Turkey – a reliable (regional) partner in global conflicts?

Without any doubt, Turkey is one of the most important neighbors for the EU, and an important partner for China, Russia (despite current hostilities) and the U.S. (as a NATO member). In addition, Turkey is a front state – neighboring to Syria, and being in violent disputes with Kurdish groups. Turkey also is a gatekeeper for the current flows of migrants to the north, especially from Saria’s civil war.
At the same time, Turkey’s ambitious president Erdogan turns out to be increasingly seduced by the prospect of accumulating power, formally and in reality. Especially for journalists, academics and people in the legal system the times are getting harder. If the current clear trend towards more authoritarianism will continue, is hard to predict.
This week’s question is: How do Turkey’s neighbors and partners address this increasing authoritarian inclination of the ruling AKP party, and how far should the EU move toward cooperation on the refugee issue without losing credibility? Is a visa-free regime with Turkey the right avenues to follow?

– Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers

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Turkey - a reliable (regional) partner in global conflicts?
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Turkey - a reliable (regional) partner in global conflicts?
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Turkey, with the newly installed visa-free-regime, once again proved itself to be an important strategic partner for Europe in the current "migrant crisis". However Erdogan's help, a president who is increasingly imposing an authoritarian rule on his country, might come with the prize of one of the EU's fundamental principles: Liberal democracy. How will Europe react to increasing cuts on freedom of the press or the violent disputes with Kurdish groups, while trying to find a solution for refugee's from North Africa coming to Europe through one of Syria's neighboring states.
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  1. Irina Busygina 1 year ago

    I have two general observations concerning the ‘Turkey question’. The first one relates to Turkish internal political development. For me the problem is not that much that Turkey becomes less democratic, but that it becomes even less liberal (as we know Turkey belongs to the group of the most illiberal democracies in the world). Under internal and external pressures Turkish state is loosing its governability, so the president Erdogan tries to save the state by accumulating authority in his hands. However, trying to solve one problem, he creates another: Erdogan’s political regime is loosing legitimacy due to its progressively illiberal character. The second observation concerns the EU approach towards Turkey. I’d say that here too many cards are in play, on other words, there are too many issues that shape Turkey-EU relations and that constrain EU policy towards Turkey. There are no way of reaching two goals at the same time: influencing Turkey to respect liberal values, and…

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  2. Alexei Voskressenski 1 year ago

    Though in the long run authoritarianism is less competitive than a democratic governance, an ability of authoritarianism to answer new challenges was underestimated. Moreover, in diffucult times authoritarianism is needed to move in a right direction to be able to considerably reduce authoritarianism in the future. However, many nations started to consider authoritarianism as the only tool to restore a shaken order. Turkey has even more excuses as it is a front state neighboring Syria. In the past after forceful restructuring and restoring order some unconsolidated democracies, hybrid or even authoritarian regimes were able to move to a new stage of their political development and even to construct a comprehensive democracy. Examples are South Korea and Taiwan. Let’s see in what direction Turkey will further move. A rightful answer to a challenge of finding a national way of maintaining order with decreasing (and not increasing) authoritarianism is a lighmus test for many strong…

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  3. Justas Paleckis 1 year ago

    Without any doubt, Turkey is one of the most important neighbors for the EU, and an important partner for China, Russia (despite current hostilities) and the U.S. (as a NATO member). In addition, Turkey is a front state – neighboring to Syria, and being in violent disputes with Kurdish groups. Turkey also is a gatekeeper for the current flows of migrants to the north, especially from Saria’s civil war.
    At the same time, Turkey’s ambitious president Erdogan turns out to be increasingly seduced by the prospect of accumulating power, formally and in reality. Especially for  journalists, academics and people in the legal system the times are getting harder. If the current clear trend towards more authoritarianism will continue, is hard to predict.
    This week’s question is: How do Turkey’s neighbors and partners address this increasing authoritarian inclination of the ruling AKP party, and how far should the EU move toward cooperation on the refugee issue without losing credibility?…

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  4. Dmitri Mitin 1 year ago

    The visa-free regime with Turkey appears to be an ad hoc response, neither essential for solving the refugee problem, nor indicative of a substantive convergence in problem assessment and policy preferences. There is nothing novel about separation on key policy issues between the EU and Turkey. The rift may be exacerbated by the evolution of Turkey under AKP rule, but it needs to be viewed in the broader context of the post-Soviet shifts in power, EU expansion, invasion of Iraq, Arab revolutions, and Syria’s collapse, which have been pushing the two sides apart. Increasingly Turkey is becoming reminiscent of other problematic and, periodically, subversive allies like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The EU is stuck in a relationship where geopolitical expedience, rather than harmony of interest, is driving compromises. A sense of mutual dependence is likely to continue coexisting with mistrust and high irritability.

