Tag Archive: Turkey


I was moved to write on the Cyprus issue again by this article:

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-252815-turkey-warns-greek-cyprus-against-hydrocarbon-drill.html

However, this has I think moved beyond an issue about the island itself or even Turkey’s potential EU membership (my views on this are well enough documented on this blog). This is now an issue about how the EU deals with its neighbours . Considering the size of Cyprus, it seems that many people casually forget that they are a fully fledged EU member state-in other words an integral part of one whole-the EU.  What you essentially have here is an EU member state deciding to start a commercial exploration in its own waters and Turkey feels that it has a right to an opinion, and what is more a right to issue threats. The basis of their delusion is understandable, since they somehow think that the presence of Turkish Cypriots anywhere on the island of Cyprus entitles them to a say in the business of Greek Cyprus.

While indeed, the Cyprus situation is more complicated than is usual, it still is an indictment of EU foreign policy that Turkey feels strong enough relative to the Union to take up such an outrageous and belligerent stance.  The issue at this stage is that Turkish side has began to forget itself and it is high time they are reminded that the political, economic and military disparity between them and the EU as a combined force is similar to the disparity between Turkey and Cyprus. It is poor form indeed from the Union leadership to continue to allow Turkey to bully one of its member states purely because they see economic benefit in appeasing Turkey. The reality of the situation is that while Turkey is a strong trading partner, commerce works both ways. Turkey cannot “withhold trade”  without considerably harming its own economy and any concerns to that effect are misguided. Furthermore, while Turkey has so far been a key moderate ally in the region, it is moving more towards the Islamic side of its political spectrum (especially after the en bloc army resignations) and therefore Europe must be weary of assuming that Turkey will be a long term partner. Ideally, that trend will reverse and positive relations continue, however one must not blindly make plans without considering the political situation in the country as well as their historic aspirations. Turkish foreign policy in Cyprus smacks of imperialism and individual politicians in Turkey have on several occasions expressed views that it is Turkey’s right to interfere in the internal politics of countries which host Turkish minorities (presumably only smaller countries since I have not seen them work up the stones to aggravate Germany).

Simply put, it is time for the EU to reassess the way it does business with Turkey and neighbours generally. EU foreign policy is a mess, which is not helped by the ineptitude of its High Representative. In the Cyprus issue specifically, the best way to deal with the long term situation is to put serious effort into resolving the long term problems between Greek and Turkish Cyprus. However, this cannot be done before the EU begins to act like the Superpower it can be and starts applying real pressure on Turkey on this and other issues. It is high time policymakers in Brussels realised that Ankara is not Moscow-there is nothing to fear and until they realise this Turkey will walk all over them and Cyprus.

And here comes the rebuttal. My reasons for opposing Turkish membership of the EU are many-some are personal, some are general. Some emotional, some completely logical.

The first issue is practical and while it may attract accusations of prejudice I urge you to think and then jump to conclusions. The European Union is an agglomeration of European States-this much we all know. Over the centuries these states have beet at war with each other and have had (and arguably still have) bitter differences over certain issues. Yet, they come together almost seamlessly as one. How is this possible? The reason lies in the fact that as different we may be from each other, we are a lot more alike in Europe than we are different. We share joined histories, culture, religion, often habits, traditions and even many of our languages have a common root. Whether the reader would like to admit it or not, Turkey shares none of these with its European neighbours. Of what history it shares, it is almost exclusively in the form of conquest or attempts at conquest.  I will not allow this to boil down to an issue of religion (even though that invariably plays its part) as what I am seeking to establish is much further reaching than that.

What makes Europe one-a coherent body  is precisely this bond of familiarity which runs through the very fiber of European culture-a thing not shared by Turkey. To be certain, Turkey has a fascinating and rich culture of its own-but it is radically different to ours. There is nothing wrong with being different, however introducing a culture so radically different into the EU will undermine the EU’s common European voice and spirit. It would be no small introduction either-with Turkey’s population they would instantly become one of the strongest voices in Parliament, while their economic and military strength would give them similar influence in the Council. This would be like no other accession-much more similar to a hostile take over. Even though I do not feel Turkey bears any current hostility to the EU, their presence itself would corrode the EU, through no fault of their own. Considering expansion has to stop somewhere, why should the EU absorb a state which is much more similar to the Middle East than it is to Europe? Because it controls a sliver of land in Europe? A lot of important things are at stake, things not to be sacrificed at the altar of Political Correctness.

