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September 3, 2010

Turkey's process of Europeanization and the prospects for its full membership in the European Union

In his final web-log as the Alworth Institute's International Fellow, Dr. Oktay Tanrisever (Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey) discusses Turkey's process of Europeanization, which goes back to the modernizing reforms of Ottoman Turkey at the beginning of the 19th century, and seems to be one of the most challenging Europeanization processes for the European Union. What are the features of Turkey's Europeanization process and what are its prospects for full EU membership?

There are several characteristics of Turkey's very complex process of Europeanization. To start with, the Europeanness of Turkey was confirmed by the European states a very long time ago. In fact, it was the Crimean War that integrated Ottoman Turkey into the European state-system as two European great powers, Britain and France, allied themselves with Turkey against another European great power, Russia, for the first time. Turkey's process of Europeanization gained a new momentum with the formation of modern Turkey in 1923. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is the national leader of modern Turkey, Ankara oriented itself firmly towards Europe and successfully implemented wide-ranging, modernizing reforms in political, economic and socio-cultural aspects of social life. These changes consolidated the place of Turkey in the European state-system just before the outbreak of the World War II.

Secondly, the Europeanization process of Turkey took a new turn in the post- World War II era as the regional integration processes in Europe led by NATO, the Council of Europe and the European Economic Community (EEC- forerunner of the EU) emerged as three key pillars of Turkey's Europeanization in the security, political and economic spheres respectively. After joining NATO and the Council of Europe as a full member, Turkey signed the Ankara Agreement for full membership with the EEC in 1963. However, after the end of the Cold War, the EEC transformed itself into the EU in 1992 and started EU membership negotiations with the former Warsaw Pact countries, but not with its NATO ally, Turkey (with which only a Customs Union was established in 1996). This led Turkey to freeze its relations with the EU in 1997. After intense discussions among the EU members and lobbying by the United States in favor of Turkey, the EU revised its policy towards Turkey and declared it a candidate country for full EU membership in the 1999 Helsinki Summit. Finally, the EU confirmed that Turkey had fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria by adopting new civil and penal codes as well as implementing a number of human rights reforms in December 2004.

Thirdly, Turkey has made significant progress in actual accession negotiations with the EU. These negotiations formally started with the adoption of the Negotiation Framework by the Council of the European Union in October 2005. By early 2010, Turkey was able to open negotiations on the following 12 out of the 35 chapters since June 2006: Science and Research; Enterprise and Industrial Policy; Statistics; Financial Control; Trans-European Networks; Consumer and Health Protection; Company Law; Intellectual Property Rights; Information Society and Media; Free Movement of Capital; Taxation; and Environment. Turkey is very likely to open negotiations on the following four chapters when it meets the specific benchmarks as demanded by Brussels: Public Procurement (3 benchmarks); Competition Policy (6 benchmarks); Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary (6 benchmarks); and Social Policy and Employment (2 benchmarks).

Fourthly, despite Turkey's considerable progress in the negotiations, it is not certain yet that Turkey could negotiate all of the 35 chapters. The EU Council already froze the opening of eight chapters over Turkey's rejection to open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus in 2006. These chapters include: Free Movement of Goods; Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services; Financial Services; Agriculture and Rural Development; Fisheries; Transport Policy; Customs Union and External Relations. The Greek Cypriots also blocked six more chapters, namely; Education and Culture; Foreign Security and Defense Policy; Judiciary and Fundamental Rights; Justice, Freedom and Security; Energy and Freedom of Movement for Workers (which was also blocked by Germany and Austria). Another obstruction came from France in June 2007 as Paris blocked the expected opening of the Chapter on Work towards the European Monetary Union in addition to the following five Chapters due to their 'direct bearing on full membership': Agriculture and Rural Development (already suspended by the EU Council); Economic and Monetary Policy; Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments; Financial and Budgetary Provisions and Institutions.

Lastly, Turkey's prospects for full EU membership have suffered a huge blow as, at present, France, Germany and Austria offer only a special status for Turkey within the EU rather than full EU membership. Nevertheless, a special status is very unlikely to meet expectations of Turkey's elites as they already enjoy a special status with its customs union with the EU. Under these circumstances, Turkey's eventual success in the negotiations for full EU membership depends mainly on its capacity to solve its structural economic development problems as this could change the image of Turkey in Europe positively: a change of image from a burden for the EU into an asset for the EU. It seems that economic costs and benefits of Turkey's EU membership could be decisive in the final decisions of France and Germany, the most influential members of the EU that pay for the costs of EU enlargement. Another important challenge for Turkey is that the bilateral political differences of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots with Greece and the Greek Cypriots need to be settled with a balanced approach by the key European powers. Currently, the EU decision to integrate the Republic of Cyprus that - at present - represents only the Greek Cypriots before a sustainable settlement complicates Turkey's prospects for full membership considerably. This is quite ironic since it was not the Turkish Cypriots, but the Greek Cypriots who rejected the EU-backed UN plan in April 2004. Last but not least, the continuity of the support from the United States and Britain is essential for keeping Turkey's hopes for eventual full EU membership alive.

