March 18, 2012

WHO ELSE IS THERE?:

The Americanisation of Turkey (Dimitar Bechev, 18 March 2012, OpenDemocracy)

In post-Kemalist Turkey, the earlier American vision is coming to full fruition. Europe's evident failure to accomplish its transformative mission means that Turkish politics is coming under the sway, not of Europeanisation but of Americanisation.

There are many manifestations of the trend. Perhaps the clearest is Turkey's foreign relations. Before the Arab spring of 2011, Turkey had confidently pursued what it called a "zero-problems" regional approach (its own version of Brussels's "European neighbourhood policy" that promotes functional integration with states on the European Union's periphery).

But the violent upheavals in Libya and Syria effectively derailed the "zero-problems" principle. Instead, the region's new turmoil reinforced Ankara's bonds with Washington as they forged a common front on the Syrian crisis (while agreeing to disagree on Israel). Turkey shifted towards projecting the notion of a "Turkish model" as something the awakened Arabs could emulate - whose traces of a "freedom agenda" had resemblances to the outlook of neocons in the George W Bush administration.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has even spoken of a "golden era" in US-Turkish relations (which suggests she may be unaware of how close the states were in the 1950s). The contrast with Europe is stark, as Turkey's relations with EU heavyweights such as France and Germany over its stalled membership negotiations have become poisoned. From Ankara's perspective, the shift towards Washington is natural: after all, what security assets does crisis-stricken Europe have to help Turkey fend off threats emanating from an imploding Syria, an expansionist Iran or an unstable Iraq?

Posted by at March 18, 2012 6:52 PM
  

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