Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Ankara shows its hand

Below is another good piece from Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate Magazine, on Turkey’s attempts to bully NATO over the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as its new secretary-general and the consequences this may have for Turkey’s EU ambitions and President Obama’s Turkey overtures. See here for Hitchens’ previous article on Turkey and Armenian genocide denial.

Turkey’s scheming in Strasbourg shows it doesn’t belong in the European Union
The most underreported story of the month must surely be the announcement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that he no longer supports the accession of Turkey as a full member of the European Union. His reasoning was very simple and intelligible, and it has huge implications for the Barack Obama 'make nice' school of diplomacy.

At a NATO summit in Strasbourg in the first week of April, it had been considered a formality that the alliance would vote to confirm Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark, as its new secretary-general. But very suddenly, the Turkish delegation threatened to veto the appointment. The grounds of Turkey's opposition were highly significant. Most important, they had to do with the publication of some cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. In spite of an organized campaign of violence and boycott against his country, and in spite of a demand by a delegation of ambassadors from supposedly 'Islamic' states, Rasmussen consistently maintained that Danish law did not allow him to interfere with the Danish press. Years later, resentment at this position led Turkey — which is under its own constitution not an 'Islamic' country — to use the occasion of a NATO meeting to try again to interfere with the internal affairs of a member state.

The second ground of Turkey's objection is also worth noting. From Danish soil a TV station broadcasts in the Kurdish language to Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. The government in Ankara, which evidently believes that all European governments are as untrammeled as itself, brusquely insists that Denmark do what it would do and simply shut the transmitter down. Once again unclear on the concepts of the open society and the rule of law — if the station is sympathetic to terrorism, as Ankara alleges, there are procedures to be followed — the Turkish authorities attempt a fiat that simply demands that others do as they say.

The implications of all this, as Kouchner stated in an interview, are extremely serious. 'I was very shocked by the pressure that was brought upon us,' he said. 'Turkey's evolution in, let's say, a more religious direction, towards a less robust secularism, worries me.' This is to put it in the mildest possible way. It's not just a matter of a Turkish political party undermining Turkey's own historic secularism. It is a question of Turkey trying to impose its Islamist and chauvinist policies on another European state — and indeed on the whole NATO alliance. And if this is how it behaves before it has been admitted to the European Union, has it not invited us all to guess how it would behave when it had a veto power in those councils?

For contrast, one might mention the example of reunited federal Germany, easily the strongest economic power in the European Union, which painstakingly adjusted itself to its neighbors — to the extent of giving up even the deutsche mark for the euro — and adopted the slogan 'not a Germanized Europe but a Europeanized Germany'. With Turkey, it seems the reverse is the case. Its troops already occupy one-third of the territory of an EU member (Cyprus), and now it exploits its NATO membership to try to bully one of the smaller nations with which it is supposed to be conjoined in a common defense. For good measure, it continues to be ambiguous about its recognition of the existence of another non-Turkish people — the Kurds — within its frontiers.

President Obama's emollient gifts were on display at the NATO summit, where he eventually persuaded the Turks to withhold their veto on the appointment of Prime Minister Rasmussen. Accounts differ as to the price of this deal, but a number of plum jobs and positions now appear to have been awarded to Turkish nominees. Much more important, however, the foreign minister of France has reversed his previous position and has now said: 'It's not for the Americans to decide who comes into Europe or not. We are in charge in our own house.' Put it like this: Obama's 'quiet diplomacy' has temporarily conciliated the Turks while perhaps permanently alienating the French and has made it more, rather than less, likely that the American goal of Turkish EU membership will now never be reached. And this is the administration that staked so much on the idea of renewing our credit on the other side of the Atlantic. This evidently can't be done by sweetness alone.

On the question of Turkey's accession, I used to be able to make either case. Admitting the Turks could lead to the modernization of the country, whereas exclusion could breed resentment and instability and even a renewal of pseudo-Ataturkist military rule. On the other hand, admission would put the frontiers of Europe up against Iran and Iraq and the volatile Caucasus, so that instead of being a 'bridge' between East and West (to use the unvarying cliché), Turkey would become a tunnel.

