News / Europe

Erdogan Hints at Alternative Federation for Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
Dorian Jones
Several European Union countries recently reiterated their opposition to Ankara’s efforts to join the European Union, once again bringing its membership bid to a virtual halt. Then, last Friday in a TV interview, Prime Minister Erdoğan dropped what one commentary described as a diplomatic bomb.
 
Explaining that if Turkey's EU accession can't gain traction in the near future, the prime minister said he and his roughly 75-million citizens could start looking elsewhere.
 
“The Shanghai Five is better and more powerful than the EU and we have common values with them,” he said, referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a mutual-security and trade organization that groups Russia, China and Tajikistan with the Turkic nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
 
Last year, the SCO upgraded its relationship with Turkey, naming it a dialogue partner.
 
Erdoğan's apparent tilt toward full SCO membership was criticized by Turkey's main opposition, which said Shanghai members have little interest in human rights and democracy.
 
But Erdoğan's comments coincided with a Turkish opinion survey which found only a third of Turkey's citizens still support Ankara's EU bid – a record low and sharp downturn from a one-time 70 percent approval rating.
 
According to Sinan Ulgen, head of Edam, an Istanbul-based research group that conducted the polling, despite the controversial nature of the prime minister's comments, he believes it will play well with the public.
 
"It's first time we have heard such a message from Turkey’s prime minister," said Ulgen. "But he is also well aware that with such rhetoric he is likely not to get a negative reaction in Turkish public opinion, given that more people now in Turkey support the option of discontinuing membership negotiations with the EU."
 
But as the Shanghai group is a security organization, analysts point out that any formalization of Turkish membership could compromise its established NATO standing, a point raised by U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland on Monday.
 
"Obviously it would be interesting, given the fact that Turkey is also a NATO member, so we have to see how that goes," Nuland told reporters.
 
But a Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there is no contradiction and that his country is following a multi-layered approach.
 
Indeed, some Turkish commentators see the prime minister’s statement as more of a diplomatic ploy than a change in strategy, according to diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz of the Turkish daily Taraf.
 
"There is a school of thought which says that he is doing this in order to put pressure on the EU," said Idiz. "'Look we don’t need you, you are going down, we are coming up and actually we have alternatives.' But a fundamental change in tack for Turkey would upset significant balances in this country and would be detrimental in the long run to the economy, so I don’t think it’s likely."
 
This year is expected to see both Brussels and Ankara re-energize the membership process. Erdoğan is due to visit EU countries next month, while both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are expected to visit Turkey.
 
Analysts point out that any serious progress in Ankara’s EU membership bid could easily reverse the current public antipathy towards that bid. However there is a newfound self-confidence in Turkey, built on its fast-growing economy, which means the country’s political leadership is aware that viable alternatives to EU membership exist.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs