Sunday, 1 November 2009

Turkey's Foreign Policy Re-Alignment

Recent weeks have made dramatically clear just how much Turkey's foreign policy posture has been re-aligned under the Islamist AKP. First, Turkey uninvited Israel from participating in the "Anatolian Eagle" military exercise, marking a clear departure from the country's long-standing pro-Israel stance in foreign affairs. Second, Turkey has recently been cosying up to Syria and Iran. Erdogan even called Ahmadinejad "a friend".

Does any of this even register with the European potentates who are still trying to push forward Turkey's EU candidacy in the face of common sense, and in the face of their own people's overwhelming opposition to it? Turkey is reverting to type, becoming what it always was: a Middle-Eastern Muslim nation. Decades of Ataturk propaganda, authoritarian government and military intervention (both real and threatened) succeeded in suppressing overt expressions of Turkey's true nature for some time, but reality eventually asserts itself.

Paradoxically, the EU accession process is facilitating the triumph of Islamism in Turkey. The EU is insisting on freedom of worship and on civilian control of the military as conditions of entry. This only makes things easier for the Islamists. The military knows that intervention would bring Turkey's EU accession process to an end and therefore is reluctant to act. But even some pro-Turkey European politicians are saying that Turkey's accession process might take decades. If the military is paralysed for decades, the Islamists will entrench themselves in power and eliminate the power of the military as an independent actor. The best way the EU can safeguard secularism in Turkey is to reject Turkey's EU application quickly and decisively.

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