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5 Comments

  1. worldklaus 1 year ago

    Since the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, everyone should know the real face of Mr. Erdogan. The brutality of the local policy force was unbearable, considering that a group of architects triggered these events, as they opposed the construction of another shopping mall on the grounds of Gezi Park. Since that time numerous journalists and activists has been incarcerated and threatened. Can Gundal and Erdem Gul, internationally well respected journalists of the Cumhurriyet Newspaper, were convicted this month to long prison sentences, because they published information, which proofs that the Turkish military did support ISIS with weapons. This week the Turkish Parliament voted for lifting the immunity of its members, which in general is not a bad thing as no one should be standing over the law. But 50 of the 59 pro Kurdish HDP member are under investigation. I predict that in the next days the majority of these legally elected HDP parliament members will be removed from the politic…

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  2. worldklaus 1 year ago

    …….making process. For the vacant seats, new election will be hold, and Erdogan’s AKAP party has good chances to win enough of the seats in order to finally achieve 2/3 majority in parliament, which would allow him to change the constitution at will. Turkey is moving in the wrong direction for a long time, the EU has to stop this now, otherwise Erdogan will transform Turkey into a dictatorship, we are half way there already. I am still supporting the free visa agreement for Turkish nationals, The EU should target Erdogan and not its citizen,

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  3. Terence 1 year ago

    With the resignation of Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu, the prospects for a EU-Turkey deal do not look too good. President Erdogan has openly, and somewhat defiantly, stated that the migrant deal with collapse if Turks do not gain visa-free access to the EU. At the same time, the EU has linked the visa issue to Turkey’s broad anti-terrorism laws along with 72 other conditions – seemingly placing the deal on rocky footing considering the points already made on Turkey’s illiberal shift and internal divisions.

    Within NATO, Turkey as most Allies, attempts to strike a balance between its national interests and Alliance solidarity. At the same time, Turkey has demonstrated the willingness to repeatedly block consensus within the Alliance by linking NATO priorities to its national interests – for instance, stifling more concrete cooperation with the EU due to Cyprus’ membership there.

    Despite these issues, the role Turkey plays is key in the Alliance and also in addressing the migrant crisis. As such, the EU and NATO member states have to work with the Turkey they have, not the Turkey they wish they had.

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  4. worldklaus 1 year ago

    In the last decade Turkey managed to alienate many of its neighboring countries, the provocation of Russia being the last act of an erratic and increasingly dangerous swift in Turkey’s foreign policy. Turkey called its former foreign policy strategy the “the zero problem approach”, apparently the foreign policy has changed significantly sine than. The NATO membership is the last foreign policy ace, Erdogan has left, without NATO Turkey would be forced to come to mutual agreements with its neighbors. It would be difficult to find an alternative for the US airbase in Incirli, but this would be still better than further supporting a more and more unreliable and unpredictable regime. As to the refugee crisis, the EU has to find another solution, Turkey will continue to use this as bargaining chip. EU internal solutions will be complex and certainly very costly, but any of those alternatives is better than to be at the mercy of Mr. Erdogan. My point is: the EU has alternatives, admitting they may be costly and difficult, but Turkey without EU and NATO as allies will face much greater problems. Turkey is already internationally very isolated, and without NATO it will lose entirely its influence as a regional power.

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  5. Maryam Mokhtarpour 2 months ago

    In my view, the neighbors and the foreign partners of Turkey should look and decide on this matter with realistic approach. They cannot have both their desired democratic changes and maintaining good relations with turkey. If EU and the other countries want to keep relations with Turkey in high quality first of all they have to respect its sovereignty. In first phase the issue of refugees and managing the regional conflict in MENA region is more important than intervening in Turkey’s domestic affairs. The regional coalition is necessary to change the current condition of middle east and most specifically Syria.

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