Hulusi Akar’ın Almanya Ziyareti Ne Anlam Taşıyor?

Geçen hafta Almanya’yı ziyaret eden Türkiye Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar
Alman meslektaşı Karrenbauer tarafından hem büyük bir nezaket hem de siyasi
olarak “kulağa hoş gelen bir söylemle” karşılandı. Türkiye’nin NATO’nun çok
önemli bir üyesi ve aynı zamanda Almanya için çok önemli siyasi ve ekonomik
bir ortak olduğunu ifade etti.

Son yıllarda Alman ve Türk siyasilerin birbirlerine karşı sert söylemleri ile ‘’Berlin
ve Ankara’daki sağır kulaklar’’ artık tam anlamıyla ortadan kalkmamış olsa da,
Almanya halen Türkiye’nin AB içindeki ‘’avukatı olma’’ rolünü devam ettirmeye
devam edecek gibi görünüyor.

Türkiye’nin son yıllarda icra ettiği başarılı askeri operasyonların Almanya
tarafından çok yakından takip edildiği ve başta Silahlı İnsansız Hava Aracı (SİHA)
konusunda Türkiye’nin geldiği teknolojik seviye en üst noktaya gelirken, Alman
ordusu tarafında, halen, SİHA’ları envanterine katıp katmama konusunda ortak
bir kanı oluşmadığı görülüyor. Türkiye’nin on yıllardır en önemli silah ve
teknoloji tedarikçisi olan Almanya’da, son aylarda Türkiye’ye yönelik var olan
olumsuz yaklaşıma rağmen, Alman Koalisyon Hükümeti pragmatik bir yaklaşım
ile Türkiye’ye hem askeri ambargo konulmasını önlemiş hem de Türkiye ile
birçok bölgesel sorunda benzer yaklaşım içine girmiştir.

Almanya ile Rusya arasındaki ilişkilerin bir kriz doğurması ihtimali artarken,
Türkiye ile Rusya arasında askeri ve siyasi ilişkiler, Yukarı Karabağ savaşında da
görüldüğü gibi, son on yılda iki ülke arasındaki kompartımanlaştırılan konular
içinde işbirliği alanı dahilinde değerlendirilen bir gelişme olarak görülmektedir.
Almanya’daki siyasi ve ekonomi elitlerinin Türkiye yaklaşımı çok gerçekçi bir
noktaya gelmiş bulunmaktadır. Savunma Bakanı Akar’ın Almanya’dan neler
talep ettiğini bilmiyoruz. Fakat Almanya’nın, Türkiye’nin Rusya’ya daha fazla
yakınlaşmasını istemediği bilinmektedir.

Joe Biden yönetiminin Türkiye yaklaşımı da çok önemli olacaktır. Bu nedenle
Washington-Berlin-Ankara ekseni oluşacağı öngörülebilir. İngiltere’nin AB’den
ayrılması, Avrupa Savunmasında önemli bir boşluk oluşturmuştur. Türkiye’nin
oluşan bu ‘’boşluğu doldurma arzusu’’ Ocak ayı başında Cumhurbaşkanı
Erdoğan tarafından AB Büyükelçilerine verdiği yemekte ifade edilmiştir.
Temel soru ise şudur? Bu yıl Eylül ayında yapılacak Almanya genel seçimlerinin
sonucunda kurulacak yeni Hükümet, Merkel politikalarını devam mı ettirecek
yoksa yeni bir yaklaşım mı benimseyecek? Beklenti, Almanya’nın Bismarck veMerkel tipi bir ‘’realpolitik ve pragmatizm’’ yaklaşımlarını birlikte devam
ettirecek olmasıdır.

Sonuç olarak, Türkiye’nin son yıllardaki Suriye, Libya ve Doğu Akdeniz’de
sergilediği askeri başarılar Türkiye’yi bölgesinde çok daha güçlü bir konuma
getirmiştir. Alman mevkidaşı Karrenbauer’in Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar’a
Türkiye’nin her zaman Almanya’ya güvenebileceğini söylemesi Ankara
açısından iyiye işaret olsa da, sorun Almanya’nın bunda ne kadar samimi
olduğudur. Şimdi test edilmesi gereken Almanya’nın samimiyetidir.
Önümüzdeki günlerde yapılacak NATO ve Mart ayındaki AB toplantısı bu
testlerin yapılacağı toplantılar olacak. Bekleyip , göreceğiz.

Visits: 611

FPI ZOOM MEETING ON GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY: CHALLENGES, EXPECTATIONS AND SOLUTIONS

President of Foreign Policy Institute Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Bağcı and Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhlich met on 19.12.2020 at the zoom meeting titled ‘German Foreign Policy: Challenges, Expectations and Solutions’.

Find the video link of the whole webinar below;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiKfHWKqMpI

Visits: 580

Peeling Turkey Away from Russia’s Embrace: A Transatlantic Interest

From a European and transatlantic standpoint, it is as troubling as it is counter-intuitive: a de facto partnership has developed between Russia and Turkey, surrounding Europe. Paradoxical as it may be, the trend is now clear and represents a thorn in the side of European and transatlantic interests.

The paradox lies in the fact that Turkey and Russia are historic rivals. From the Ottoman-Russian wars to Turkey’s NATO membership as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, the Turkish-Russian relationship has never been easy. The post-Cold War period is no exception, nearing outright military confrontation only five years ago, when a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian aircraft near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Taken together, there is no region in and around Europe where Turkey and Russia see eye to eye. Be it in Central Asia where Moscow has stymied Ankara’s pan-Turkic dreams; in the Balkans where the two have taken different sides during war and peacetime alike; be it in North Africa and the Middle East where they have stood at loggerheads in the clash over political Islam; or in the Caucasus where Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan has mirrored Russia’s religious affinity and security bond with Armenia, Ankara and Moscow are rarely, if ever, on the same page.

Yet the pattern is clear: in every open conflict, Turkey and Russia have managed to find an entente that is as uneasy as it is real. In Syria, the clash could have tipped into outright confrontation, but after the near miss in 2015, Moscow and Ankara walked back from the brink, notably with the launch of the Astana process in which both have been deeply involved. Tensions have heated up again from time to time. With the prospect of Bashar al-Assad’s onslaught on Idlib in 2019, Turkey called Russia’s foul, but eventually the Turkish-Russian understanding held. In northeastern Syria too, where Turkey intervened militarily against the Syrian Kurds in 2016 and again in 2019, Moscow could have prevented Turkey’s offensive given its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) footprint on the Syrian airspace, but chose not to.

In Libya, Turkey and Russia have rallied for opposite sides of the civil war. Notably, Russia, with its Wagner mercenaries, provided crucial backing to Khalifa Haftar’s military offensive against the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Weighing in alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France, the Wagner group’s stepping into the Libyan quagmire almost tipped the scales, with Haftar’s advance towards Tripoli becoming ever closer in early 2020.

When the GNA risked falling, Ankara stepped in, providing military backing to a government the international community had spared no words in backing while doing precious little in practice. Turkey’s military intervention flipped military fortunes and created that mutually hurting stalemate that brought the parties to an uneasy ceasefire in the summer of 2020. Turkey remains deeply involved militarily in Libya, and Russia’s military presence in the east, from being a “nice but not necessary” tool to deploy, is now entrenched. Notwithstanding the ongoing political dialogue process, Libya risks partitioning militarily along the Sirte-Jufra line, with both Turkish and Russian presence consolidating in the country.

The resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan after twenty-six years of unstable ceasefire around Nagorno Karakakh and its adjacent regions became the third potential Turkish-Russian flashpoint that never was. When Azerbaijan kick-started the war to recapture the territories lost to Armenia in the 1992-94 war, much of the international media spotlight turned to Ankara.

Turkey, in fact, was the only external power that did not call for a ceasefire, but rather egged Baku on in its military campaign. There was much talk of Turkey’s drones and Syrian jihadis, the role of which was likely overplayed, but nonetheless significant. For its part, Russia activated itself to broker a ceasefire. While repeatedly stepping in to mediate humanitarian ceasefires, it implicitly allowed the war to rage on for six long weeks, in which Azerbaijan gradually recaptured much of the seven regions surrounding Nagorno Karabakh. It was only when Azerbaijani forces made inroads into Karabakh itself, that Moscow blew the whistle.

The peace deal brokered by Moscow was an all-out win for Russia, as well as Azerbaijan. Along the line of contact in Nagorno Karabakh and the Lachin corridor, a contingent of almost 2000 Russian troops are being deployed for the first time since the end of the Cold War. This gives Russia not only unprecedented leverage over the constitutional fate of Nagorno Karabakh, but also over domestic politics in Azerbaijan and above all Armenia. However, to a lesser extent Turkey gained too. Ankara for the first time won the possibility of sending observers to the region, and, most significantly, with the reopening of a direct connection between Azerbaijan and its exclave Nakhichevan, Turkey obtained direct access to Azerbaijan proper and the Caspian Sea.

In each of these conflicts, Turkey, a NATO ally and, at least theoretically, an EU candidate country, has pursued incontrovertibly its national and often nationalistic interests. It has done so in ways that have certainly not coincided with those of the European Union or of the United States. However, it would be mistaken to argue that Turkey’s interests have been diametrically opposed to those of the West.

In Syria, Turkey’s assault on the Syrian Kurds generated a Western outcry – in words rather than deeds – while its ambiguity towards and support for different incarnations of the Islamist opposition to the Syrian regime sowed mistrust, notably at the height of the ISIS threat in the Middle East, Europe and the world. However, Turkey, unlike Russia and Iran, and alongside the West, has been a sworn enemy of the Syrian regime, ever since the protests degenerated into civil war in late 2011. In the reconstruction and refugee return phase of the Syrian conflict, the EU and Turkey will grapple with similar policy challenges.

In Libya too, Turkey has clearly pursued its interests and is now consolidating its military, political and economic presence in the country. In Libya, Turkey is there to stay. Yet there too, Western and Turkish interests are not totally incompatible. Ankara stepped into the war to prevent the fall of Sarraj’s GNA that Europe and the US also backed in theory. Both Turkey and the EU have an interest in the stabilization of Libya and the prevention of its de facto partition into two blocks.

Finally, in Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey has certainly sung from a different hymn sheet from the Western cry for an immediate ceasefire. However, no European country nor the US has ever objected to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Furthermore, Turkey’s inclusion amongst the observers in Nagorno Karabakh should be looked upon with favour by Europeans in a context in which the OSCE Minsk Group has been sadly outmaneuvered and Russia would otherwise monopolize the show.

Notwithstanding the fact that divisions between Turkey and Russia are infinitely more tangible and acute than those between Turkey and the West, relations between Turkey and Russia are consolidating into a de facto partnership, while those between Turkey and the West are edging towards sanctions. Why?

The easy part of the answer lies in domestic politics in Russia and Turkey. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has long abandoned even the narrative of democracy, heralding itself as one of the leaders of a post-liberal world. The Russian President has used foreign policy to gain strategic edge over the West, and stoke nationalism at home, distracting public attention from domestic woes. Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan has taken Putin’s cue, and over the last year, has regained some domestic political traction after the Justice and Development Party’s electoral annus horribilis in 2019.

By intervening militarily in Libya, escalating tensions in the East Mediterranean and reentering the Caucasus, Erdoğan has done what many, if not most, Turks would read as a welcome reassertion of national interests redressing past wrongs. In doing so, Erdoğan has distracted public opinion from his ailing domestic economy. In other words, Russia and Turkey’s leaders pursue similar tactics: they “get each other” and that understanding instils a degree of reciprocal respect even when interests diverge.

There is certainly truth is this explanation, which is the one most commonly heard in the West. However, it is also a convenient truth for the West to put forth, leaving in the shadow another, complementary, but far more uncomfortable reality.

Another explanation is that Russia and Turkey have found pragmatic ententes because they have had to do so. They are both deeply engaged in each of these conflicts in a way in which Europeans and Americans are just not. Turkey and Russia are far more prone to intervene militarily in conflicts than Europeans always were and Americans are becoming.

More broadly, be it in Syria, Libya or the Caucasus, the US and the EU have abdicated much of their responsibilities and shied away from risk. In the vacuum, Russia, Turkey and other regional players, have stepped in, learning to come to terms with one another. The US, for its part, can retort with good reason that this is not the part of the world where it will do the heavy lifting. We should expect that in different forms and manners, this will continue to be the tune played by the Biden administration.

Europeans instead have only themselves to blame. It is may well be too late for Syria and probably also for the Caucasus. However, when it comes to Libya, Europeans should do much more. Germany has invested significantly in the Berlin process, and diplomacy is certainly a key piece of the peacebuilding puzzle. But unless Europeans take greater risks to consolidate peace on the ground in Libya – and not simply at sea – they will continue to be passive by-standers of the de facto external control of the country by Turkey and Russia. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, Europeans should engage far more actively in peacebuilding, with greater readiness to be present on the ground.

While taking greater risk and responsibility, Europeans should think through a strategy that makes due distinction between Turkey and Russia, avoiding further entrenchment of the unnatural partnership between the two, from which Europeans and Americans can only lose. In particular, we should not be blinded by the commonalities we see between Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey domestically, and become better able to distinguish between their foreign policy behaviour.

On foreign policy, Russian and Turkish positions and ambitions differ in important ways. Beyond annexing Crimea and upending the European security architecture, Putin’s Russia vies for leadership of a sovereignist world. In no way does it see itself as part of the West, and is often scathing of the alleged ineffectiveness, cowardice, arrogance and moral bankruptcy of Western liberal democracies. Russia has acted to the direct detriment of Western democracies by interfering in electoral processes, spreading disinformation and allegedly engaging in cyber-attacks. We should of course “selectively engage” with Russia, but with eyes wide open as to the context in which our engagement takes place.

Turkey, for all its faults, not only is and remains a NATO ally, but continues to express an interest in closer relations with the European Union, beginning with a modernized customs union. Ankara’s sincerity would need to be verified, but to do so it is the Union that must make the first move. Likewise, the EU and the US should actively seek opportunities to work with Turkey on foreign policy questions on which interests do not fundamentally diverge. With Syria and Nagorno Karabakh further away from Western reach, Libya would be the place to start. The space for manoeuvre, here too, is shrinking fast. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, time will be of the essence.

All this does not imply that the EU and the US should stay put and refrain from using the stick with Turkey as the case may warrant. Be it over the S400 debacle with NATO or Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the threat of restrictive measures will remain on the table. Less still does it mean that the EU and the US should drop the ball on Turkey’s democratic backsliding. With an administration in Washington that will once again take genuine interest in democracy, human rights, rule of law, a renewed transatlantic focus on Turkey’s domestic dynamics is imperative.

However, in addressing whether, when and how to react to Turkey’s foreign policy moves, Europe and the US should factor in the broader strategic context in which we operate. The purpose of our actions should be to peel Ankara away from Moscow, rather than push it deeper in its embrace.

* Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen.

Visits: 290

Another Turning Point in the EU and Turkey Relations?

On 10-11 December, the leaders of the EU countries come together in Brussels last time in
this chaotical year. In addition to the fight against COVID 19 pandemic and EU-UK relations,
the tension between Turkey and two EU member states, Greece and Cyprus, in the Eastern
The Mediterranean will be one of the main discussion topics.
In the previous Council meeting of the EU in October, the EU leaders declared their full
solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, while the sanction calls against Turkey did not find
unanimous support within the Council. At the same time, the EU also tried to keep the
dialogue with Turkey by launching a positive political EU-Turkey agenda, which includes an
international conference for the Eastern Mediterranean, updating the Customs Union
an agreement, the revival of visa liberalization negotiations, and the renewal of the migration
agreement.
Nevertheless, European sanctions against Turkey seem right now more likely than ever.
Above all, Greece and Cyprus insist on though EU sanctions as Turkey’s natural gas
explorations still continues in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean waters. Foreign Minister
of Greece, Nikos Dendias, described Turkey’s actions in the region as "revisionist" and
"destabilizing" and he is also sure that this time " it will not be easy for Turkey to fool the
EU; Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron pushes for sanctions on Turkey. The
dispute between France and Turkey over Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and the
Nagorno-Karabakh War has seriously deteriorated the mutual relations in the past couple of
months. According to French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Turkey’s; soothing
declarations; are not good enough to overcome these disagreements. Finally, the European
Parliament has recently called for the Council to impose tough sanctions on Turkey as well.
In the meantime, Turkey showed some positive steps on the eve of the EU council meeting.
First, President Erdoğan declared his intentions to work with the EU by stating that; We see
ourselves as an inseparable part of Europe and we want to build our future with Europe; these words have arguably been the clearest message to the EU in recent years. Second,
ahead of the EU summit, Turkey withdrew its seismic research vessel, Oruç Reis. Third, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Advisor to President, İbrahim Kalın, visited Brussels in the last days of November. During his meeting with high-level EU officials, he expressed once again that working with the EU is a strategic priority for Ankara and added Turkey still aims
to protect peace and stability in the region.

Like the previous meeting, the most critical actor in the process will be Germany. In October,
Germany, which holds the rotating Council presidency, opposed sanctions and initiated the
positive agenda strategy. However, more recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that
the relations between the EU and Turkey did not reach the point that they wanted. Also, she
described Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean as; aggressive; and; provocative; In the meantime, she mentioned that Turkey deserved great respect for hosting significant numbers of Syrian refugees.
In this situation, the most crucial question remains still the same: Will the EU impose
sanctions on Turkey? Actually, the answer is still not clear. On the one hand, France, Greece, and Cyprus will probably find this time more support from the other EU members, as there is no sign of progress about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and it can easily get out of control. On the other hand, as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep
Borrell stated that there are some willing and at the same time still more reluctant EU
countries about sanctions on Turkey. The diplomatic sources said especially Hungary is
Repeatedly rejecting possible sanctions by thinking of Turkey’s role in preventing illegal refugee
passages to the EU. Moreover, Spain and Italy seem not so contended about France’s increasing activities in the Mediterranean.
Then what we should wait for this critical meeting?
It seems that German decision-makers have still not decided on their next steps. That means
it is not very likely to see tough sanctions on Turkey as Greece, Cyprus, and France wanted.
Instead, we see probably a; last strong warning" from the EU to Turkey or a limited package
of sanctions. Without a doubt, both sides will try to strengthen their positions until the last
minute, and Chancellor Merkel will play once again a decisive role.

 

Dr.Başar Şirin

Visits: 107

The EU’s “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” is missing a true foundation

On September 23, the European Commission launched the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum,” proposing to overhaul the European Union’s long ailing policies in this area. European Union Vice President Margaritis Schinas likened the pact to a building with three floors, comprised of: an external dimension (“centered around strengthened partnerships with countries of origin and transit”), “robust management” of external borders, and “firm but fair internal rules.” The commission proposal must still make its way through the legislative process in the European Parliament and European Council.
The problem is: The pact needs a foundational basement, in the form of recognizing that an overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries. Without a basement, the whole edifice is undermined. The EU must incorporate policy ideas from the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) to rectify this.

THE NEW PACT’S THREE FLOORS
The pact’s external dimension — which calls for strengthening partnerships with countries of origin and transit in the EU’s immediate neighborhood and beyond — is its ground floor. The second floor relates to policies to fortify and improve the management of the EU’s external borders. The third floor proposes rules to resolve the long-standing challenge within the EU to achieve a more balanced distribution of responsibilities and promote solidarity among EU members in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees.

At all three levels, the pact has faced intense push-back. With respect to the third floor, the commission has been criticized for catering to the priorities of the more conservative and anti-immigrant member states such as Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The pact allows members to opt out from participating in the relocation of asylum seekers and refugees within the EU by offering them the possibility to instead provide administrative and financial support to other member states. Serious doubts have been expressed about the viability of this scheme.

On the second floor, the big concern is that — once again — border security has been prioritized over access to asylum. While emphasizing the principle of “non-refoulement” as enshrined in international refugee law, the pact at the same time introduces measures that are clearly meant to complicate the possibility that individuals fleeing persecution and conflicts can seek or obtain protection in the EU. A former director of the Center for Refugees Studies of Oxford University sees these measures as aiming “to harden and formalize the ‘Fortress Europe.’ Migrants and refugees were to be kept out of Europe at all costs.”

The emphasis on protecting Europe’s borders becomes most evident at the ground floor. Here the pact calls for revamping partnership with third countries and reflects the EU’s long-standing policy of externalizing the cost and responsibility of managing its external borders. Tying policy issues such as development assistance, trade concessions, security, education, agriculture, and visa facilitation for third-country nationals to those countries’ willingness to cooperate on migration management has long been criticized as asymmetrical. The pact takes this relationship to a new coercive level by suggesting the possibility of “apply[ing] restrictive visa measures” to third countries unwilling to be cooperative.

Time will tell whether these problems on each floor will be addressed as the commission proposal makes its way through the legislative process. However, there is a deeper structural problem to the pact, resulting from the missing basement. This is because the pact fails to account for two major global realities confronting the EU.

THE MISSING BASEMENT
The first problem is that the pact is so inward-oriented that it fails to recognize the policy implications of the dire state of forced migration globally. The number of forcibly displaced persons has increased dramatically, reaching almost 80 million. According to the U.N. Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of refugees alone has gone up from roughly 15 million a decade ago to 26 million today. And 77% of the refugees find themselves in a protracted situation — defined as having remained displaced without a durable solution (such as voluntary return to their home countries following the resolution of conflicts, resettlement, or local integration) for more than five years. Because of persistent conflicts, only 3.9 million refugees were able to return to their homes between 2010 and 2019, compared to roughly 10 million between 2000 and 2010 and 15.3 million in the 1990s.

The Consequences of Chaos

By Elizabeth G. Ferris and Kemal Kirişci 2016
Secondly, the pact makes little allowance for how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact EU’s migration and asylum policies. The pandemic has profoundly affected the capacity of host countries to manage the presence of refugees and ensure their protection. Already fragile health infrastructures are stretched in helping local populations, let alone refugees. The pandemic has also eroded income from trade, tourism, and crucial revenue from remittances. The pact should recognize the dire forced migration picture, the impact of COVID-19, and the associated expected rise in poverty. The Economist and the U.N. have noted that the pandemic risks undoing the gains made against poverty in the past two decades. Most affected will be developing countries, according to the World Bank, where more than 85% of these refugees are hosted.

This picture is likely to erode the capacity of these countries to cope with the presence of refugees and manage public resentment as competition for scarce resources between refugees and locals intensifies. Under these circumstances it would not be unrealistic to expect pressures for secondary movements towards the EU to build up, reminiscent of the ones that occurred during 2015 and 2016. The EU has an interest in recognizing the reality presented by the basement floor, and should supplement policies on the first floor and above accordingly.

IMPROVING THE PACT WITH HELP FROM THE GCR
The pact hardly makes any reference to the GCR, as a former UNHCR official points out, but it could be an inspiring source of policy ideas. The idea of the GCR emerged from the September 2016 U.N. summit in New York that was held to address the challenges resulting from the European migration crisis. Adopted in December 2018, the GCR recognizes that the traditional refugee protection system based on the 1951 Geneva Convention is under duress, if not broken. Against this reality, it calls on the international community to work together — in the spirit of burden- and responsibility-sharing — to improve the self-reliance of refugees and the resilience of their host communities, as well as help hosts transform refugees from being a humanitarian burden to a development and economic opportunity. All EU member countries, apart from Hungary, have endorsed the GCR.

Though the pact fails to acknowledge the GCR, Vice President Schinas promises to seek “global solutions and responsibility-sharing” with international partners on migration, as well as proposes to establish a “Union Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Framework Regulation [that] would provide a stable EU framework for the EU contribution to global resettlement efforts.” These reflect at least the spirit of the GCR. However, the EU needs to go beyond this, and heed to the GCR’s call to “promote economic opportunities, decent work, job creation and entrepreneurship programs for host community members and refugees” in refugee hosting countries. Only than can the EU enjoy a solid basement floor for the rest of the pact.

ARRIVING AT A WIN-WIN-WIN OUTCOME ON THE FIRST FLOOR
The GCR offers a rich array of innovative policy suggestions that the EU can take into consideration when negotiating partnerships with countries hosting large numbers of refugees. One such policy idea calls for a more active involvement of the private sector in supporting self-reliance of refugees through decent and sustainable employment. In its partnership agreements, the EU could include terms incentivizing companies to offer such opportunities for refugees. This could be enabled by extending preferential trade arrangements for countries hosting large numbers of refugees, which is something the GCR mentions. Such partnerships with the EU could be conditioned to refugees being offered sustainable employment opportunities.

The advantage of all this is that the resulting economic growth would also benefit host communities, support social cohesion, and help empower already fragile economies coming out of a COVID-19-induced economic recession. It would also give the partnerships that the EU is advocating for at the ground floor of the pact a much more solid foundation, based on a cooperative spirit rather than the current formulation. In this way, the New Pact would help create a win-win-win outcome benefiting refugees, host countries, and the EU.

This article is received from www.brookings.edu

This article is written by Kemal Kirişçi, M.Murat Erdoğan and Nihal Eminoğlu

Visits: 130

Nagorno Karabakh conflict and EU-Turkey relations: Options ahead

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s demands to include Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh solution process should be taken seriously by the EU, so as to provide a fresh start to cooperation with Turkey.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which was ignited by Armenia’s adventurist territorial claims against the sovereignty of Azerbaijan, began in the late-1980s. It comes as no surprise that Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia, remains firm in his rights-refusing attitude against the Azerbaijani people. Turkey, as one of the most stable countries in the region, invariably stands by the Republic of Azerbaijan and the dignified citizens of Azerbaijan. Turkey’s resolution to relieve the outstanding problems emanating from the illegal Armenian occupation in 1993 remains unabated. Although Turkey’s status as a reliable interlocutor and strategic partner for the Southern Caucasus countries has already been emphasized in many media outlets, Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a European Union (EU) candidate country as well as the influence of the Turkish stance in this conflict on EU-Turkey relations are yet to be addressed.

Legal insights into the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

As noted, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been on the agenda of the regional countries, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, since the 1980s. First and foremost, the main legal instrument that must be considered is the constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Article 78 of the Constitution clearly stipulates a mutual agreement between Soviet republics for altering the borders between them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan notes that this provision was also incorporated into the constitutions of the then Soviet Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The judgment of the Supreme Council of the USSR (1988) is also highlighted by the Ministry.

Following its blatant violations of the Constitution of the USSR, Armenia attempted to legalize the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh and illegally declared the so-called “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh” in the territories of Azerbaijan. This action is undoubtedly illegal and illegitimate because, once again, it is a clear violation of the Constitution of the USSR. Regarding the existing public international law framework, it should be noted that the legal and political notion of “territorial integrity” overweighs the right to self-determination, and self-determination (right of secession) does not constitute a rule of customary international law, which is one of the primary sources of international law. Indeed, a possible declaration of independence in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region was not based upon a natural right and peremptory norm stemming from international law, yet it could have been possible had a referendum been held under transparent conditions in accordance with the aforementioned constitutions.

Ever since the dissolution of the USSR, the just cause of the Azerbaijani people has been orchestrated through an astute diplomacy, thanks to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884. What these resolutions affirm is the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the groundlessness of the Armenian secessionist claims. Assoc. Prof. Cavid Abdullahzade, a scholar of international law at Ankara University, defines Armenia’s violation of international law and international humanitarian law as a “continuous crime”, which is a notion used to define crimes consisting of continuous series of acts and offenses. [1] Since the late-1980s, Armenia has been attempting to legalize its occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Bearing in mind the recent armed attacks on civilian targets in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja and in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which constitute crimes against humanity, we can safely assert that the Armenian officials have once again demonstrated that they will never shy away from committing continuous crimes against humanity.

Turkey: A Brother of Azerbaijan and an EU-candidate country

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey has been aiming to strengthen the independence and sovereignty of the countries in the Southern Caucasus, namely Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. It would not be wrong to say that Turkey’s deep-rooted historical and cultural ties with the region enhances the spirit of regional cooperation. As the first country to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan in 1991 and a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, Turkey stands by the righteous party, Azerbaijan, whose rightfulness has been repeatedly affirmed by the UNSC Resolutions. Undoubtedly, the unwavering solidarity and brotherly relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan sheds light on the settlement of the dispute through peaceful means.

Interestingly, setting aside its decades-old political and legal confrontations with Armenia, Turkey was also one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Armenia in 1991. Although this diplomatic gesture is generally attributed to Turkey’s perpetual pursuit of peaceful settlements in the Southern Caucasus, Turkey’s foreign policy preferences prioritizing Armenia’s integration with regional and Euro-Atlantic organizations, such as the EU, prevails in this respect. Turkey’s invitation for Armenia to join the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) as a founding member is an example of a constructive effort crystallizing Turkey’s European and Western integration agenda from a different point of view. Furthermore, with a view to normalizing its bilateral relations with Armenia, Turkey drew particular attention to the Zurich Protocols signed between the two parties in 2009. Yet, it ought to be stressed that Armenia, unfortunately, spurned the bona fide endeavors to normalize relations, by suspending the ratification process of the protocols.

Notwithstanding Armenia’s irrational foreign policy choices, the EU must consider Turkey’s strong commitment to support the European and Western integration processes of the countries in the Southern Caucasus, including Armenia. If embraced, this well-established perception would possibly actualize the “win-win strategy” offered by Turkey, in order to maintain European peace and stability. The Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy may constitute the backbone of this strategy.

Options ahead

The EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) was established to ensure Europe’s security through initiating several missions. Briefly, the CSDP is based on a trilateral problem-solving mechanism: crisis prevention, crisis management and rehabilitation. Although currently the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not on the agenda of the CSDP of the EU, the fragile security environment in the region continues to threaten the European security and the Union may launch necessary initiatives to deploy CSDP instruments to Nagorno-Karabakh.

In this respect, the EU’s imminent CSDP mission in Nagorno-Karabakh will not bear its fruits unless Turkey is involved in the said mission. Turkey, as a European NATO ally, continued its support to the CSDP in its prior and ongoing missions in accordance with its accession process and its strategic ends to preserve European security. Recalling Prof. Huseyin Bagci, a scholar of international relations at the Middle East Technical University, and Ugo Gaudino’s statements on the CSDP missions in the Balkans [2], some Western countries would reap benefits from Turkish contributions to the CSDP missions. Regarding the possibility of a CSDP mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, the EU should consider Turkey’s capacity to ensure stability. Paying regard to Turkey’s aim of establishing a common area of prosperity in the region, the Union must involve Turkey in its CSDP missions more. But before this, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s demands to include Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh solution process should be taken seriously by the EU, so as to provide a fresh start to cooperation with Turkey.

The opinion is taken from www.aa.com.tr

Writer: Deniz Ünsal

[ The writer is a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International and Comparative Law candidate at Trinity College Dublin. He is a 2019-2020 European Union (EU) Jean Monnet scholar. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in law and minor degree in political science from Bilkent University. His main focus areas are Turkey-EU relations, Eastern Mediterranean and contemporary debates in Turkish foreign policy. He has a special interest in public international law, EU law and Late-Ottoman era legal-political developments. ]

 
[1] Cavid Abdullahzade, ‘Ermenistan-Azerbaycan Dağlık Karabağ İhtilafı: Bölgesel Barış ve Güvenliğe ve Komşuluk İlişkilerine Bir Tehdit’ (2014) Avrasya İncelemeleri Merkezi [40].

[2] Huseyin Bagci and Ugo Gaudino, ‘Involving Turkey in EU Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policies’ (2020) Eurasian Research Journal [9]

Visits: 325

Statement of European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell: The Old Empires Are Coming Back

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep
Borrell Frontelles made a speech at the European Parliament on 15 September. The EU’s

Foreign affairs chief, Mr.Borrell made a statement concerning the Eastern Mediterranean and
Turkey’s foreign relations at the meeting of the European Parliament. In his speech, he said,
“The old empires are coming back. Three of them are Russia, China and Turkey. These are
the great empires of the past. And Turkey is one of these elements. This situation offers a new
environment for us … ”
In recent months, Turkey has increased oil and gas exploration activities in the Aegean-
Eastern Mediterranean. This case has led to strong reactions especially  from Greece and
Cyprus. EU foreign affairs chief, Borrell, reported that Turkey has been attempting to revive
the empire considering Turkey’s policy towards Libya and Syria.
Mr. Josep Borrell’s other relevant remarks regarding Turkey are as follows: “Turkey is an
important neighbor for EU. We can’t change the geography and Turkey will continue to be
partners on many important issues, including immigration. For example, we know that
immigration flow is difficult without the help of Turkey. However, Turkey’s actions create a
question mark for the future of our relations and the urgent need to find answers to these
questions.”

This article is written by Hülya Yıldırım

Visits: 1242

21st September EU Council

On September 21st 2020, the day has been addressed many issues in the actual European
Commission in Brussels: Belarusian crisis, Turkey Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela,
Libya civil war, the European Union-China relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the
European Union, and African Relations.
The election was lived on 9th August 2020 in Belarus, and it has been demonstrated that
there was a fraud in the elections and that Alexandr Lukashenko did not receive 80 percent of
the votes and accordingly the EU did not recognize his legitimacy. Also, the President of the
European Parliament, David Sassoli invited Tikhanovskaya (strong opposition leader in
Belarus) to this Council in Brussels. At the end of the meeting between the two, Sassoli
requested the release of those detained in the demonstrations. In addition to this, Borell, the
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Relations and Security Policies, will stand by the
EU in determining Belarus’ destiny; however, he stated that no sanctions can be imposed at
the moment due to the obstacle by Southern Cyprus. According to Southern Cyprus, Turkey
has to be punished by the EU because of the Eastern Mediterranean issue. On the other hand,
at the end of the conference, taking further steps to de-escalate to Turkey was said on that
issue.
When the current events were examined, there was a speech about the results of the last
meeting of Venezuela and the International Contact Group, and the ministers agreed that the
international community should mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and
democratic solution to the ongoing crisis and to meet the immediate needs of the population.
Moreover, the sanctions imposed on the Head of the House of Representatives in Tobruk,
Akile Lakih, and Nuri Ebu Sehmen on Libya were lifted, and it was decided to impose
sanctions on companies that violate the arms embargo by sending arms from Turkey, Jordan,
and Kazakhstan to Libya.
Ministers of the EU Council was informed about the EU-China Leaders Conference held on
September 14, focusing on the progress of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement
negotiations and the human rights situation by the High Representative. Moreover, on the
Russian issue, it was said that an urgent international investigation, in full transparency and
cooperation, was needed to poison High Representative Navalny and the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In addition to these, for the difficult situation that occurred
as a result of the earthquake in Beirut, the needs of the people in Lebanon and the speedy

formation of a new government was talked. Lastly, the EU made discussions on developing
economic and political relations with Africa in the medium and long term. As a result of this
interview, it was stated that strategic priorities should be determined for the 10-year European
Union-Africa Union.
To sum up, in the 21st September 2020 EU Council meeting Belarusian crisis, Turkey
Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela, Libya civil war, the European Union-China
relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the European Union, and the African Relations were
discussed. The results of this discussion can be summarized like that: they could not get a
decision on the Belarus crisis, because of Southern Cyprus’ veto, Turkey was warned for
taking further steps to de-escalate, ministers agreed that the international community should
mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and democratic solution for
Venezuela, because of supporting weapons to Libya, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Jordan got
sanctions; Comprehensive Investment Agreement negotiations and the human rights situation
between the EU and China were told; there will be opened an investigation for poison High
Representative Navalny; because of the Beirut earthquake, people’s need will be supplied in
Lebanon; and the EU and Africa will develop their relations through economically and politically.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 359

LIFTING EMBARGO ON THE SOUTHERN CYPRUS BY THE USA

Cyprus has a significant part in history at any time for many countries, such as Greece,
Ottoman, England. When we look at the beginning of the 1900s, we see the increase of the
England effect in there after the Ottoman’s power decrease. Also, in the 1930s, Enosis came
to the fore and it was used to mean the “attachment of the island of Cyprus, which was under
the administration of the United Kingdom, to Greece”. With this Greece began to be more
active in Cyprus, and this was not good for neither Turkey nor the United Kingdom. In these
years the war was lived. In the 1950s, the choice of having two governments and two
nationalities with a border on the island was accepted, but also the negotiation plans were
talked. However, this did not continue in a long way. Moreover, the right of the Turkish
minority was crushed, and in 1974 Turkey organized an operation on Cyprus. This was not
seen as the right behavior by other countries. Moreover, after Turkey intervened in Cyprus in
1974, the USA put an embargo on Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and
that situation had continued until Jimmy Carter lifted it in 1977. Then, in 1987 the USA put
an embargo on all of Cyprus in order to a peaceful environment in Cyprus, and good relations
between Greeks and Turkish minorities.
According to today’s news, the USA lift embargo from “only” Southern Cyprus on the 1st
of September 2020. Moreover, that decision will come into force on the 1st of October. What
did change during this time? Why the USA chose just the Southern part when Greece and
Turkey have problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in these days. From the 1990s, the USA
and Southern Cyprus does not have strict relations, and the USA just contributes negotiations
of the Northern and Southern parts of Cyprus. However, after Greece’s voices on the rights of
the Mediterranean Sea increases at the end of June 2020, the USA got the meetings with not
only Greece but also Southern Cyprus. Moreover, the United States Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo said that “the relations of the USA with Southern Cyprus will improve”.s Namely,
the problem in Eastern Mediterranean resulted in occurring good relations between the USA
and Southern Cyprus.
The lifting of the embargo resulted in opposition to the USA and Turkey after fifty-six
years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey said it was to ignore equality and balance
between the two peoples on the island. In other words, this decision will adversely affect
efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. Also, these days when efforts are being made to reduce
tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, the USA’s signing of such a decision that poisons the

