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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid