by Andreas Korfiatis

Observing the latest news, one cannot overlook the escalation of the Turkish crisis that brought Turkey to an estrangement with the EU Member States and an economic and political collision with the USA.

Shall the crisis be examined as an accidental event, or as the outcome of the volatile situation that Turkey has been in for the last 40 years? 

Turkey is a major regional power in South East Europe, especially in the Balkans, and the Middle East thanks to many considerations. Firstly, Turkey’s geostrategic role in controlling the maritime boundaries of the Black Sea, the ground pathway that historically connects Asia to the Middle East and Europe, the silk road, and the exploitation of water resources thanks to the Headwaters of Euphrates and Tigris.

Another important consideration is Turkey’s GDP, which classifies as the 29th largest economy in the world. In addition to this, the influence of Turkey in the region inspires regional policies and campaigns such as those of  Muslim Greeks, Turkish Cypriots, and in others in the Western Balkans countries, and so on.

Due to these considerations, Turkey was always in the middle of a political dilemma about which side it has to choose. On one side there is the East, with which Turkey has close cultural, religious and even spiritual relations. On the other side, Turkey is lured by the constant economic and military facilitation provided by Western states.      

As a result, Turkey has always kept a neutral position or calling it a silent observer might be more fitting.

An undeniable example is the political drift of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from promoting Turkey’s EU candidacy in 2002 to shifting to a more populist approach.  This was done in the light of spasmodic attempts to disorientate both Turkish media and citizens from various internal issues, while disputing multiple international and bilateral agreements such as the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), at the same time.  

The most recent actions from Ankara are even more frightening about the stability of the region. Especially after the examination of the violation of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and the persistence of Turkey to reconsider the Treaty of Lausanne, which shaped the borders of modern Turkey.

Taking a look at Turkey’s approach to international affairs one can make several observations. First of all,  multiple violations of Greek air-space and international waters can be noted. Confirming further that they do not accept the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UNCLOS.
Other observations include that of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, by driving away oil and gas companies that are interested in the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources of Cyprus. It is important to keep in mind that this is an investment with many economic benefits for Cyprus and the EU in general. 

The growing trade co-operation with Eastern markets and Russia is another thing to keep an eye on. Another observation is the strong economic collision with the USA, and the well-known depreciation of the Turkish lira compared to the US dollar hitting an all-time low. All this in light of the temporary freeze at the bilateral weapon market, especially the delivery of the new fighter jet F-35 to Turkey.        

It can be said that Turkey is currently living in the following dilemma; it will either go through a democratic drift by the subversion of the current President and his external aid or the current risky internal and external policy will be continued with unknown consequences on the stability of the wider region, of the Eastern Mediterranean sea. 

The large-scale crisis occurring in Turkey, a potential member of EU, needs to be recognised by all parties.  There is serious concern about the economic alienation of Turkey and the constant disputes with the EU Members States, and also with other countries such as the USA.
Europe does not have the luxury of ignoring a crisis that can easily lead to the destabilisation of this specific region, along with the various dangers that lurked. 

The new political generation of the centre-right must defend Christian- democratic values such as pluralist democracy, freedom, solidarity & equality, and to aid the people who are fighting for these values in countries in need such as Turkey and Syria. 

In conclusion, hopefully, the crisis is averted via a diplomatic route, but history has proven that collateral damage is unavoidable. The Ancient Greeks believed that; “the human who shows hybris, experiences blindness of intellect and eventually that would provoke the anger of the gods, resulting in the punishment of the false act and the restoration of normality”.

20 September 2018
73
This text was published in Bullseye issue 73