The Strasbourg crisis clarifies the entire picture and should make us grateful to have been warned in such a timely fashion. Turkey wants all the privileges of NATO and EU membership but also wishes to continue occupying Cyprus, denying Kurdish rights, and lying about the Armenian genocide. On top of this, it now desires to act as a proxy for Islamization and dares to waste the time of a defensive alliance in trying to censor the press of another member state! Kouchner was quite right to speak out as he did, and the Turkish authorities will now be able to blame the failure of their membership scheme not on the unsleeping plots of their enemies, but on the belated awakening of their former friends.

17 comments:

lastgreek said...

How lovely! The French Foreign Minister has the balls to speak up against Turkey accension while the Greek government just sits there with its EU veto stuffed snugly up its behind instead of down Turkey's throat.

Cowards!

~lg

Hermes said...

Bernard Kouchner is either a snake or stupid. He makes out that it is Turkey's creeping Islamisation that is making it increasingly unEuropean; however, secularist Kemalism was just as intolerant, if not more. The fact is Turkey should never have been considered for entry into the EU in the first place.

Kouchner and Hitchen's recent belated enlightenment regarding Turkey only shows how feeble minded they really are!!

lastgreek said...

Hermes,

I agree that Kemalism was just as intolerant if not worse. (Btw,I've always hated the phrase "young Turks.")

As for Kouchner, I don't know much about him to comment. However, I'll take a veto against Turkish accension from anywhere I can since the Greek government doesn't have the courage (or brains) to use it's veto.

Excuse my ignorance, but why is the Greek government afraid to use its veto? What are they threatened by and by whom?

And to be fair, I'd like to ask why most, if not all, EU member governments support Turkish membership when their own populations don't. Are all these EU countries that eager for Turkish cheap labour?

~lg

Anonymous said...

Kutchner is part of the globalist cabala which has a grip and stranglehold on EU political dynamics. What he does is just posturing, together with Sarkozy, and other aliens ,they are in the jockeying the phases of facilitating turkey's de jure entry into the EU. It is a " poker game " they are playing with the mongols . The the mongol's , de jure, accession into the EU should not even cross the mind of the most demented critter, the Mongol is not a european nation, neither culturally, racially, linguistically or geographically. Why are europeans peddling a non european nation into admission into their fraternity ? . As far as our government and establishment is concerned, we simply don't count. Our representatives look up to receive orders from Brussels. Brussels diktats is what our politicians feed upon and will act upon. We have no foreign policy. We have no initiatives of our own, we like to parrot the mantra of european enosis ad nauseaum, we turn our nation into a borderless free area ofEU dependency, without realizing that it is a concept inimical to our national interests and survival. Our foreign policy is not Greek foreign policy ( unlike the mongol's)it is an extension, an appendix ,of the overall Brussel's stratagems and political designs. It is time that we realize that our country , beign an integral part of a decaying monolith like the EU, is just a provincial outpost of the EU moloch. We are a " province" of the EU. We are living in the illusion of the EU, forgetting and ignoring national core and visceral issues for our existence and survival. How can one explain the obsequious and subservient manner in which Greek politicians interralate with the mongol enemy ? It has developed into a pawn and patron relationship. " We can not antagonize the ottomans" it is the shout from the rooftops by madame Bakoyianis and her cronies in the pseftogovernment of ours . Has anyone told these non descript clowns in government that turkey is the eternal enemy, and that no amount of diplomatic legerdemain can undo centuries of history between the two ? Our buffoons view the turks as " partners " and " business associates" , the turks view Greece as a pawn on the chessboard, to be swiped or taken out, a stepping stone to their designs of over running and expanding their presence in europe with the millions of their wild masses. The best thing for Greece would be the collapse of this abomination which is the EU, maybe then we can chart a path which is suited to our peculiar and individual national aspirations. When turks gain de jure admission to the EU, our borderless free " territory" would be morphed into a halfway station, for the millions of mongols on their march to the west. Now we know why the Germans build the humungous Venizelos airport. They did not build it for the benefit of Greece. They build it as an international station to ferry the millions from Asia in their journeys from East to West.