To conclude, Turkey has significant reasons to push for eventual full EU membership despite some difficulties ahead. Turkey's full EU membership is likely to serve as confirmation for the success of its Europeanization strategy, which carries in itself a positive vision not only for Turkey, but, also for both the EU and the Western world.

Turkey as an energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe

The 2010 Alworth Institute International Visiting Fellow, Dr. Oktay Tanrisever (Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey) writes - Energy security has been one of the top priorities of Turkey's foreign policy since the oil crisis in 1973 affected Turkey's foreign economic relations very negatively. Turkey is highly dependent on external energy supplies to meet its domestic demand. Moreover, its energy imports constitute the main reason for its chronic balance of payments deficit. Energy security has also become a strategic issue for both the European Union and NATO with the development of common EU and NATO positions on energy security among member states since the mid-2000's. Both EU and NATO positions on energy security necessitate less dependence on the Middle Eastern and the Russian-controlled sources, as political instability in these regions have threatened European and Transatlantic energy security. This has also increased the importance of the energy reserves in the Caspian Sea for both Turkey and its NATO and European allies. What is Turkey's energy policy, and how does it affect Turkey's strategy and relationships with Europe?

Turkey's energy strategy has been based on a number of principles: Firstly, Turkey has been formulating its energy strategy in a way that could cement its Transatlantic relations with NATO allies and enhance its chances for joining the European Union as a full member. This strategy is based on the premise that Turkey and the EU's principles of energy security are almost identical as both Turkey and the members of the EU-especially the East European countries- depend heavily on natural gas supplies from Russia, which has been seeking to use energy as a weapon in its foreign policy since Vladimir Putin's rise to presidency at the very end of 1999. Therefore, the EU seeks to have access to more reliable energy sources or to diversify its energy supplies.

Secondly, Turkey's energy relations with Caspian Sea countries have been determined by its overall objective of an energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe that could serve as an alternative to the existing Russia-dominated energy corridor between the two. At present, the European Union countries receive energy from the Caspian Sea region through Russia as Russia imports energy from other post-Soviet states in the Caspian Sea region; namely, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan at very low price levels, and re-exports these energy supplies to the EU member countries at very high price levels. The creation of an alternative energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe could decrease the price for natural gas for European energy consumers by increasing the competition in the market.

Thirdly, the legal dispute concerning the status of the Caspian Sea as a Sea or a Lake has increased Russia's leverage in the energy politics of the Caspian Sea region. Nevertheless, Russia's pragmatic decision to side with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, which claimed that the Caspian Sea was a Sea concerning the exploitation of the energy reserves in the Caspian Sea, and to side with Turkmenistan and Iran, which claimed that the Caspian Sea was a lake concerning the sovereign rights of the littoral states, suited the interest of Turkey and other members of the international community. In fact, Russia's cooperation with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in return for considerable shares in their oil and natural gas sectors cleared the way for the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline and South Caucasus (Baku-Erzurum-Ceyhan) Natural Gas Pipeline. In return, Russia increased its share in Turkey's natural gas imports by constructing the Blue Stream Natural Gas Pipeline by 2002 in addition to the existing Western Russia-Turkey Natural Gas Pipeline which was constructed in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, Turkey also sought to construct a Turkey-Greece-Italy Natural Gas Pipeline (The pipeline between Turkey and Greece has been already completed) in order to establish an energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe.

Fourthly, the success of Turkey's energy strategy has been heavily dependent on the success of the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project between the Caspian Sea and Europe. Turkey seeks to pump the natural gas from the Caspian Sea region via the Nabucco pipeline project to the following European countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. Turkey has already signed the intergovernmental agreement with these countries for the construction of the Nabucco pipeline. It is expected that the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project could realize Turkey's objective of creating an energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe that is an alternative to the existing Russian-dominated energy corridor.

Lastly, for the success of its energy strategy, Turkey also needs to be very creative in developing new energy projects and in transforming itself into an energy hub. This is partly because Russia has recently intensified its efforts at constructing its South Stream natural gas pipeline that will provide natural gas to all of the Nabucco partners in Europe, with the exception of Serbia, replacing Romania. Besides, Moscow seeks to increase Turkey's dependence on Russia by expanding the capacity of the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline as well as constructing the Samsun-Ceyhan Turkish Straits "by-pass" oil pipeline. If Turkey comes up with creative projects, it could transform its dependence on Russian energy sources into an opportunity by constructing oil and natural gas pipelines between Ceyhan and Israel. This could not only create a solid basis for already strong relations between Turkey and Israel, but also transform Turkey into a real energy hub for the Eastern Mediterranean and the South Eastern Europe.

