Turkey Debates SCO as an Alternative to the EU

Between now and the next ten years, Turkey is likely to be absorbed into the SCO rather than the EU for obvious reasons such as what Mr. Erdogan had stated. The anti-US SCO is a counterweight to the US-European NATO alliance, as well as the US-allied bloc in Asia that includes countries such as Japan and South Korea. The US is in suicidal decline while the EU also cannot get its act together as well. The Sino-Soviet led SCO on the other hand is awash in resources from Russia while China supplies the man power. Technology is also advancing in both countries by leaps and bounds. Lastly, membership offers a military protectorate umbrella under both China and Russia. Western powers have reason to be worried, especially should India and Pakistan gain membership status.

To put in perspective the political, military and geographical reach of the SCO, take a look at the following map (click for larger picture):

 

 

As Turkey and the EU slowed down the accession process in recent years, Turkish public opinion adopted a negative outlook toward the EU. In a recent Turkish opinion poll, survey participants were asked: “What should Turkey do regarding EU membership in the next five years?” Two thirds of Turks responded that Turkey should quit trying to be a member of the EU altogether. Only 33 percent of respondents believed that Turkey should insist on full membership status (edam.org.tr, January 22).

Turkey’s first priority for the next few years appears to be to focus on visa-free travel whereby Turkish citizens are no longer required to obtain a Schengen visa to enter the EU. Minister Bagis recently wrote an op-ed piece for the neurope.eu website stressing, “There is one issue that has been on top of our agenda still pending to be resolved: the Schengen visa [preventing the] free travel of Turkish citizens.” In that article Minister Bagis argues, “It is not fair. Turkey is the only [EU] candidate country, whose citizens are still subject to visas. Turkey is the only country that had formed a Customs Union with the EU without becoming a member. The products of Turkish businessmen can freely flow into the Union, but the owners of those products cannot freely travel” (www.neurope.eu, January 27). Meanwhile, optimistic reports circulate in the pro-government newspaper Sabah alleging that Denmark and Austria support dropping visa requirements for Turkish citizens (Sabah, January 27).

Yet, while EU Relations Minister Egemen Bagis has been traveling throughout Europe to seek support for revitalizing EU-Turkish relations, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened up a fresh Pandora’s Box during a January 26 TV interview, in which he said:

The EU process is constantly on our agenda. Egemen Bagis, our EU minister and chief negotiator briefs us on developments weekly at the Council of Ministers. We follow developments regarding the EU every week. The EU, however, actually wants to forget us; however, they are hesitating and cannot forget. We are not the ones that are undecided—the European Union is; whereas if they would just reveal their true intentions to us, we would be at ease. We could just look after our own business and go our own way. The European Union needs to stop stalling us (sabah.com.tr, January 26).

When asked to clarify whether the SCO is an alternative to the EU, Erdogan said, “The SCO is better and more powerful, and we have common values with them. We told them, ‘If you say come, we will.’ Pakistan wants to join, as does India. They have also made requests. We could all join together. In terms of population and markets, this organization significantly surpasses the European Union in every way” (Today’s Zaman, Sabah, January 26–27).

Full article: Turkey Debates SCO as an Alternative to the EU (Jamestown Foundation)

Comments are closed.