Climate in Europe has changed immensely
Since the beginning of 2014, while everybody else in Turkey was occupied with other things, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assigned all its efforts to repairing relations with Europe.
I will not go into the details of this series of policies of “cleaning the thorns between us and Europe” but it was proven right as of mid-summer last year when, quite unexpectedly, Turkey and the EU started converging.
I was in Paris and Brussels last week with EU Minister Volkan Bozkır; I was in the capital of Holland, The Hague, the other day with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Next week, Davutoğlu will visit Brussels; at the beginning of the year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Ankara.
Yes, there is a rapid convergence and let us hope this is only the beginning. This convergence is conducted on two pillars: first, the rise in trade and investments with the EU and second, the Syrian crisis.
Turkey is arguing that Europe is recovering from crisis and can only grow by investing abroad; thus, Turkey is calling European investors to invest in Turkey.
Last week, several prominent businesspeople of France attended our Paris Ambassador Hakkı Akil’s banquet; all seemed ready to invest.
The other morning, PM Davutoğlu met with Dutch businesspeople at the hotel as soon as he landed in The Hague. Holland is already the biggest European investor in Turkey and there was an even bigger appetite at that meeting.
In other words, what they call “the first leg” of relations is not going bad at all. If talks on the expansion of the customs union agreement to cover services, public purchases and agriculture start before the end of the year, then Turkey-EU trade may double; this is very significant.
The second leg is the Syrian crisis but the crisis itself is an excuse because what matters here is that Turkey is an indispensable political partner regarding the EU.
In regional crises, we have seen once more that the EU needs Turkey’s cooperation and Turkey needs to be one with the EU. More importantly, the EU, primarily Germany, looks as if they have seen also this. It is clear the EU has started seeing that Turkey is not a country to stand by its side during a crisis and then one to leave alone once the crisis is over.
For the moment, the most burning issue is the Syrian crisis and the refugee crisis, which will both not be solved overnight.
Syria and Iraq, on the southern border of Turkey, and the method to manage security issues stemming from these two countries are the essential features shaping the future.
At this point, the partnering of Turkey’s regional foreign policy and the EU policies points out to the sharing of a common fate and the will to build the future together.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu said Turkey was “the last castle” the other day. What does “last castle” mean? Imagine for a moment that Turkey would become as destabilized as Syria and Iraq. Would you be comfortable in Germany?
Turkey’s stability and security have become interchangeable conceptualy with Europe’s stability and security.
The cost of keeping Turkey outside the EU is larger than keeping it inside.
But, of course, this does not mean the convergence of Turkey and EU will progress automatically because of these circumstances. During this period, Turkey has to adopt or get closer to EU values, not make mistakes and achieve its economic growth to decrease the income inequality between itself and Europe.
An important era is underway.