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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid