jump to navigation

Turkey Turns Its Back on the E.U. 4 avril 2014

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
Tags: ,

International New York Times (USA) Friday, April 4, 2014, p. 2

By Alan Cowell, London

At the height of the Cold War, Turkey’s great landmass cemented its place in the Western alliance, its huge conscript army deployed across the sweeping expanse of Anatolia to safeguard NATO’s southeastern flank.

Even now, with crisis just across the Black Sea in Crimea and Ukraine, that same geography offers Western strategists an anchor in a troubled region stretching from the borders of Iran, Syria and Iraq to the far-flung outposts of the European Union.

A generation ago, it was Ankara’s assumption that its central role in the region’s geopolitics would translate into acceptance as a member of the prosperous European Union, now numbering 28 countries.

But that assumption has frayed. After months of increasingly authoritarian rule by an embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the portals of the club seem more than ever to be closing on Turkey. And paradoxically, Turkey’s most recent elections may deepen its estrangement, raising questions not only about European readiness to embrace Turkey but also about Mr. Erdogan’s interest in pursuing it.

« It is becoming clear that Erdogan’s Turkey does not belong to Europe, » a prominent German politician, Andreas Scheuer, said after the Turkish leader accepted his party’s victory in the municipal ballot on Sunday not just as a personal vindication but a mandate for what an opponent called a « witch hunt » against his adversaries. « A country in which the government threatens its critics and tramples democratic values cannot belong to Europe, » Mr. Scheuer said.

« What happens next will worry many Turks as they hear Erdogan vowing to get even with his critics and opponents, » the columnist Simon Tisdall said in The Guardian. « That Turkey is now a deeply divided nation is only too clear. That Erdogan’s future actions may serve to deepen those divisions is the great fear. »

Since the creation of the modern state in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey has been caught in the overlapping dilemmas thrown into sharp relief by its geography. While it straddles Europe and Asia, only a fraction of its soil lies west of the Bosporus that divides the two continents. For all the boutiques and businesses of Istanbul that look west to Frankfurt and Milan, the country’s distant east surveys a much rougher neighborhood.

The effort to accede to the European Union — haltingly underway since 2005 — pulls at one set of reflexes, while Mr. Erdogan’s style tugs at another. Last year, he deployed the police against protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. In December a major corruption scandal broke over his aides and his family. Just in recent weeks, his government has moved to block Twitter and YouTube — depicted as his enemies’ tools in a campaign to besmirch him with faked evidence of malfeasance.

But the elections on Sunday showed something else. While Western-looking, secular, middle-class Turks are frequently hostile to him, Mr. Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party still command the political bedrock among the working class and in the countryside where Islam — Turkey’s dominant faith — is strong.

The question of identity is not limited to Turkey. Divided among themselves over the very idea of Turkish membership of their largely Christian club, the Europeans find themselves caught between the Western values they demand of Turkish society and the realpolitik of a volatile region.

« We need Turkey as an important ally, » said a German government foreign policy specialist, « but we can’t observe with indifference developments in the country. »

In an interview before the election, Fadi Hakura, a specialist in Turkish affairs at London’s Chatham House policy research body, said there seemed to be little appetite in Turkey for the kind of reforms the European Union is demanding to create a more liberal, transparent and inclusive society. « The main concern now, » he said, « seems to be to consolidate power, not promote reform. »

Mr. Erdogan’s uncompromising tone since the vote, Mr. Hakura said later, had merely strengthened that conviction.


No comments yet — be the first.

Votre commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Google. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :