BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) – In spite of the Turkish government’s recent provocations, Berlin is steadfastly maintaining its cooperation with Ankara. Over the past few days, members of the Turkish government have affronted several EU countries as “fascist,” thereby again provoking sharp protests. For some time, human rights organizations and other critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been up in arms over Ankara’s brutal violations of human and civil rights, its attempt to establish a presidential dictatorship and its arbitrary incarceration of citizens of foreign countries. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her objective was to prevent Turkey from “becoming even more alienated from us,” which is why we must persist in our cooperation. Since some time, government advisors in Germany’s capital have been warning that Ankara is seriously considering joining the Chinese-Russian Alliance (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – SCO), and that, within the Turkish establishment, voices calling for Turkey to leave NATO are growing louder. That would be a serious setback for Berlin’s ambitions to become a world power, which for geostrategic reasons, is dependent on its cooperation with Ankara.
The Alliance Issue
Most important, however, is that Ankara, to a growing degree, is turning its back on the EU and NATO – and turning more toward Russia. Advisors of the government in Berlin have been observing this process since some time with great apprehension. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In fact, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has led his country – after several erratic foreign policy somersaults – over to Russia’s side, with success. Ankara is one of the three guarantor powers, alongside Moscow and Teheran, for the latest Syrian ceasefire. It is now negotiating with Moscow on the delivery of ultra-modern S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, which are incompatible with NATO standards. Moreover, as was reported by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), “Ankara and Moscow intend to introduce a joint framework for military and intelligence cooperation.” Since the attempted putsch on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has also fired or arrested numerous pro-western officers. Since then, the complaint has been that “the [NATO] alliance is lacking correspondents in the Turkish military.” Some in Ankara’s ruling circles are even raising the issue of the alliance, notes the SWP. “Turkish think tanks are weighing the pros and cons for remaining in NATO, with some having clearly opted for the exit.”
The Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS) is now also taking up the question of whether Turkey can give up its traditional membership in NATO to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO, which is still largely unknown here, is an alliance with China and Russia at its core, which so far has been mainly concentrating on border protection and fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, the SCO has also begun to carry out joint military exercises. Russian-Chinese maneuvers have been held in the Mediterranean. For the coming year, SCO is preparing its first major round of expansion. India and Pakistan want to become members. Russia supports Iran’s candidature. Turkey became one of the alliance’s “dialogue partners” back in 2012. In November 2013, President Erdoğan reiterated his intention of seeking full membership. BAKS warns that “in light of Turkey’s charm offensive toward the SCO, the alarm signals should be shrilly ringing in the EU and the USA.” There are many indications that the People’s Republic of China would refuse Turkey’s membership. However, it is risky to rely on this possibility. That country is “strategically much too valuable” to the West.
Loss of Power
Turkey’s changing alliances would, in fact, be a serious blow for Berlin, not only because of the loss of the strategically very significant land bridge  to the Middle East. The West would also be seriously weakened at the Black Sea – with NATO countries and their allies along most of its coastline today. Should Turkey eventually join the SCO, an alliance with a non-European focus – aside from Russia – would, for the first time, be present on the European continent. That would be disastrous for the German establishment with its ambitions of becoming a world power.
Free Hand for Ankara
Berlin is maneuvering accordingly – leaving Ankara a free hand with any form of excess. Human rights organizations have been accusing the Turkish armed forces of having committed serious crimes in their war against sectors of the Kurdish-speaking minority. Under Erdoğan’s rule, Ankara had supported jihadi terrorist organizations for a long time. The new constitution, Ankara has prepared and hopes to have passed by referendum in mid-April, tends, in fact, toward the establishment of a presidential dictatorship. According to the website “Turkey Purge,” during the post July 15, 2016 purge, 128,625 employees have been fired, 94,224 people arrested and 46,875 incarcerated. 149 media outlets have been shut down, 162 journalists imprisoned. At least six German citizens have been affected, including the German journalist Deniz Yücel. Berlin has more or less resigned itself to their imprisonment, and complied with Ankara’s demands. As has now been made known, pictures of the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan have been banned from being displayed publicly, a demand repeatedly made over the years by the Turkish government.