The EU via Nicosia
More and more efforts are building to convince Turkey that for a place in the European Union - even in a future outer layer of a multi-layered one - Ankara must see the reality that the road passes through Nicosia. Which Nicosia? The sole divided city that has been serving as the capital of two mini-states, or the one that will be the capital of a new “Cyprus federation” that hopefully brings together the two halves of the island under a federal roof? In any case, the message is clear: The longer the Cyprus problem continues, the longer Turkey’s period in the waiting room of the EU.
That is a rather straightforward message, even if it was put through milder diplomatic jargon or spoken to the face in the clearest way possible. Yet, no one has so far assured Turkey that if there is a Cyprus “resolution” in line with the expectations of the “two Greek members” of the European Union, the door of the European club of democracies will be wide open to the Turks. Opening a few more chapters that were blocked so far by Greek Cyprus cannot solve Turkey’s EU-related problems, as there is a reluctance in many capitals of the club to admit a huge country like Turkey, which would not only introduce the first-ever predominantly Muslim and sui-generis “a la carte democracy” but add an incredible reorganization need from top-to-toe, as a 78-80 million populated Turkey will have to have a prominent place in all European organs. The entire Franco-German balance within the club will change, and perhaps together with Britain a new power center will be created within the group. Also, what would be the social and financial burden on the EU for the inclusion of such a huge country and population?
As you would notice by now, I did not even touch on the Kurdish issue, or the economic disparity between the east and the west of the country - let alone the disparity between Turkey and the EU average at the moment.
Can we assume, therefore, that “resolution” of the Cyprus problem in any fashion acceptable for the Greek duo in the EU will bring the resolution of the EU’s “eastern problem?” When this and similar questions are put forward, many people might say this is a Turkish way of approaching matters; only from Turkish territory may one look and see a “EU entity” while the EU was composed of separate states and different attitudes on every single matter, though eventually compromise formulae emerge through dialogue and reconciliation…
Compromise and reconciliation… Perhaps those are the two problematic words in Turkey-EU relations. Who should compromise or reconcile with whom? Would not compromising to the minority mean succumbing to it? Why would someone strong enough to take over his adversary reconcile and try to produce a compromise? That might be the problem; the culture of trying to resolve matters through compromise on the one hand and the culture of cutting the Gordion’s knot with a sharp sword on the other.
Well, cutting the knot with a sword was an efficient way of resolving matters once upon a time in the west as well, as anywhere else. In the east, but in matters related to the east, apparently, neither the west nor the east behave with such considerations, and prefer the sword to compromise. Worse, in eastern societies, including Turkey, power worshipping or, as was seen in the November election in Turkey, the demand for stability might outweigh all other demands, headed by hopes of more transparent, democratic governance respectful of the supremacy of law.
Downing a Russian jet could not be considered even by Israel, a nation so obsessed with security, but could be undertaken by the Turks. Why? Was it because of the strong adventure instinct of the Turks? Was it because they were unaware of probable consequences? Why did the Turks not consider for one second what their reaction to Greece would be if Athens ordered the downing of one of the hundreds of Turkish jets involved in alleged airspace intrusions?
This mentality problem is serious. With or without a Cyprus problem, Ankara joining the EU would require a mental overhaul in Ankara. The resolution of even the Kurdish problem - which also cannot be resolved without a comprehensive mental reformat in Turkey - would not solve Turkey’s incompatibility with European culture. How could anyone fit the bossy, arrogant, opinionated, mother-in-law style behavior of the Turkish leadership?
American Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Cyprus and later around here to promote security interests as well as press for a Cyprus fix while also probably stressing that for a place in the EU, Turkey should walk the extra mile and deliver a painful Cyprus surrender to the Greek duo.
Wrong… Turkey’s EU road is not via Cyprus, it is via Ankara. It is the mental setup of Turks.