To conclude, although Turkey faces difficult challenges ahead to its energy strategy, Turkey's success in creating an alternative energy corridor between the Caspian Sea and Europe could have a very positive impact not only on its relations with the EU but also on Euro-Atlantic energy security as a whole.

September 2, 2010

Sources of Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East

In this guest web log, Dr. Oktay Tanrisever (Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey), the 2010 Alworth Institute International Fellow writes that Turkey is among the few states in the world that have increased their influence in the Middle East in the post-Cold War era. The modernization of the Middle East has become a very problematic issue as radical Islamist movements have been intensifying their confrontational attitudes towards the socio-political and economic reform efforts in the region. Consequently, terrorism has become a severe problem in the region especially in the aftermath of the horrendous terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 by the Al Qaida terrorist organization which has terrorist networks in many parts of the Middle East. In this context, in what ways has Turkey increased its influence in the Middle East? What are the implications for Turkey's changing international role?

Turkey has increased its influence in the Middle East by increasing its contribution to the international cooperation against terrorism both regionally and globally. Turkey did not exert much influence in the Middle East throughout the Cold War years partly because some of the Arab countries were pursuing very hostile policies towards Turkey, and partly because Turkey had been focusing mainly on developing its relations with the NATO allies in the West: The United States and Western European countries. In the post-Cold war era, Turkey has managed to increase its influence in the Middle East by developing its relations with regional states as well as cementing its strategic ties with Western NATO allies as its contributions to the international cooperation against terrorism and the modernization of the Middle East have increased considerably.

There are several sources of Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East. To begin with, the international fight against terrorism has increased the relevance of Turkey's secular model for the modernization of the Middle East. In fact, secularism is the fundamental principle of modern Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of Modern Turkey, designed and implemented a successful strategy of modernization for Turkey based on a secular model. Turkey's modernizing reforms included the abolition of the Caliphate, secularization of the educational system, the adoption of the Latin alphabet for the Turkish language and the promotion of women's rights. Turkey strengthened the institutional framework of its modernization strategy by joining the Western international institutions and developing a Western-type democratic political system with a functioning free market economy.

Secondly, Turkey's co-sponsorship of 'The Alliance of Civilizations' initiative in the post-9/11 era is also a factor that contributes to Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East. Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero put forward this initiative of the United Nations in 2005. Immediately, Turkey joined Spain in co-sponsoring this initiative that aimed to fight against extremism and socio-cultural polarization between Middle Eastern and Western societies. If unbridged, these cultural differences could be exploited by radical groups and terrorists for destabilizing the region. Besides, Turkey's policies have also contributed to the weakening of the 'Clash of Civilizations' hypothesis that sees civilizational clashes inevitable as radical groups that seek to deepen the cultural barriers find it difficult to explain Turkey's success in its Europeanization process since 1999.

Thirdly, Turkey's active contribution to international cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East also accounts for Turkey's increasing influence. In this respect, Turkey played an active role in the formation of the NATO Center of Excellence for Defence against Terrorism in Ankara. Besides, Turkey has also been playing a crucial role in the success of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan by sending one of the largest contingents. With its almost 2,000 troops, Turkey has been responsible for the security in the capital city of Kabul and Wardak province. Similarly, Turkey contributes to the Operation Active Endeavour naval operation of NATO in the Mediterranean Sea. This naval operation seeks to monitor and prevent any terrorist activity in the Mediterranean. Additionally, Turkey also played a crucial role in containing the spread of terrorism to the neighbouring countries of Iraq by initiating the Neighbours Conferences on Iraq as well as training Iraqi diplomats and security forces.

Last but not least, an important source of Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East stems from its contribution to the political and socio-economic modernization of the region. This is central to the attempts at dealing with the root causes of terrorism in the Middle East. Turkey's success in combining a democratic system with a dynamic free market economic structure enables it to contribute to the peace-building initiatives as well as third-party mediation in major conflicts throughout the Middle East in the post 9/11 era. These contributions of Turkey serve to marginalise radical groups and the terrorists in the Middle East considerably. Western countries and some of the Middle Eastern states view Turkey's constructive roles in the modernization of the region very positively. Consequently, this enables Turkey to project more soft power in many parts of the Middle East.

To conclude, Turkey's increasing influence in the Middle East contributes to the efforts at dealing with the immediate security challenges as well as the root causes of terrorism in the region.