Anonymous said...

A new expression term is being coined; the " secular".the secular moslem, the " secular" turk, the "secular" french or german or greek. The secular human being is the next fad to hit the international agenda and how the masses of the world, irrespective of nationailites, would be referred to. In an internationalized, globalized stew of nations and races, the new term to refer to the international denizen is : the secular human being. Start getting used to it, we are no longer Greeks, that is not acceptable in the idiomatic expresion of the new internationale mass man, we are secular human beings.

Hermes said...

lastGreek, as Anonymous says the Greek government is not really a Greek government - it simply implements directives from the EU. However, some analysts say that the Greeks have been parroting Turkey's EU accension without using their veto because they do not want to take the blame for the inevitable rejection of Turkey by the rest of Europe. Essentially, when Turkey is having a spastic fit in discovering they will not join, they cannot turn around to us and say it was Greece's fault - remember we live next to the Mongol monster and Denmark does not. However, I do not believe we (the Greeks) are that intelligent anymore. I have not noticed any signs of this intelligence at least since the 1970's.

The great danger for some Greek analysts is that Turkey is given a special partnership with the EU - they take the privileges of membership such as greater access to product markets but are not constrained by the same political pressures. This is a nightmare scenario for the Greeks and will show that our foreign policy has been a complete failure for the last 15 years.

Apart from that I think Anonymous pretty much covers it.

john akritas said...

This question of Greece and Cyprus supporting Turkey's full EU accession was brought up yesterday during a press conference in Nicosia with Karamanlis and Christofias (Karamanlis is on an official visit to Cyprus). Both K and C were explicit. Full accession is supported because it provides a 'motive' for Turkey to be constructive in Cyprus talks and in bilateral issues with Greece. When a journalist asked what is our Plan B since so far Turkey has shown no flexibility in solving the Cyprus problem and continues its violation of Greek airspace and can't even bring itself to open Halki and will we use our veto to halt Turkey's EU process, the answers from K and C were, effectively, that there is no Plan B. There will be no veto – because this will isolate Greece and Cyprus in the EU and because this removes Turkey's 'motive' to change.

A couple more interesting points emerged from K during the press conference. First, he said he is against deferring the report the EU is due to give at the end of the year on Turkey's EU accession and Turkey's refusal to implement the Customs Union with Cyprus. Pro-Turks in the EU want to postpone the report. And, secondly, K said Turkey's insistence on maintaining its 1960 guarantor status in any new Cyprus settlement was 'anachronistic'. K said the EU is the best guarantor for Cyprus. The Turks have said its guarantor status is non-negotiable. K, however, did leave open the possibility that Turkey could continue with its guarantor status for a transitionary period.

lastgreek said...

John,

The site www.richarddawkins.net has just posted Hitchens' article Ankara Shows Its Hand on its front page. All comments by members so far have been against Turkish entry into the EU. I just posted my comment on the site.

That said, I'd like to thank you, Hermes, and the other fellow (anonymous) for making a few things clear regarding secularism/Kemalism and Greece's role in Turkey's accension process. I took your points into consideration when I posted on rd.net. Thank you.

~lg


~lgs

Hermes said...

This is an absolutely momentous test of Karamanlis's courage (the little he has left). However, there probably will be no need of a veto as the other Europeans will scuttle Turkey's accession. Furthermore, Greece and Cyprus are already isolated due to long term factors such as geography, culture, religion, language and shorter term factors such as economic mismanagement, deals with Russia etc. Also, European NGOs have been doing their work trying to isolate Greece and Cyprus i.e. the 2008 report from the Soros sponsored European Council of Foreign Relations. Therefore, fear of isolation is unfounded.

Note: Karamanlis has just cancelled a meeting with Putin. I think the question of his courage has just been answered.

lastgreek said...

edit: "accession" not "accension"

John, I can really use an "edit" button here. :)

lastgreek said...

Hermes,

What was the meeting between K and P about? Why the cancellation?

thanks

Hermes said...

