Turkey and European Army
Yüksel Söylemez – 20 March 2001
Will there be an European Army tomorrow or the day after? Can it be functional without Turkish involvement? Can Turkey be left out of the process? And the question of what may the consequences be must be asked for a careful assessment.
European Security and Defence Arrangements (ESDI) are undergoing a transformation of historic proportions. The predominant trends in Europe indicate a dangerous direction of a Europe inevitably de-coupled from the USA. A future Europe, independent in its security and independent in defence from across the Atlantic. The unconvincing rhetoric by some European leaders intends to assure us that this is all about strengthening NATO and the Transatlantik link. But in reality the ESDI project on the table aims to transfer many of the features of NATO over to the EU. It will be interesting to see how the Bush administration will wake up and respond to ESDI process, in the aftermath of the Clinton approach of “laissez faire, laissez passer” attitude towards ESDI.
As to how this project will effect Europe, it seems that institutional separatism has reached a critical stage and we are surely at a crossroads. In case various national and institutional interests are not converged, we will be faced with an exclusive arrangement which is about to be created. Then the question is, will such a exclusive arrangement be workable? Will it be effective?
Let us not for a moment forget, that NATO and EU share the common strategic interests and face the same challenges. However, the tendency to exclusivity is unfortunately there. There are those in Europe who advocate the creation of an independent system. This will be de-coupling from NATO and this will lead to a serious rift amongst allies, which is self defeating.
Turkey is deeply concerned because of its geographic location, because of her close proximity to the existing and potential crisis areas. Consequently what is formulated for the security of Europe and the arrangements made in that respect are of great importance for Turkey. It is no exaggeration to state that Turkey’s vital security interests are at stake in ESDI project.
We the European allies are in the same boat. This boat is destined for the enhancement and defence of European security. But unfortunately our repeated appeals and serious warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The ESDI/CESDP process has serious implications for the entire Alliance. This process should enhance the security of all Allies. In this regard the NATO Washington summit decisions must be upheld. These decisions stipulated that all European allies should be able to participate in this process.
This may be a “ sui generis” situation. If this is the case, a “sui generis” solution must be found. Such a “sui generis” solution was the case in the Western European Union, which was workable and satisfactory. The redundant WEU was buried to prepare the birth to a baby European Army.
What Turkey demands and quite rightly is to be treated fairly and in an equitable manner concerning the developing process ESDI/CESDP.
If the EU persists in hiding behind institutional pretexts and excludes an ally like Turkey from the process, then the new arrangements vis-à-vis European Security may inevitable have undesirable side-effects. It is for European leaders to decide if it is in their interest to leave Turkey in or out of these new arrangements. This will be a political call that will either way have very significant repercussions for the future of Europe, its security and defence.