peace and stability environment in the region, this situation can not be seen as compatible
with the spirit of alliance. This led to a break down of the relation with the USA, and Turkey,
as a guarantor country, so that the appropriate legal and historical responsibility to guarantee
the security of the Turkish Cypriot people will take the necessary steps it will take
determination. Also, Northern Cyprus defends that lifting the embargo will not contribute to
peace, but the conflict of the Greek side. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus’s President
Nicos Anastasiades got pleasure about lifting the embargo and getting improvement relations
with the USA. Also, US officials told the Greek press that lifting the embargo is independent
of the agenda in the Eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, it was emphasized that lifting the
embargo will only apply to non-lethal weapons, and this attempt will continue “just” a year.
However, either just being a year or related to non-lethal weapons this will affect the balance
of power of the Southern and Northern Cyprus.
To sum up, in a manner of today’s Cyprus issue has continued between Greece and Turkey
since the 1930s. In addition, the USA put an embargo firstly Turkey in 1974, Cyprus Peace
Operation, then the USA gave up the embargo on Turkey in 1977. Moreover, in 1987
embargo on not only Northern but also Southern was put by the USA. Also, up to 1st
September 2020, this situation was continued. On that date, the USA repealed the embargo
“just” on Southern Cyprus, although there is a critical situation in the Eastern Mediterranean
between Turkey and Greece today. Because of that Turkey got much more worries about the
balance of power and on the Northern Cyprus citizens. On the other hand, Southern Cyprus
have pleasure, and according to the Mike Pompeo lifting embargo is not related to the Eastern
Mediterranean issue, and this will not affect Northern and Southern Cyprus negotiation about
the unification decision for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.

 

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 425

Turkey-EU relations: What is the Matter?

 

Throughout the years, Turkey’s relations with the European Union has had
fluctuations, and it has been the nature of all human-involved relationships. However, in the
last 24 years, it might be right to say that it is only getting worse. Özdem Sanberk (R.
Ambassador), in his online article, classified problems as tensions with Greece, the European
Union’s unnecessary attitude towards Turkey, and lack of empathy as well as a compromise
not coming from both sides. Even it is possible to widen the causes of decremental
characteristics of the relation between Turkey and the EU, this essay aims to stay in the
predetermined frame provided by former Ambassador Sanberk.
Turkey’s application to the Union is dating back to 40 years. Even though, the
membership application had been reflected as a progressive one, considering the long time
and rare improvements: This process is not an advancing one. On the one hand, Customs
Union is an achievement for both sides, belongs to the 24 years ago, and on the other,
promised membership status had never been acquired by Turkey.
Greek Cypriots’ application, many years after Turkey’s, was admitted despite “they
rejected the UN and EU peace proposals in a referendum” (Sanberk, 2020). Moreover, there
was not a made-agreement on the divided island accordingly. Since then, Greece has acquired
the full-member status and use its ‘veto right’ against Turkey continuously.
Whilst Greece membership creating one of the causes of tension between Turkey and
Greece, the second one is perceived as arbitrary map designs coming from Greece on the
issues such as seabed issue and exclusion of Turkey in energy agreements according to
Sanberk (2020). According to Greece-made maps, Turkey’s seabed rights are narrowed as if
it is a ‘narrow strip’ along the southern coasts, which is an unsubstantial design on the
Turkish side.
In addition to the former issue, exclusion of Turkey from energy trades taking part in
the eastern Mediterranean is no better for Turkey. This thought blockade towards Turkey is
quite hostile and not logical. Sanberk (2020) argues that gas line passing through Turkey “
would be the cheapest and most effective route” whereas the planned alternatives such as
‘EastMed’ -for gas- and ‘EuroAsia Interconnector’ -for electricity- would extract Turkey
from the route could be the “by far longest coastline” (Sanberk, 2020).
The bigger picture and the main issue here is the contribution of the European Union
on each topic. Neutral years of EU on the political developments between Turkey and Greece
were stated as the 1950s and ’60s. After Greece’s full membership on January 1st,1981
transformed the EU’s attitude towards Turkey negative and being against Turkey namely
every situation took place. Acting with the assumption of “community solidarity” and
presumed supremacy – as Merkel did in her latest statement about eastern Mediterranean-,
European Union provoked “consequences could be with us for centuries” (Sanberk, 2020).
As for the unimaginable seabed rights and blockade over energy issues, the EU again stood

up for Greece by denigrating Turkey’s noncompliance with given issues. This fairly “single-
sided exclusionary policy of EU” received Turkey’s angry reaction naturally.

What can be done is extracting tensions between Greece and Turkey by negotiating
in a peaceful and compromising attitude for both sides, and the Union should reward a
conciliatory manner while punishing otherwise (Sanberk, 2020). Trade negotiations and visa
conditions must be enhanced and practiced. Turkey’s criticized recent policies should be
rethought with an “act of empathy” and responded accordingly. Turkey also should not burn
the bridges between her and the EU, and continue to improve herself in every branch both
domestically and internationally, to become one of the developed countries.

 

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 562

The old transatlantic relationship ain’t coming back

This article written by Paul Taylor

Even if Joe Biden replaces Donald Trump as US president, Europe will have to learn to carry its share of the burden.

With those four words, uttered at the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Joe Biden warmed the hearts of Europeans despairing at the erratic, indifferent and at times openly hostile foreign policy of U.S. President Donald Trump.

But even if the Democratic presidential contender wins the election (an increasingly likely “if” should Biden prove able to maintain his advantage in the polls), it’ll take more than warm feelings to get the transatlantic relationship back on track.

With or without a reliable partner in the White House, the European Union and Europe’s leading powers will have to learn to live in a world in which Washington may still be the ultimate guarantor of the Continent’s security, but won’t have the bandwidth to fix all the region’s many problems. And in which they will be required to do more to prove the utility of the transatlantic partnership.

Like Trump, Biden will expect Europe and NATO to carry more of the security burden in the Middle East.

“We can’t just wait till Biden arrives. We need to have a plan,” says David O’Sullivan, who was the EU’s ambassador to Washington until last year. “What’s our offer? The United States is our indispensable partner for the foreseeable future. It is in our interest to bolster American leadership rather than undermine it. What price are we prepared to pay to achieve a balanced agenda?”

In his speech in Munich, Biden called for a reform of NATO to meet threats unique to the 21st century and promised “serious coordination and consensus-building.” In recent speeches and articles, he has vowed to return on “day one” of his presidency to the Paris accord on fighting climate change and to the World Health Organization. He has also pledged to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal torn up by Trump if Tehran resumes full compliance, and to reaffirm unequivocally NATO’s mutual defense clause.
All that will be welcome news to European policymakers looking to rebuild one of the most successful partnerships in history and respond to global challenges alongside the U.S., instead of reacting defensively to pre-dawn Twitter storms from the irascible tweeter-in-chief.

