By Zhou Jiaxin
Global Times - 2016/12/4
Frustrated leaders decide nation may not have much in common with EU after all
Turkey's accession talks with the EU started on October 3,
2005, but the 11-year-long process of the membership bid has been
stalled since the European Parliament's vote on November 24 criticizing
the Turkish government's "disproportionate repressive measures" after a
failed military coup on July 15.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan downplayed the non-binding vote and said his country has not yet
given up on its objective to join the EU.
He also warned that
Ankara may rupture the migrant deal signed in March to help Europe ease
the flow of refugees from Syria and other Middle East countries.
Schmidt, former West German Chancellor, evaluated Turkey's EU
membership in his book Perspectives for the 2oth Century, listing
reasons why Turkey would not be taken to the EU including its cultural
origins, growing population, the instability it causes within Europe and
its economic performances.
After the founding father of the
Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atuturk, embarked upon Kemalism in
1920s, the career military officer created a modern and secular nation
Atuturk's resolve has been followed, and Turkey has held
the long-standing ambition to join the EU, thereby become part of
Turkey became an associate member of the European
Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, in 1963 and officially
recognized as a candidate for full membership in late 1999. "This
objective is not a purely economic ambition to facilitate more economic
activities or trade," said Tugrul Keskin, associate professor at the
Center for Turkish Studies of Shanghai University. "But it is rather
rooted in the history of the late Ottoman Empire and the pre-existing
social and cultural insecurity of the Turkish political and economic
Keskin sees the country's joining the EU as a symbol of modernity as the "deeper cultural objective."
Turkey people see little or no translations from Chinese, Persian,
Arabic and Urdu novels or books, but instead from German, French, and
The transcontinental country in Eurasia
bordering Greece, Syria and Iraq would be the only Islamic country in
the bloc if it received full membership.
the government's unremitting and protracted efforts to join the EU, the
Turkish people had different ideas, long before the post-truth Brexit.
Akfirat, chairman of Shanghai-based Turkish-Chinese Business Matching
Center, said that Turkish people are "against" EU membership, adding the
membership is an "American project" while Turkey, in the role of a
pawn, is already within the US "European Free Zone" plan. "It is
more or less the common understanding in Turkey that the majority of
Turkish people really don't believe that one day the state can become a
full member of the EU," Ilker Basbug, the 26th chief of the General
Staff of Turkey, told the Global Times, noting the EU hasn't treated
The former military head and nativist, once
was jailed by the country's US-backed Fethullah Gulen group who
allegedly organized and coordinated the failed coup, said that Turkey's
border security was "violated" by the presence of terrorist groups like
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraq, groups which have received safe
havens in Europe and support from the US.
At the same time,
Washington hasn't taken Turkey's "many proposals" regarding "terrorism
elimination" into consideration, said Busbug.
The number of the
refugees including Syrian, Iraqi and other nationalities have so far
been up to 3.1 million and the cost for them has been estimated more
than $12.8 billion since the beginning of the crisis, according to the
European Commission report in September.
refugee problem is not just a critical issue for Turkey itself but also
for major European countries like Germany, France and the UK whose
leaders have been vexed by the migrant inflow.
far-right trend in the West is also leaving little chance for the EU to
accept the membership of the Muslim-majority Turkey.
terrorism and unemployment have been growing in Europe in recent years,
as well as the xenophobic trend represented by Marine Le Pen, the
far-right French presidential candidate, said Qin Hui, professor at the
School of Humanities of Tsinghua University, noting the stigmatized
Muslim community are deemed threats to Europe.
Keskin argued that
the European attitudes would, in return, affect Europe's economy,
saying that Europe needs Turkey to help resolve the problems of the
Turkey 's location creates an convenient
crossroads for 1.5 billion customers in Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East
and North Africa, with a combined GDP of $23 trillion, said Akfirat.
"If Turkey is not accepted into the EU, it will slide into the Asian bloc," Akfirat added.
SCO an alternative?
After the EU froze the accession talks, Erdogan said the government will continue by evaluating other "alternatives."
referred to saying "goodbye" to the EU early in 2013 and said that the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) seeking regional security in
Central Asia is "better and much more powerful," noting that Turkey has
more "common values" with the SCO member states including China, Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
similar tones late last month and China's Foreign Ministry welcomed the
idea from Turkey, the current dialogue partner who will chair the SCO
Energy Club in 2017, as the first non-member country to do so.
Minister Binali Yildirim, however, clarified that the SCO was not an
alternative to Ankara's EU ambition given that he, Erdogan and their AK
Party represent the more Eastern perspective of Turkish culture.
membership depends on good relations with NATO and Turkey is using the
SCO as a bargaining chip with NATO," Keskin explained.
Akfirat believes that Turkey should continue Ataturk's resolve by uniting with rising Asia.
is an indispensable country for China's strategic Belt and Road
initiative, Akfirat continued, pointing out the key cooperation between
Turkey and China includes infrastructure development.
Still, sectarian tension incurred by Uyghur issue could cast a pall over Ankara-Beijing relations, said Keskin.