Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
2005-04-02 10:48:27

Turkey's Search for a Balance Between EU and US Turns into a Pincer

Erhan Basyurt

EU-US Balance Turns into a Pincer
By Erhan Basyurt

Turkey's search for a balance in international relations between the
European Union (EU) and the US, is gradually turning into a pincer. Ankara
had relied mostly on the EU at the start of membership negotiations,
particularly to ensure a balance as a result of the pressures that emerged
from the Israeli-US line, and also in order to breathe freely, but a series
of incidents this time put Turkey under a two-sided pressure.

Firstly, the EU gave Turkey a date but gave it no hope on December 17. A
door was opened to full membership negotiations, however, whether or not
this would result in full membership was not guaranteed. On the contrary,
France decided to hold a referendum, with Turkey, undoubtedly, as the main
target. That is to say, even if Turkey completes negotiations and the
Council of Europe approves its membership, for this to go into effect, it
will require approval from the anti-Turkey French people.

Secondly, several EU countries that were against the US at the beginning of
the Iraq war, raised the "white flag" with the re-election of US President
George W. Bush. The EU showed that it is not an alternative power to the US.
The US-EU balance is not suitable for setting the balance between great
powers, like the rivalry between Great Britain and Germany before World War
I and the US and the Soviet Union after World War II.

Hence, against the US, Turkey has never pursued a policy that centers around
its national interests, relying on EU protection. On the contrary, Turkey's
"excessive desire" for EU membership is perceived by Brussels as an
opportunity "to obtain concessions on the Cyprus issue."

The EU, which admitted Greek Cyprus, that carried out massacres in Cyprus,
as a full member, now aims at ridding itself of the mistake it made, by also
pushing Turkey to endorse this mistake. The Greek Cypriots, who caused the
division of the island, are at the same time, the side which said "no" to
the United Nations (UN) peace initiative, however, the EU continues to
reward the Greek Cypriots and punish the Turkish Cypriots, who are being
unjustly treated. The embargo imposed on the Turkish side persists. Turkey
is forced to buy duty-free Greek Cypriot goods. Signing a supplementary
protocol, that will mean a de facto recognition of the Greek Cypriot side,
is being demanded as a precondition.

The US approach to Turkey also has not been different since the Iraq war
process. The US does not even deem it necessary to utter a word with regards
to the effects of the developments on Turkey's interests. Open your southern
border, don't intervene in Northern Iraq, support our policies on Syria and
Iran, approve broader US access to the Incirlik Air Base!

Because the US knows the "government with no political power," is Turkey's
soft belly, it exerts pressure on the government. With a manipulated media
campaign, it pushes the government into the corner. It also forces Turkey to
toe the US line through anti-Americanism allegations. It is even trying to
use passage of the so-called Armenian "genocide" resolution in Congress as a

The US is trying to pressure over Turkey the March 1 deployment motion,
however, Turkey compensated for the first decision by approving a second
motion that envisaged sending troops to Iraq. If the US had not become a
"slave" to the Kurds and Turkish troops had been alllowed to operate in
Iraq, current problems, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kerkuk
(Kirkuk), the Turkmen and the Kurds, to a great extent, would not have been
experienced. If there are no Turkish troops in Iraq today, it is not
Ankara's fault but that of the US.

However, recent pressures by Washington, appear aimed at making Turkey take
a step back on the Incirlik issue. As a matter of fact, the neo-Cons, who
hold influential positions in the Bush administration, had foreseen the
overthrow of Saddam, expansion of the Incirlik base, and if possible,
recommendation of another base in Anatolia, in a report entitled, "Project
for the New American Century," they prepared before the occupation of Iraq.
The Incirlik demand is part of a project that was planned a long time ago.

Just as the EU is seeking concessions on the Cyprus issue, the US is also
seeking concessions on issues such as the Incirlik base and the likes. It is
not possible for Turkey to break out of these two pincers with a balanced
policy among the powers, if it does not make concessions. Turkey should
revise its foreign policy preferences and re-shape them in line with the
present circumstances. Because a balanced policy develops imbalance.

Source: Zaman, 01 April 2005

2005-04-02 10:48:27