the years in EU circles in reference to Turkeyand#39s relationship to the EU, there were attempts back then to limit Turkeyand#39s connection to NATO through organizations like the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), thus neatly deflecting Turkeyand#39s chances of becoming a real NATO member It was really only because of the resolute stances adopted by both Celal Bayar and Adnan Menderes — and through Ankaraand#39s insistence that any military cooperation from Turkey would be based on the condition that it would be given NATO membership — that Turkeyand#39s membership was possible in the end. A quick glance at our recent history is enough to make clear just how important this essential and strategic decision was for Turkey and how NATO stands today as one of the most important cornerstones of Turkish defense policy.

This essential decision to allow Turkey to become a full NATO member also allowed Turkey to become one of the founding members of the European Council. At the end of the 1950s, Turkey decided in favor of becoming a member of the European Economic Community (EEC), and in fact history has already shown that this was the right decision.

There is no real reason to delve too deeply into the general story to make the point here organizations like the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) no longer exist, England is an EU member and Putin has been able to convince no countries, with the exception of Armenia and Kazakhstan, to join a customs union similar to COMECON. He canand#39t even persuade Georgia One would be well aised to note this also: It is only a matter of time before Russia also signs off on a partnership agreement with the EU.

At the same time, it is also noteworthy that the economic andldquoexpertsandrdquo that surround ErdoIan are not only not reading the statistics and figures incorrectly, but are in awe of Putin — which is why they perceive Russia as an EU alternative. In any case, if we can label NATO membership as the cornerstone of Turkeyand#39s defense policy, we can certainly say that Turkeyand#39s EU accession process is the cornerstone of its economy.

The EU is vital to the Turkish economy, not only in terms of providing a considerable 50 percent of its foreign trade, but also in terms of its role in the structuring of its industrial and service sectors.But these days, the ruling AKP seems preoccupied with trying to damage these cornerstones.

Influential in the ruling party these days is a team seemingly bent on fighting with the andldquoWest,andrdquo determined to view the EU through the lens of andldquocultureandrdquo (which really means the lens of andldquoreligionandrdquo) and confident that Turkeyand#39s future lies in some sort of andldquoIslamic Union.andrdquo And while aisor Karaman may assert that what we see in Turkey is definitely not any sort of andldquoIranification,andrdquo hereand#39s what he wrote directly afterwards: andldquoIf in fact Turkey is heading down the path towards becoming like Iran, it is not possible for any Muslim to be made uncomfortable by this.

andrdquo Another one of the presidentand#39s aisors, YiIit Bulut, thinks similarly, saying: andldquoFor years Turkey vowed to itself andlsquoI will not be broken off from the West and in doing so, it wound up shouldering all sorts of weight, all sorts of dirt, all sorts of burdens. It allowed itself to be used, belittled and undervalued.

But we donand#39t need this anymore.andrdquo Bulut goes on to talk about how Turkey should andldquoLose no more time with Europe, end the relationship and look forward into the future.

andrdquo He then talks about how he dreams of a Turkey guided by a policy of balance (Star, April 9, 2014).To the rest of the world, because of the domestic and foreign policies wielded by the AKP, Turkey no longer gives off the impression of being a country that is both a NATO member and involved in EU accession talks.

Instead, the AKPand#39s policies seem to be aimed at burning bridges. But the truth is, these policies are not sustainable, nor will they pick up social support for much longer Yes, it may take a while for this andldquoaentureandrdquo — which wants to resettle the cornerstones of the Turkish Republic and whose political and economic costs are going to be high — to hit the wall.

But as an aenture that is the product of a blind ideology and that is anathema to reality, it is inevitable that it will hit the wall in time.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman