Tag Archives: Turkey

Diplomatic crisis – How to deal with Turkey?

 

Turkey seems to be on a rampage.

An aggressive rhetoric, diplomatic brinkmanship, and threats not only against Europe have made it ever more clear that this country under this leadership cannot become an EU member, and it is putting itself in an outsider role in Nato as well.

There is a problematic referendum calling for constitutional changes. While in normal times, this would not necessarily lead to an international crisis, Turkey presently plays an important role in the regional context, especially in the Syrian crisis, and in moderating flows of refugees.

So what can and should be done? Should Turkey’s neighbors and partners just leave it alone? Or rather, should they attempt to counter its policies?

– Klaus Segbers

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How to deal with autocracies?

Authoritarian regimes with populist inclinations are becoming more viable. The dominant debate about a spreading democratization, so popular after the ‘Charter of Paris for a New Europe’ was adopted in 1990, is at least partly being replaced by the discussion of re-autocratization. Everyone following the news knows something about the current usual suspects: Russia, China, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and, maybe, even the U.S. after the November elections.

Previously, there was a clear policy in many Western countries to go into ‘difficult’ societies and find partners in fields like education, law, finances, institution building, and civil society in general. Once the economies would take off, middle classes would emerge, and, so went the assumption, participation would spread, and democracy surely would blossom.

Now, we have more doubts than certainties regarding this classical ‘modernization’ thesis. Does it really make sense to keep trying and engage those countries in joint activities, projects and programs, summer schools, FDI with dubious property rights, support for Rule of Law training programs that officially are not welcome or even weakened, etc., including putting partners potentially at risk? Or should we be more realistic (if that’s what it is), pack up and leave for good?

– Prof. Klaus Segbers

 

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Can Coups Ever Be Acceptable?

World history couldn’t be written, or understood, without the history of coups (real and attempted ones). So last weekend’s events in Turkey fit into a pattern. 25 years before, in the hot summer of 1991, another attempted coup in Moscow was the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire.

It always is difficult to properly assess these extra-constitutional, mostly (but not necessarily) violent moves. The clove revolution in 1974 in Portugal certainly brought a harsh and unpleasant dictatorial regime to an end. It may have been illegal, but was it illegitimate? The attempted coup against Hitler by a group of Wehrmacht officers belongs into the same category. And what about the events on the Tiananmen Square on June 4th, 1989? In Turkey, the officers trying this not quite professional attempt claimed to serve democracy and human rights, but they opened the doors for a much more autocratic regime than before (which may have materialized anyways).

So this reminds us that history is often written by the victors. But, in addition, many events, like coups, are quite ambivalent. Do we have any clear criteria for sorting out coups, into acceptable ones and clearly bad ones?

– Prof. Klaus Segbers

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Syria: A transnational free-for-all

One of the messiest spots in global politics is Syria. No one seems to know what to do, or what not to do, to stop the civil war with all its international and transnational spillover.

There are different fault-lines converging, and addressing just one of them doesn’t do the job. First, relatively peaceful and secular Syria has been turned into a sectarian fighting place. Increasingly, people identify themselves culturally. Second, and related, this is a space where Shia (the Alawites) and Sunni (IS and other militias) groups clash violently.

Third, this trend is exacerbated by the meddling of two competing regional regimes – Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Fourth, all but one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council are militarily involved. Fifth, some neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey) may soon not be able to absorb the pressure of the fighting next door as well as the millions of refugees that have already arrived, or are on their way to Europe.

One of the core problems is that almost all of the external actors involved (except the Islamic State) are not so sure how decisively they want to be engaged. There is neither decisive intervention, nor clear non-intervention, but, mostly, meddling.

Do you see any option for progress, however small?

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Is it time to forget about a Turkish perspective for merging Islam and democratisation? Is the EU itself partly to blame by dragging on ascension negotiations?

Over decades, a membership of Turkey in the EU has been debated and negotiated. Once again, the progress of negotiation seems to have stalled. There always were good reasons for finally integrating Turkey: a Muslim country as an EU-member state could demonstrate that the EU is not a “Club of Christians”. Also, Turkey’s influence in regional conflicts is substantial.

But the recent moves by the Erdogan government apparently put all hope for an EU-Turkish rapprochement to rest: the violent measures against the demonstrators around Gezi Park in 2013, voluntary shifting of hundreds of procurators and police officers, rude language from Prime Minister Erdogan himself, indicators of notorious corruption even in higher echelons of the state apparatus, increasing measures against social networks in Turkey, and the negligent reactions to the victims of the mining tragedy in Soma all show that Turkey may be sliding backwards.

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No Europe A La Carte: The EU needs Turkey far less than Turkey needs the EU

BY THEODOROS TSAKIRIS

The Turkish experiment in democratization has always been a complicated process. Erdogan, like Menderes in the 1950s, consolidated his power basis in contradiction to the secular kemalist guardians who always elevated the country’s Armed Forces as the true regulators of the Republic.

The big difference between Erdogan and Menderes is that Erdogan used the EU bid as a means of neutralizing the Military’s interventionism. The Generals knew and know that a potential coup d’etat would effectively terminate their country’s bid for EU accession.

As Erdogan consolidated his power and presided over an era of unprecedented economic growth he started to behave with the same level of arrogance that Menderes behaved towards the end of his ten-year term.

Erdogan will only become more aggressive and intractable in the domestic arena where his efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue ended in disarray, but in the absence of a credible alternative he is more likely to continue to consolidate his position and conquer the country’s Presidency.

In the foreign policy area, and Ankara’s relations with Athens and Nicosia, Turkish policies have remained as revisionist and uncompromising as ever. With regards to the Middle East where Ankara is perceived to play a major and positive role by some Europeans, Turkish Foreign Policy has lost almost all influence with the existing governments. Mr. Davutoglou’s “Zero” Problems Policy has managed to isolate Turkey from its former allies.

Turkey is no longer considered as a valuable ally or an honest broker by any of its Middle Eastern neighbors with the exception of the Islamic Brotherhood parties that are on the run everywhere in the region except the Hammas and Islamic Jihad Stronghold of Gaza.

Turkey’s Cold War with Israel continues and its relations with Iran have lost their special character ever since Turkey was forced to -by and large- implement the US/EU oil boycott against Tehran that is crippling the Iranian economy.

Europe has no responsibility for Mr. Erdogan’s excesses. The Acquis Communautaires are not negotiable because they constitute the least common denominator of the European consensus and the Spirit of the Acquis is the very epitome of Europe’s Political Civilization which Erdogan continuously violates.

Turkey always attempted to utilize its geostrategic location and the false pretense of hegemonic influence in the Middle East and the Caucasus to persuade Europeans that it should be exempted from the rules everyone else followed.

There is no Europe a la carte. You need to eat all the menu even if it included spinach whether you like it or not.

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