.: Arda Akçiçek

Why Turkey should matter to Europeans

In fact, the answer is so simple: There a disaster approaches to Europe and European leaders are doing nothing about it. And Turkey is the only country in the region to cooperate for preventing this incoming disaster.

Turkey has been a stabilized and unitary country that has not gone to any war since WWI. And Europe has not experienced a Turkey having serious conflicts within the country and in the region. Turkey has been the only frontier that keeps Europe distant to crises of the Middle East. I do not know if Europeans have calculated what would it cost if Turkey ends up in war or civil war, but it is not that hard to imagine that it will cost much to Europe more than any other party.

It is for sure that Europe has been lacking of visionary leaders. European politicians seem more concerned with domestic issues. While the whole continent becomes more Islamophobic, anti-refugee or anti-immigrant; i.e. culturally dominated, Europeans are becoming difficult to be convinced by political principles. It makes, for instance, French police to force a woman, sunbathing at a beach, to take off her headscarf. And that does not bother many Europeans as it has violated principles of equality and freedom.

What is happening now in Europe looks complicated to explain; however, one thing can be easily raised as European leaders have failed to follow up the world agenda. There are lots of things turning around Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Middle East. If they were consulted correctly on international politics, many things especially in the Euro-Asian and Middle East regions would be different. For instance, Syrian war and refugee crisis would not go that further and become a disaster.

Many American strategists and authors, like Michael Rubin, are really good on making predicts (or plans) on the future of Turkey by assuming (or wishfully thinking) that a coup gets successful or President Erdogan gets assassinated and giving recipes to whom it may concern.  Let’s do the same thing. However, the prediction will be on Europe this time.

If Turkey is achieved to get destabilized somehow and gone to civil war or war, that means the war is knocking the Europe’s door. The terror would be the best alternative then, since Turkey is right now the only factor that prevents the war to jump in Europe. Turkey’s fall will surely bring an enormous disaster in the region. This time not only Syrians but many other nations including Turks would also refuge to Europe. At least, it is obvious that Europe cannot put such a distant to crisis because it will be on the Greek and Bulgarian borders. And refugees will be the smallest problem to concern.

Turkey has been one of the strongest ally of the US and Europe in the region. Though many strategists would say Erdogan has put an end to this, they are indeed mistaken. The US and Europe cannot find a better ally in the region, since there is no alternative at all in the country if it is not democratically elected government. And Erdogan is the only alternative. That means, instead of pushing it out of the game, European players need to get closer to Turkey because it looks like the only potential partner in the region. The US will abandon the region to Russia soon, since its focus shifts to Asia-Pacific as a part of new USA foreign policy. And in case Clinton gets the Oval Office, this move is going to escalate. What especially Europeans need to understand is that the US is playing the game according to its interests but Europeans cannot even become a player. USA seems like having conflict with Turkey as interests of both parties are not overlapping. However, Europe’s interests are exactly the same of Turkey’s: stabilization of the region. Europeans should approach to their very long-time ally, Turkey much more and should sit at the table with Turks to become an actor to face with the US and Russia. Otherwise, while the US and Russia will be the winners of this game, Europe is going to encounter a disaster.

However, Europe still seems to fail to comprehend significance of Turkey’s elected government. The thing that misleads them is that they still think there could be an actor other than democratically elected government, who could maintain political and economic stabilization in the country. That could be valid during 80s and 90s, but Turkey’s political scene has changed so much. Democratization and liberalization of the country, especially in last two decades, has raised political awareness of Turks and made them sensitive on their rights and freedom. They always believed in democracy and showed that since 1950s; however, they were not bold enough to protect it against violations. What has changed recently is that they now risk death to preserve their will and not to consent any political authority other than elected by their votes. Thus, if any other authority captures the power, it will bring only civil war to the country and an enormous disaster to Europe.  If putschists were successful at the night of July 15, Turkey would face a civil war since civilians would not let the military to rule. Thus, Europe should understand that they have no cavalier to dance other than Turkey’s legitimate, democratically elected government.

What is needed to be done before it is too late is to put the political leadership of Europe in action and to take the field with Turkey. Europeans should open all political and communication fields to Turkey’s legitimate, civil authorities and elected government and to regain their trust to start negotiations and cooperation. If Europe cannot turn into an actor now, Brexit will be just the beginning of new dark era of the old continent.

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