EU or Shanghai bloc? What options does Erdogan have?

European Parliament votes to suspend talks with Turkey on EU membership. What’s next for Turkey? Read few comments.

Questions:

1. When President Erdogan is talking that Turkey could join Shanghai bloc, how serious do you think is he and would SCO be even interested in Turkey?

2. Should NATO, EU be somehow worried because of real (or maybe not so real intentions?) Erdogan’s intentions regarding SCO?

Answers:

Bill  Park, Senior Lecturer, Department of Defence Studies, King’s College, London University

1. I think he is serious, and that Turkey is undergoing a real paradigm shift away from the west and towards authoritarian regimes that are not disturbed by his trampling of democracy. Erdogan is trying to provoke the EU especially (he does have some hopes for Trump though). And I believe the SCO would welcome Turkey – a large market, a quite developed economy, a routeway. China has recently indicated that it is interested in Turkey’s SCO affiliation. Putin especially would like to see the west lose Turkey, but he will surely want Turkey to drop its animosity to Assad (he might already have achieved that in fact).

2. As for the west’s reactions, the US is now too difficult to call, but Trump will not have issues with Turkey’s human rights abuses. As for the EU, governments do not change direction easily. Turkey is a NATO partner, a trade partner. They are also worried that Erdogan could unleash the refugees. In any case, governments conduct state-to-state relations. Human rights issues are only ever a used instrumentally. However Europe’s parliaments, and especially the EP, has become very concerned. We will see late today  about the EP vote. Overall, with Turkey on its current trajectory, Turkey-EU relations will suffer badly and probably experience a slow death.

Toni Alaranta, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

The fact is that Turkey does not trust Russia or China, but it is also true that the current leadership composed of Islamic-conservatives is seemingly feeling uncomfortable in the Western camp as well. The desire to promote multipolar world order, where Turkey can be as independent as possible, thus explains a lot of Turkey’s foreign policy during the last ten years. Now the domestic project and building of legitimacy no longer requires anchoring Turkey to West ideologically. This is something what the West indeed should be worried about.

The SCO countries at least did not shoot down the idea of Turkey joining.

So, it might be a bluff but the reasons for strain Turkey-West relations are very much real and are likely to continue as long as Erdogan rules Turkey.

I pretty much agree with what Mr. Idiz says in this article.

David RomanoAssociate Professor, Missouri State University

Mr. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) never had any great enthusiasm for joining the EU. With their Muslim identity politics and conservatism, the EU’s progressive, secular norms and emphasis on things like gender equality and minority rights counter-balanced the possible economic benefits of Turkish accession to the EU. They only pursued EU membership vigorously in the early years of AKP rule in order to use the Coppenhagen criteria to push the Turkish military out of politics. Once this was accomplished, AKP interest waned. Most AKP politicians and their supporters don’t even like Europe; they see their identity and future with the Muslim world.

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