Gap of alienation between Turkey and Europe is growing

Kristian Brakel
Kristian Brakel

Following the adoption of the resolution calling for a freeze in talks on Turkey's membership in the EU by the European Parliament, the relations between Ankara and Brussels is on the verge of collapse once again. The statements of the high-ranking officials of certain EU countries (for example, the Foreign Minister of Austria Sebastian Kurz), were reflected in the specific resolution of the European legislature. Though the resolution is non-binding, but it is also a strong signal of the level of irritation of European politicians by Ankara's actions. The Turkish leadership's dismissive response, in turn, indicates the growing gap of alienation between Turkey and Europe.

As the head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Istanbul, Kristian Brakel, said in an interview with Inforadio, "it seems that the Turkish government has made the following calculation: we better be without the EU - as long as the European Union continues the economic relations with us.  And Ankara obviously believes that Brussels will continue its economic cooperation. Such Turkey's position has been observed for several years, and probably now they decided that such state of things can be fixed permanently".

"If the talks on Turkey's accession to the EU will be frozen, it will become a signal to international investors which Turkey attracted in the beginning of the 2000s due to the fact that it has chosen the path of the European integration. Of course, the position of the European Union will be important here: the will decide whether to keep the customs union with Turkey, abandoning the political integration, or the partner contacts will be frozen in the economic sphere as well," the expert noted.

Many Turkish citizens, especially Istanbul citizens, which the expert knows, view the distancing of Turkey from the EU highly negatively. At the same time, Kristian Brakel recognizes that these people do not represent the views of the majority in Turkey. The political scientist reminded that today only 30-35% of Turks are in favor of joining the EU.

One of the questions of the Europeans now is whether Turkey has an alternative to EU and how perspective is the policy of Ankara's rapprochement with Moscow and Beijing? "It is very difficult to tell how serious Erdogan is about Russia and the SCO as an alternative to the EU. If you think about it rationally, then the SCO is hardly equivalent alternative to the European Union, since more than 60% of direct investments in the Turkish economy are from Europe," the expert said. Brakel noted that Turkey is an equal partner in NATO, at the same time, in the case of close military cooperation with China and Russia Ankara will be only a junior partner. At the same time, according to the expert, we should not underestimate the internal political motives of Ankara's actions, and therefore, we cannot rule out irrational foreign policy decisions, aimed at meeting the "domestic demand" and strengthening the power of the Turkish President Erdogan.

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