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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More