Turkey: A “Strategic Partner” or a “Regional Power”
common values, history and institutional bonds bridging the two shores of the Atlantic, such political confrontations were often treated as little more than ‘domestic affairs.’ However, when a ‘strategic partner,’ such as Russia, which has for decades been treated as the outcast of Europe, is able to challenge the political coherence of the EU, then the issue at hand becomes existential. Indeed, the recent division of EU member states over the question of Lybia, where Britain and France chose intervention whilst Germany sided with Moscow in a non-intervention and no-confrontation policy line, indicates that “the community” we have known as ‘Euro-Atlantic’ is experiencing a deep crisis. The Turkish Strategic partnership? Clearly, therefore, EU’s objective should be to harness a relationship with Turkey of a more “strategic nature” that the one we currently enjoy with Russia. After all, Turkey is a long standing partner of “Europe” and a member of NATO. Moreover, its strategic significance for Europe can hardly be overstated. If we were to take note of former German Foreign Minister and chief Nabucco-project lobbyist Joschka Fischer, time is not on our side: “It can’t be said often enough: Turkey is situated in a highly sensitive geopolitical location, particularly where Europe’s security is concerned. The eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean, the western Balkans, the Caspian region and the southern Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East are all areas where the West will achieve nothing or very little without Turkey’s support. And this is true in terms not only of security policy, but also of energy policy if you’re looking for alternatives to Europe’s growing reliance on Russian energy supplies. (…)”. All competing scenarios for the emerging European energy architecture are built around the notion of Turkish centrality. Moreover, Turkey is gaining significance as a booming economy of over 70 million inhabitants. What’s more, Turkey has time and again proved that it can be a reliable partner. For instance, Turkey only reluctantly endorsed the Russian offer for the Blue Stream II project in 2005, giving priority to the EU sponsored Nabucco project. Russia thus turned to the Balkans, established an alliance with Italy, carving an alternative route from the Russian Black Sea coast via an offshore pipeline to Bulgaria. However, neither Russia nor the EU can afford to exclude Turkey from their fossil fuel grand strategy.
MARIA ELENI KOPPA
Published on Feb 16, 2012
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...