But while a Democratic administration in Washington can be expected to consult allies more, be more active diplomatically and be more supportive of international institutions, a Biden presidency will not mark a return to the post-World War II era in which Europe could afford to live comfortably under the American umbrella.
Gerard Araud, a former French ambassador to Washington, argues that Trump’s nationalist isolationism is not an aberration. On the contrary, he says it is deeply rooted in historic U.S. suspicion of foreign entanglements. And whoever ends up in the White House in 2021, there will be no return to liberal interventionism or to global American hegemony.

“Trump is following in the footsteps of [former U.S. President Barack] Obama, who understood the exhaustion of the American people with overseas involvements,” Araud wrote in his book “Diplomatic Passport,” published late last year.

“Style matters, and [Trump’s] approach is brutal, unilateral and non-cooperative, but the common thread of a relative disengagement from the international scene is probably irreversible.”
Would a Biden administration be more willing to step in if Turkey used force to press its continental shelf claims in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean? If Lebanon descended into civil strife and famine after the Beirut port catastrophe, prompting a flood of refugees? If the proxy war in Libya pitting the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia against Turkey and Qatar escalated? Or if Russia intervened in Belarus to crush protests following a disputed election?

Washington’s strategic pivot toward East Asia and away from Europe and the Middle East, which began under Obama, entails a permanent redeployment of military power and economic focus in response to China’s accelerating ascent as the main challenger to U.S. global dominance.

Like Trump, Biden will expect Europe and NATO to carry more of the security burden in the Middle East. European governments might be more inclined to help if U.S. policy on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reverted from Trump’s unilateral pursuit of regime change in Tehran and of a peace deal overwhelmingly slanted toward Israel. But whether the Europeans have the means or the political will to tackle any of these challenges is highly doubtful.

The real litmus test of U.S.-European cooperation under a Biden administration is likely to come over China, on which the Europeans are far from united among themselves but are eager to avoid being dragged into a new Cold War by Trump.

Tony Blinken, one of Biden’s senior foreign policy advisers, says how to handle Beijing is the most important question a Democratic president would face.

“There’s no more important relationship in the world than U.S.-China. We have to work together to get it right,” he told a recent Chatham House videoconference. A Biden administration would approach it by working with allies and “showing up in institutions instead of going AWOL.”

Given this new reality, it will take more than hope or wishful thinking, which abound in the corridors of Brussels, to put the transatlantic partnership back in gear. In short, Europe needs to stop treating the U.S. as a protective Big Brother it can always count on to scare away the neighborhood bullies — and more like an equal in a partnership in which both sides carry the burden.

If Biden makes good on his day-one promises, Europeans should be ready to respond with “deliverables” of their own, to borrow the ghastly bureaucratic terminology.

A more self-confident Europe should offer a President Biden a grown-up partnership, but not subservience.

They should offer to work with Washington to reform the World Trade Organization and renew transatlantic trade talks with new flexibility on agriculture and aerospace subsidies if Washington scraps punitive tariffs on EU goods.

European countries, including France, should agree to hold off on implementing digital taxes if the U.S. reengages in a good faith negotiation of corporate taxation principles at the OECD with a fixed deadline. They should also step up their common defense efforts to complement NATO with a stronger European pillar, and get firmer with China by insisting on investment reciprocity and the protection of critical infrastructure and technology.

The EU should also suggest a permanent transatlantic consultative forum on sensitive issues of technology transfer and investment — open to partners such as Canada, Japan and Australia.

In exchange, it should seek a U.S. commitment to forgo the kind of extraterritorial secondary sanctions used by the Trump administration that weaponize the dollar’s dominance of the international payments system to penalize foreign companies accused of breaching U.S. national sanctions against Iran or other targeted countries.

It is not certain that Biden would be willing or able to end this constant irritant in transatlantic ties, which is often spearheaded by Congress. But EU governments should make clear that this is a condition for good faith cooperation among allies in addressing the strategic challenge of China and others.

A more self-confident Europe should offer a President Biden a grown-up partnership, but not subservience. In a dangerous and uncertain world, rebuilding transatlantic ties after Trump’s wrecking spree must be the foundation for the post-COVID recovery, which is the top priority on both sides of the Atlantic.

This article taken from www.politico.eu

Visits: 104

How NATO Can Avoid a Strategic Decoupling in the Eastern Mediterranean

Since an extraordinary naval standoff occurred between French and Turkish warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in early June, Paris and Ankara have been trading increasingly sharp verbal blows over their respective actions in implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya. While this may appear to be just another moment of friction between NATO allies, particularly with Turkey, it is not. This incident represents a more deep-seated strategic dilemma for NATO as well as an increasingly stark divide between the European Union and Turkey.

This strategic dilemma is rooted in Turkey’s new regional foreign and security policy, based in part on its “Blue Homeland” doctrine. The implementation of this doctrine has caused a series of serious incidents that have been observed by Turkey’s allies but fleetingly, if rarely, addressed. Encountering little resistance, Turkey believes its actions to be largely accepted (as some are, such as limiting Russian influence). But the totality of Turkey’s policies and actions have now reached a point of dangerous escalation, which could substantially challenge the coherence of NATO’s collective defense posture in the Mediterranean and weaken its political cohesion. Turkey’s actions threaten to hinder vital NATO-EU cooperation in the region as well.

To avoid this, allies should approach the growing instability in the Mediterranean through an integrative policy that seeks to deescalate tensions and define, with Ankara, common interests by identifying some agreed principles to guide regional behavior. If Turkey is unwilling to join such an initiative, greater transatlantic tensions lie ahead.

Turkey’s Blue Homeland Ambitions
Turkey’s Blue Homeland Doctrine has its origins in a plan drawn up by Turkish admiral Cem Gurdeniz in 2006. It sets out an ambitious goal to underline and expand, through assertive diplomacy and military means, Turkey’s influence in the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas while enabling access to energy and other economic resources. President Erdogan adopted it in 2015 as an integral part of a national strategy of “forward defense” in the context of his sustained drive to assert Turkish independence in all aspects of foreign policy to include influence in its surrounding regions.

Manifestations of the doctrine were on full display during the February 2019 Mavi Vatan (Blue Homeland) exercise, which was the largest combat exercise since the establishment of the Turkish Navy and was conducted simultaneously in the Aegean, Black, and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish government-controlled media described the exercise as a “war rehearsal.” Another example has been Turkey’s assertive energy claims around the disputed Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In February 2018, Turkey sent naval vessels to stop an Italian drilling vessel on its way to drill for gas off Cyprus’ coast. Then in the spring of 2019, Ankara sent ships into Cypriot waters, escorted by the Turkish navy, to conduct its own drilling activities. European Union member states unanimously denounced those “illegal actions,” expressed their support for Cyprus by restricting EU pre-accession aid to Turkey, and suspended negotiations of an air transport agreement. Israel also encountered Turkey’s naval activism when its oceanographic ship, Bat Galim, operating in Cypriot waters in cooperation with Nicosia, was forced out by Turkish warships. Regional tensions reached a new high in November 2019 when Turkey signed an agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord. The agreement defines a maritime border between the two countries in the Mediterranean Sea and permits Turkey to defend Libya’s maritime interests (which extend to six nautical miles from Crete) as well as allowing for joint extraction of energy resources in the Mediterranean.