The second issue is Cyprus. A brief explanation of the facts is necessary for the uninitiated. Currently Turkey occupies a part of the sovereign nation of Cyprus, which is an EU member state-the are occupied is also known as the unrecognized “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”. That the TRNC is not a recognized state is a fact, the reason for its illegal status being the manner of its creation. To cut a long story short, due to international law agreements between Greece, The British Empire and Turkey at the time of Cypriot independence, Turkey had the right to bring troops into Cyprus to maintain the conditions for Turkish Cypriots agreed at the time of Independence. During an incident, Turkey exercised that right. Their troops are yet to leave. To be certain, they have no right to be there, nor do they have the right to create a state within the borders of the republic of Cyprus, which is why the TRNC remains illegal and unrecognised. This much is legal fact and beyond contestation, much though the Turkish side still insists on disputing it. Therefore, the present situation is that Turkey illegally remains in military occupation of an EU member state.  To even contemplate allowing Turkish membership while this remains the case defies all common sense and logic. In fact, was the EU leadership not so spineless, they should have applied their collective political and military power to evict Turkey from Cyprus a long time ago, if nothing else as a pre-requisite for starting accession talks.

The final reason for opposing Turkish membership is tied into the previous and it is also influenced by personal emotion, though that should not detract all its worth, since I feel it raises a valid point-the emotion borne purely of Bulgaria’s historic experience with Turkey which most EU member states could not claim to have had. Throughout it’s history, Turkey has yet to show that it deserves to join the European bloc on the grounds of both foreign policy and morality. Not to say that EU member states are not responsible for horrific atrocities-they are. However in Turkey’s case, their repeated aggression and atrocities have been targeted at Europe itself and it is disingenuous to disregard this while considering the issue of accession. It is a historical fact that Turkey (as the Ottoman Empire) has spent the larger part of its history either occupying or attempting to occupy European states.  In fact it would not be wholly unfair to say that, business arrangements with France and Britain notwithstanding, the vast majority of interaction Turkey has had with Europe prior to WWI has been through the sights of a rifle or at the tip of a sword. That current financial convenience dictates it would be better for Turkey to join, does not mean that all this should be ignored. People seldom change, countries even less so. Given the warlike nature of European states, this could perhaps have been overlooked (if one was so minded) had it not been accompanied by atrocities carried out against European member states-most notably Greece and Bulgaria.

To be fair, were we considering German accession afresh, I would have sounded a similar caution after WWII-however it is worth noting that while Turkish crimes have not reached the sheer insanity of Nazi Germany, their horrors have come steadily through the centuries, showing not a moment of madness but rather a steady attitude of contempt for decency when foreign nations are concerned. What is more of a worry is that this attitude persists today, evidenced by Turkish treatment of the Kurds, the Armenian genocide ( for which in fact, the word was invented), as well as their attitude to the Cyprus situation. It is my view that Turkey is yet to show that it has truly moved on from its dark past and until it does, it does not belong inside the EU.

I have chosen to separate this into parts for clarity, so do not despair reader-it might not end up being that long!

The issue of Turkey’s future/possible EU membership has been a matter of interest for me for a long time. Before I delve in it would be best to come clean-as I am Bulgarian I am by no means impartial here. I also have quite a few Greek Cypriot friends which doesn’t help either.  I should also admit that presently my mind is made up-instead of discussing pro’s and cons out loud I will seek to explain in writing my opposition to Turkish EU membership, not in the least so that I may refer others to this post instead of having to explain it every time 😉

First, I will note that I see the many and serious benefits to the EU of Turkey joining the block.  Firstly, Turkey has a vibrant and growing economy which will be beneficial to the EU, with a lot of the strong MS economies currently stalling. Also in the same vein, Turkey presents a huge market to EU companies and enterprise which could be further explored after Turkey’s potential accession.

Secondly Turkey is strong in many ways. Most obviously it controls one of the largest military forces on the planet which will boost the EU’s defense capabilities and its hand in “assertive negotiations”. With the Turkish military as part of the combined EU forces (I realise that the EU is not one single force, however the collective potential remains) the Union will be able to lay a much more serious claim to the title of Superpower. In uncertain times, this is important. Turkey is strong in other ways too. Anyone who has followed the antics of Turkey’s flamboyant (and often ridiculous) chief negotiator knows that Turkey is not afraid to assert itself and say exactly what it means-something much lacking from the MO of the EU’s Western Powers.

Admitting Turkey into the EU would also send a powerful diplomatic message and be a shrewd strategic move. By admitting a moderate and secular muslim state the EU would simultaneously negate accusations of racism and show that the west can engage constructively in partnership with the Muslim world.

All these are strong motives for allowing Turkey to join the EU. However as mentioned earlier, even so I am against this. In Part 2 I will explain why…