AUG 11, 2022 – DAILY SABAH
The European Union and Turkish flags fly side by side on the İstiklal Avenue, in Istanbul, Türkiye, Sept. 5, 2020. (Getty Images)
Dear friends in the Western capitals, Türkiye’s better ties with Russia is not related to the axis shift but your ignorance toward the country’s security concerns
2023 and beyond: Wise and compassionate Turkish diplomacy
At the recent Sochi meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Türkiye and Russia discussed the development of cooperation in the political, economic and commercial fields. One of the summit’s most important results was the agreement to trade in rubles between the two countries. Immediately after the gathering, some comments on the Türkiye-Russia rapprochement appeared in the Western press. In a report in the Financial Times, for example, it was claimed that the Western capitals began to worry about the rapprochement and that Türkiye could face punitive measures if it helped Russia evade sanctions. Yes, this is a very familiar paranoia story.
Occasionally, we witness the debate on whether “Türkiye will have axis shift.” However, despite all the rumors, the axis of Türkiye, which turned its face to the West a century ago but has been hit by the same West every time since then, has not shifted. The EU’s inconsistent approach toward Türkiye’s accession process is apparent. However, Ankara is insistent on its approach too.
Security is major reason
The deepening ties between Türkiye and Russia under the leadership of Erdoğan in the last few years is entirely the preference of the Western bloc formed by the EU and the U.S. So, who rejected Türkiye’s demand for air defense system even as it protects NATO’s significant southeastern border? Or, who is responsible for Türkiye’s turning to the S-400 alternative? Or which countries provide shelters to hundreds of terrorists of the cult leader Fetullah Gülen, who attempted a military coup in Türkiye and killed 252 people? Which countries give these killers residence and work permits despite the decisions of the Turkish judiciary integrated into the European legal system? Or which countries openly provide arms to the extensions of the designated terrorist group PKK, responsible for the deaths of around 40,000 people?
It is possible to ask more questions. However, the answer is never Russia. Therefore, it is not strange for Türkiye to seek alternatives and to get closer with its neighbor Russia in the face of the “betrayals” it faces from the West, which it considers to be an ally. Many EU countries, especially Germany, are trying to come to terms with Russia in order to survive the winter without natural gas problems. They even approved the sale in rubles. So why does Türkiye’s same approach cause such a fuss to open the sanctions debate? Moreover, without the Türkiye-Russia rapprochement, which the West finds dangerous, there would be no bridge between Ukraine and Russia. For example, the projects such as the “grain corridor,” which is the lifeblood of poor people, could not have been implemented.
Above all, Türkiye is an independent country. A legitimate government has come to power through free and general elections. It will not have to take permission from other countries while taking steps in accordance with international law and agreements in view of its national interests.
The accession issue
If the EU wants Türkiye to act in strict accordance with its official policies, the solution is apparent. You guessed right. It’s the membership issue, but nothing. In a few years, the bloc gave membership to the eastern European countries, which did not even come close to the Copenhagen or Maastricht criteria. The bloc is even trying to make Ukraine a member despite the requirement that “all candidate countries should resolve their border disputes among themselves and with third countries before they accede to the bloc.” If the EU approves the membership of Türkiye, which has been stalled for more than half a century, there will no contradiction or discussion.
In the meantime, my advice to my colleagues at the Financial Times, who are focusing on “the sanctions” against Türkiye, is that they should research how the impositions on Russia backfired and hit Europe and the U.S. But, I know they can’t as their bosses don’t allow them to do so. But at least they can understand a little bit about what kind of fire they are playing with.
Fueling war and conflict is not journalism, my friends.