Wilfried Fuhrmann: "Turkey's military power is indispensable for protecting European values"
Today, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has started a two-day official visit to Washington. Speaking with Donald Trump, he will seek to clarify the US position on the Syrian Kurds and on cooperation in resolving the Syrian crisis. Yesterday, members of the German parliament’s defense committee have been blocked from visiting the İncirlik Air Base. Angela Merkel said in this connection that the German troops stationed at the base can be transferred to another country. Professor Wilfried Fuhrmann from Potsdam told Vestnik Kavkaza about the prospects of Turkey's relations with the EU.
- Mr. Fuhrmann, do you agree with the opinion of European observers that the outcome of the referendum in Turkey means the end of democracy in the republic?
"It is unlikely that Erdogan intends to dismantle democracy in the country completely and create an Islamic Republic of Turkey, and thus approached this goal after winning a referendum, as some politicians, journalists and Islamists imagine.
- Meanwhile, the relations between Ankara and Berlin remain tense due to the arrest of German Turks on various charges, among which the special place is occupied by journalist of Die Welt Deniz Yücel.
- As for Germany's early release of the "German Turks" arrested in Turkey, the question arises: by what right? They are Turkish citizens, and, like many others arrested, they will be brought to justice on charges of terrorism and its propaganda - in other words, on charges of anti-state activities. Erdogan gave these issues to the courts, everything else would become positive discrimination.
- How likely is the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey? Can such a step become a "red line", after which the issue of Turkey's accession to the EU will be finally closed by the Europeans?
- The answer to the first question is probably. But the issue of Turkey's accession to the EU will not be closed after it. At any time, Erdogan will be able to put forward an argument about the need to finally start an equitable dialogue with Turkey, as it happens in relations with China or the United States. Otherwise, a dialogue will again be reduced to the policy of double standards of the West. The decisive factor is Turkey's direct membership in NATO. The world has repeatedly witnessed Turkey's very important role in this bloc (and not only during the deployment and dismantling of US missile systems during the Cuban crisis). In this respect, Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy should be understood in the context of Turkey's membership in NATO and in the "American club" of states.
At the same time, the importance and space for Ankara's political maneuver are growing because of the Turkish influence in the Caucasus and the Ukrainian conflict. In the future, the increasingly significant destabilization of the Muslim countries of the Central Asia and the Caucasus due to the activities of Islamists and ISIS (the group banned in Russia) will also be of central importance. Every month of existence of Guantanamo, similar US camps in Poland and other countries, and the ongoing cultural genocide from Afghanistan to Syria by Western countries create new Islamist activists (including in Europe and Asia) and provide new terrorist attacks. It is to be expected that the Islamists and the West fighting against them will bring weapons and war to these Asian countries. Only be Turkey, which, among other things, increases the production of tanks and submarines jointly with German firms (and, thus, Germany), can become a peculiar bastion of combating this threat.
- Do you mean that there is no alternative to the continuation of negotiations between Ankara and Brussels/Berlin?
- Power politics is always a policy of alternatives and pragmatic calculation. The importance of this strategic partnership outweighs Turkey's introduction of the death penalty and other aspects. Dependence on Turkey in the current global situation makes it possible to say that the termination of negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU seems less likely than Turkey's membership in the EU.
The likelihood of Turkey's entry into the EU will even increase in case of further development of the "two-speed Europe" concept - in this case, Ankara has the chances of joining the group of less rapidly integrating states. Until then, the parties need to remain in the dialogue. Ultimately, Turkey is unlikely to live by European values and guarantee them in the country, but any pragmatic politician, including Angela Merkel, will weigh all the circumstances and come to the conclusion that Turkey's military contribution alone is invaluable in protecting these very "European values"! These strategic aspects are more important than any "red lines".
Turkey's accession to the EU will be a big step towards the creation of a European Mediterranean and a unique lever to lock the Russian navy in the Black Sea and weaken the Russian military base in Syria. From the point of view of political pragmatism, the geopolitical weight of the EU and its survival are much more guaranteed with Turkey as an EU member than without it. Turkish President Erdogan also understands it and intentionally plays the card of Russia, the Eurasian Union or the "Islamic Union" in his poker game with the German Chancellor. Because these cards are capable of putting an end to the European concept of Merkel - a goal, which is incompatible with the goals of other players, such as Russia.