EU and Turkey under Juncker's presidency

Published 05.07.2014 00:40

The rapid political developments in Turkey, the Presidential elections and candidates cast a shadow on the changes in foreign politics. However there have been major developments in the EU. Jean-Claude Juncker was elected as the President of the European Commission after long debates and negotiations, which reflected the disagreements and discussions within the EU.

Great Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron had been against his appointment until the very last moment, though he could not change the outcome despite having Hungary as an ally. It is unclear why Britain had been so strongly opposed Juncker's appointment. Juncker's representation of "EU federalism" is the biggest problem for Great Britain, more than his personality and experience. The main goals of the British politicians are to bring about a more liberal free trade zone where the EU Member States face less intervention in their internal affairs. However the EU missed that opportunity long ago to establish such a structure for the Union and instead created a much more complex and deep consolidation system.

On the other hand, it has become clear that some EU Member States fail to comply with implementing the EU acquis fully along the latest enlargement. Today no one believes that Romania, Bulgaria or even Greece are able to transform into members truly holding EU standards. The EU is compiled of equally applied rules by each Member State for a uniform type of membership and no significant steps have been taken until today towards a more flexible structure. In brief, the EU is insisting on running an unsustainable system and the tension caused thereof is reflected in every phase of politics.

Turkey feels the negative reflections of this tension in its relations with the EU. During the latest visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan to France, France's support in the opening of three Chapters was clearly expressed. But Southern Cyprus by itself can block the will of France or Germany. If Southern Cyprus, as a divided and bankrupt state that shelters the offshore banking operations of Russian oligarchs, is able to block the EU, there is a significant operational problem. Turkey has the ability to make a much stronger long-term plan, during the time of "inertia" the EU has fallen into. From this perspective, it can address much more easily the chronic political problems at home such as the Kurdish issue or the Cyprus issue. Making the best out of this period, Turkey can maintain inner peace and enforce social solidarity while overcoming numerous problems in its relations with the EU.

Recent developments have shown that the limits of the EU external borders are the West of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Maintaining minimum stability in the Balkans in the first place and then in North Black Sea and the Caucasus is tied to growing Turkey-EU relations on a better, deep and promising perspective. At this stage, the backing of nor opposition towards Turkey's membership by a politician such as Jean-Claude Juncker is less relevant. It is worth remembering that the Luxembourg presidency, under Juncker's premiership, back in 2005 has been instrumental to start Turkish membership negotiations.

The retiring President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, was an opponent to Turkish membership as much as Juncker, when he was elected. However, it was also Van Rompuy who has paid a visit and asked from Ankara to continue its support to the EU target. The external dynamics opens an important window of opportunity for Turkey, this need to be backed by internal political moves such as the "resolution process". Opposing such steps for internal policy considerations is at best not applicable, at worst dangerous for Turkey.

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