Apologies Putin cancelled his attendance at a conference for Black Sea and Balkan energy in which Karamanlis and Putin were to meet. As far as I know there has been no further meeting proposed between Putin and Karamanlis but the Bulgarian reps are heading to Moscow soon. The fear is that Karamanlis pulls out of the South Stream project due to pressure applied by the Americans and Europeans. This would be a disaster because it leaves us with even fewer diplomatic levers than we already have mainly due to the incompetence of the Greek foreign ministry.

john akritas said...

I think Karamanlis' natural inclination – and Papandreou's – is to go with the Americans and this overture to the Russians in recent years was an aberration reflecting how bad things got with the Bush administration, particularly over Skopje, and I'm therefore not surprised if Greek relations with Russia are cooling.

As for the EU, while it is a straightjacket in many respects; it's worth pointing out that Greece – politicians and public opinion – is one of the enthusiastic devotees of the EU 'project' and regards it as a bulwark against Turkey and against Balkan irredentists as well as offering hope for economic advancement. It could be argued that without the EU, Greece would be forced to stand on its own two feet in relation to the Turks and find Greek solutions to Greek social and economic malaise; but I wonder where Greece would be without the subsidies and security the EU provides. Would Greece really have any leverage with Skopje if Greece wasn't in the EU? All the Europeans would have all recognised Skopje as 'Macedonia' by now if Greece hadn't used its position in the EU to thwart this. And as for Cyprus: the only reason the Turks are even talking about a solution is because Cyprus is in the EU and Turkey wants to get in. The most Euro-skeptic countries are the UK, Sweden, Denmark. I wouldn't like to see us in a bloc with this lot, particularly the British, who are anti-European American lackeys really.

Hermes said...

One should never fully support one side in international relations/diplomacy because they take you for granted. Karamanlis's overtures to Russia does not necessarily mean Greece will allow Russian warships to dock at Suda Bay but it means Greece has more options when negotiating with the US-UK, EU and even Russia.

Regarding the EU subsidies to Greece, I see it as short term gain for long term loss. When someones hands you five million dollars for nothing you do not bother to get up early for work, maybe you do not go to work at all i.e. you become lazy. Likewise, 30 years of subsidies, which is essentially cheap credit, has resulted in a Greek society becoming parasitic, lazy, inefficient and uncreative (Karabelias). Also, in relation to the Skopje issue (or even northern Epirus) if we were not in the EU perhaps we would have had the balls to send in troops to protect Greeks in these lands (just like the Chosen Ones do) at the cost of international isolation. Personally, I do not mind having to get a visa to visit every country on earth, due to having a Greek passport.

Hermes said...

Looks like Karamanlis has been spooked by the Americans. Why do we put up with these spineless idiots as leaders? It appears we will never learn.

Hermes said...

Apologies, I was meant to include the following:

http://infognomonpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-post_3639.html

john akritas said...

It is inconceivable for Greece to be outside of the EU; though it's certainly true that the country has sacrificed a lot in terms of national sovereignty and culture for the sake of the 'modernity' the EU was supposed to bring. I'm not convinced its EU subsidies that have made Greeks uncreative and inefficient. Maybe they've just disguised these endemic faults in the Greek economy and society and postponed reform, rather than being the cause. You are right: the alternative for Greece would have been to become like Israel – which has a strong economy and dynamic military – but, of course, Israel is largely dependent on the US for this. Small countries need big allies.

And in the case of Northern Epirus, Greece doesn't need to send in troops to protect/liberate the minority. It has all the economic and diplomatic tools at its disposal to press the Albanians and gradually detach Northern Epirus from Albania, and yet we do nothing, not even when the minority's leaders are jailed.

http://strategy-geopolitics.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-post_8129.html

Like you say, the problem is our spineless leaders; but they've been this way for a long time, way before Greece joined the EU.

On the Northern Epirotes, generally; it strikes me that they've been utterly betrayed and abandoned by the Greek government – and by Greek society as a whole – and that their travails under Hoxha were no less traumatic than those experienced by the Cypriots in '74 – and yet Cyprus gets much, much more of Greece's foreign policy attention and sympathy – although this is not saying a great deal.