To date, Turkey has met little resistance from either the European Union, NATO, or the United States in response to its actions, with the exception of harsh words and limited sanctions. Some EU parliamentarians have denounced Ankara’s “gunboat diplomacy,” and EU high representative Borrell released a declaration stating that EU countries are “growing increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey.” EU foreign affairs ministers convened on July 13, asking Ankara to provide “clarifications” on its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and Syria and asking High Representative Borrell to provide options to reinforce the sanctions imposed on Turkey for its gas and oil drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ. Secretary of State Pompeo has called Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters “unacceptable,” yet this is unlikely to be followed by concrete action given that the Trump administration has not yet imposed legally mandated sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

This lack of a holistic and united transatlantic response to Turkey’s naval actions has emboldened Ankara to take further actions, particularly at a time when Erdogan seeks to project independent power abroad and heighten nationalistic sentiment at home to distract the Turkish population from great economic difficulties. The restoration of Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a powerful example of this policy in action coupled with its military interventions in Libya and Syria. Absent international resolution of the Cypriot and Libyan disputes (which are on the cusp of bringing in other powers, such as Egypt and Israel), President Erdogan has (rightly) concluded that Turkey has more to gain by its unilateral use of hard power and reaching its own diplomatic agreements that suits its needs rather than through broader diplomatic engagement and dialogue.

Escalating Tensions with Allies
As Turkey secures its regional interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, it sets itself on a collision course with official EU and NATO operations, which undermines broader regional and international stability. The first major collision occurred in April 2020 when the European Union launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI to implement the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya. Despite a lack of policy unity over Libya, EU countries agreed on a common objective: the importance of preventing further military escalation by taking joint action to enforce the UN embargo. Turkey denounced IRINI as taking one-sided approach to the embargo that focuses only on constraining the Government of National Accord, which Turkey supports. The U.S. State Department seems to agree. Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker sided with the Turkish interpretation, questioning whether the EU mission was “serious,” because it only focused on interdicting Turkish materiel and not preventing Russian military equipment from reaching Libya.

On June 10 2020, Operation IRINI unsuccessfully tried to investigate a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, escorted by Turkish warships and headed toward Libya. The Turkish ships prevented the Greek navy from inspecting the vessel, claiming the cargo was “medical equipment.” Tensions further escalated that same day when the French Navy ship Le Courbet, operating in the Eastern Mediterranean in the framework of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation launched by NATO in 2016 to support maritime situation awareness, counterterrorism, and security capacity building, tried to inspect the same civilian cargo ship. But the Turkish escort intervened again, leading this time to a more aggressive and dangerous incident. According to the French government, Turkish warships turned their fire-control radars on the French warship (the preliminary phase before launching a weapon on a target) and pointed guns at the warship to dissuade any attempts at inspecting the cargo. Ankara rejected these claims, calling them “groundless,” and instead accused the French ship of conducting a “high-speed and dangerous maneuver.” Speaking to reporters in Paris this week, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the United States was “very sympathetic with France” in its dispute with Turkey, and “NATO allies shouldn’t be turning fire control radars on one another.” At France’s request, NATO has launched a formal investigation into the incident, but the results of the investigation have not been released publicly.

The Risk of a Mediterranean Strategic Decoupling
Since the incident, tensions between Turkey and France have escalated as both presidents have used very strong rhetoric against the other. Although it might be tempting to hope that tensions will fade, they are likely to escalate again and have major implications for the European Union, NATO, and the rule of law.

First, tensions have now reached a level where they risk significantly impacting NATO. Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system against the wishes of the United States and its NATO allies, its unilateral military interventions into Syria against Kurdish forces, its frequent military interventions into northern Iraq (its most recent air and ground operation was in mid-June), its violations of Iran (and likely Venezuela) sanctions, its continued probing of Greek airspace, and its recent veto over important NATO plans for the defense of NATO’s eastern flank (which was suddenly lifted days after the naval incident) leads one to conclude that Turkey is increasingly pursuing its national interests over NATO’s collective defense interests. The decision by the United States and other F-35 program partners to remove Turkey from the program (although it continues to contribute to the supply chain) will diminish NATO defenses in general as well as its readiness, interoperability, and effectiveness of NATO’s air defense capabilities. Likewise, the announcement of France’s withdrawal of its forces from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian following the naval incident with Turkey reduces much-needed naval capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean for both the European Union and NATO to jointly enforce the UN arms embargo in Libya.

NATO has always struggled to articulate and deploy forces to protect and defend its southern flank and has devoted too little strategic attention to the Mediterranean over the last few years while powers such as Russia have consistently reinforced their military presence. With a dramatic increase in conflict as well as migration challenges, NATO and the European Union need to be an effective and unified presence in the Mediterranean despite disagreements with Turkey. The European Union relies on NATO intelligence and other support to execute many of its missions, so a diminished NATO also diminishes the European Union.

Absent more focus on the Mediterranean, Ankara and Southern European NATO members may conclude that the alliance has become, de facto, exclusively focused on its eastern flank. These members may see to protect and pursue their own interests in the region as well, modeling Turkey’s behavior of ad hoc arrangements, new regional alignments, and reversible bilateral understandings, thus creating even greater regional instability.

Second, these tensions reveal troubling divergences between Turkey and the European Union. From the EU perspective, Ankara’s aggressive pursuit of energy interests, disregard for the rule of law within Turkey (which should concern NATO as well), and use of migrants to pressure the European Union and destabilize the European neighborhood are at odds with EU values and interests. In the case of Cyprus, the European Union cannot be an unbiased actor. It supports its member state Cyprus and its ability to advance its economic interests within its EEZ according to international law, as the European Union would with any country elsewhere in the world. And while Turkey is free to pursue its national interests at the expense of collective European interests, its actions move it away from a more constructive partnership or strengthened economic ties with the European Union. And a more problematic EU-Turkey relationship further complicates conflict resolution efforts in the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and the Caucasus.

Eastern Mediterranean Principles
The preamble of NATO’s Charter states that its members pledge to “promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.” All NATO allies, including Turkey, need to promote stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. A first step would be to create an agreed set of principles to include: (1) ensure that all regional partners reap the benefits of energy exploration in the region, with a path toward equitable sharing of energy revenues acting as a confidence-building measure toward restarting the Cyprus peace process; (2) contain Russian influence and presence in the region; (3) ensure NATO’s freedom of action from the Black Sea through to the Mediterranean; (4) work toward regional stability in the Middle East and North Africa region, including counterterrorism efforts; (5) uphold international legal norms and UN resolutions, such as the UN arms embargo on Libya and efforts to reach a cease-fire, as well as countries’ territorial or maritime integrity (regardless of existing disputes); and (6) redouble efforts to avoid future maritime incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean between NATO allies by establishing new procedures.

Stronger U.S. political and security involvement in the region will help strengthen NATO’s resolve in the Eastern Mediterranean, be a bulwark against Russia’s growing military presence, and better balance tensions between France and Turkey. The European Union (and France in particular) will need to identify pragmatic ways to engage with Turkey on a range of issues and not simply denounce its actions. As Turkey’s economic situation deteriorates, greater economic opportunities, such as expanding the EU bilateral trade relationship with Turkey or increasing U.S. foreign direct investment, might encourage Ankara to participate in the development of a regional framework of principles. Unfortunately, these relationships have grown very fragile as tensions have risen, and Turkey’s unilateral actions have significantly destabilized the region. Hopefully, refocusing on a set of agreed principles and incentivizing progress can restore NATO unity and restore focus on protecting its southern flank.

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