Are we coming to the end of Turkey's 53-year EU integration process? Certainly, Turkish-EU relations are in crisis, however, Turkey's termination of the EU accession process and the freezing of negotiations will not be a direct consequence of this crisis. The EU beginning to understand Turkey will be the starting point for the resolution of the crisis.
It is possible to simply define the European Commission's (EC) annual Progress Report on Turkey for 2016 as the EU does not understand Turkey. In fact, this lack of understanding is a political stance that the EU deliberately prefers. Since the EU very well understands what is happening in the country and in which direction it is progressing, it keeps repeating the same old stories as if it does not understand.
We know the facts behind the EU's so-called concerns about the steps Turkey took after the July 15 coup attempt. The elimination of the parallel state structures such as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the fight against the civilian wings of the PKK terrorist organization and the failure to resolve the refugee crisis as Germany wanted, caused the EU to voice threatening statements such as freezing negotiations and launching an economic embargo against Turkey.
We know that these statements are not the direct results of the EU's official view, however, we cannot help but ask whether central countries make peripheral countries like Australia, which are increasingly shifting toward a racist political line, say these things.
The question on which we must focus is why the EU has recently started to push the limits. Why are countries like Australia, which is adopting a neo-Nazist political path, made to say these? Here, we need to look at the EU's real management regime.
"Historically, two leadership models developed within the EU. The European Commission presents the first model. This happened at the beginning of the European integration process in the 1950s and largely during Jacques Delors's presidency in the 1980s. Also in this period, a common market emerged within the EU and the process of transition to a single currency began. The second leadership model is the French-German leadership. This model was based on France's political and German's economic leadership. Today, neither models apply and the EU is managed by a single state: Germany" (Romanova, Le Monde Diplomatique Turkey - September 2016).
We can confirm this determination as follows: The EU's economic capital is Frankfurt where the European Central Bank (ECB) is located, and its political capital is the French city of Strasbourg, which is located on the German-French border. However, this dual leadership was dissolved when Germany unified with East Germany in the early 1990s, and was actually dissolved with the emergence of the euro as a common currency at the beginning of the 21st century. Germany seized both economic and political leadership. In fact, civil wars in Eastern Europe in the 1990s and the disintegration of Yugoslavia signified the de facto fragmentation of the EU and the end of EU integration and the accompanying expansion.
From then on, small Eastern European countries that joined the union became EU members, just steps in Germany's expansion, which started in the 1990s. At the same time, Germany tried to access Russian energy resources, which was its main objective before World War II, this time through its economic power, instead of its military power. Throughout this process, Gazprom's investments and its expansion into Europe happened through Germany. Germany hardly ever blocked Russia on the Ukrainian and Crimean issues.
The rapid rise in the size of Turkey's energy sector and market over the past decade, its accession to Caucasian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean resources and its commercialization of them, and it rivalry with Germany in Middle Eastern, Caucasian and African markets strained Turkish-EU (Turkey-Germany) relations. The resolution of the fighter jet crisis with Russia, which turned out to be a plot foreshadowing the July 15 coup attempt, as well as the improvement of relations with Russia and Israel on the same days, pushed the EU (Germany) into a possible crisis in accessing both energy and market areas. This was because Turkey would be controlling southern energy transits through the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) and northern energy transits through the Turkish Stream bypassing Ukraine. Moreover, the Cyprus question, which progressed toward resolution, and the restoration of relations with Israel would directly connect Eastern Mediterranean energy resources and the Mediterranean trade cycle to Turkey. Also, the refugee crisis highlighted Turkey-centric integration toward the east of Turkey.
Now, the EU (Germany) makes statements showing that it is out of its depth, such as freezing negotiation chapters and launching an economic embargo. First of all, an economic embargo will harm the EU more than Turkey. The EU must consider that Turkey is a part of the Customs Union. On the other hand, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which was proposed during Barack Obama's term and collapsed before Donald Trump was elected, has largely fallen off the agenda. This is an important reason why the EU does not want a strong Turkey. The TTIP project was based on direct agreement and commercial integration between the EU (Germany) and the U.S. Turkey would not be included in the TTIP, and it would have to link its industry and trade to the EU as it is in the Customs Union. As a result, it would lose its political initiative to the extent that it would be a political periphery of Germany. In other words, Germany and the U.S. would actualize a quasi-Balkanization project in Turkey even if not as bloody as the one in Yugoslavia. We must view the July 15 coup attempt from this perspective.
As a result, the EU (Germany) can neither freeze negotiation chapters, nor resort to economic embargo, which will intensify its existing economic crisis. But, there is no doubt that they will try different and new things. Let us remember that Turkey is not Yugoslavia and we are not in the 1990s. The stability of Turkey is also the stability of Europe.
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