In late 2019, Jean-François Drevet sounded the alarm in this magazine (issue 433) on the risks the European Union was running by not building a genuine common defence capacity. Facing a variety of tensions with Turkey and a weakening of the role of the Atlantic Alliance against a background of US disengagement, the EU can no longer rely on the ‘soft power’ that built its reputation. On the one hand, that policy, based on the defence and dissemination of European values (democracy, human rights), is no longer systematically applied; on the other, by responding too little to the various threats emerging on its Eastern and Southern flanks, the Union runs the risk of losing credibility at the geopolitical level. Hence this call from Jean-François Drevet to establish a European system of security and defence that meets current challenges, a system able to incorporate an operational military element: a hard power to complement the soft.
The last two years have perhaps marked a turning point in the — relatively peaceful — international relations that had prevailed in the developed world since the end of the Cold War. A wind of change has been perceptible for some time now, with the growing resonance of populist movements, particularly in Europe, a newly expansionist China and Russia, and the spread of Islamic terror onto European soil etc.
And, as Jean-François Drevet shows here, three recent events confirm that there is cause for concern: first, Brexit, the consequence of a form of populism that runs the risk of leaving the UK isolated on the international stage; second, the accession to power of Donald Trump, whose erratic behaviour in the diplomatic field — also tinged with populist overtones — is tending to cause or aggravate crises rather than resolve them; and, last, the clampdown in Turkey by President Erdo?an who, like Donald Trump, manages his foreign policy on an emotive basis, without always foreseeing the consequences. These three events are changing the way international relations are conducted and raise questions over the future security of Europe, since, with the foreign policy of three of the EU’s major neighbours or partners being dictated by populist considerations, Europe has to be able to cope with new crises and to do so alone, outside the US umbrella. That will no doubt be one of the major challenges for the European Union in the medium term.
Souvent présentée comme le pont joignant l’Orient à l’Occident, la Turquie jouit d’une position géographique et culturelle tout à fait singulière. Forte de près de 75 millions d’habitants répartis sur les 780 000 kilomètres carrés ayant survécu au démembrement de l’Empire ottoman, elle a longtemps constitué « l’exception démocratique » en Asie occidentale puisque, peuplée à 98 % de musulmans, la République turque est dotée d’institutions laïques et parlementaires. Néanmoins, l’arrivée au pouvoir en 2002 ...
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After the events in Turkey this summer (an attempted coup followed by an enormous wave of repression on the part of the powers that be), the question of how that country fits in with the European Union can no longer be posed in the same terms. The prospect of Ankara joining the EU was already very slim, but in this context and in light of the foreign policy pursued by Turkey’s leaders, it has virtually disappeared. It remains to be decided how the Union will manage its relations with Turkey, a pivotal country between Europe and the East, and an Atlantic Alliance member governed by an islamic-conservative party.
Jean-François Drevet looks to cast light on this question by assessing Turkey’s external relations and foreign policy stance over the last few years. He stresses the difficulties the EU has in conducting discussions with leaders who are untrustworthy and opportunistic and who look increasingly toward Asia, while the security of the European continent has long depended on its Turkish bastion in the East. But if this changed situation is rather disturbing, it also represents a real opportunity for the Union to take stock of its priorities and stand up resolutely for them, without any additional concessions to a country that is becoming less and less of an ally.
Des découvertes sans précédent Depuis 2003, les progrès techniques de l’exploration en eau profonde (1 650 mètres de profondeur) ont permis la découverte de grands gisements de gaz près des côtes égyptiennes, qui ont entraîné les pays voisins à se lancer dans la prospection. Chypre pourrait en détenir 1 770 milliards de mètres cubes, soit environ la moitié du total. Impliquée des deux côtés de la limite maritime des zones économiques exclusives (ZEE) Israël-Chypre, la firme américaine Noble Energy ...
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Nowadays, it is frequently discussed that the migration trend between Turkey and Germany has changed direction and the Turks living in Germany are returning to Turkey. I will discuss here, who are living in Germany with a Turkish background; who are going to Turkey, from Germany; what do they do in Turkey; and what can be the first consequences for both of the countries. First of all, we need to know that, one-fifth of those living in Germany have migration ...
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In the wake of Greece, Cyprus has in turn been plunged into the economic crisis that has afflicted Europe for more than five years, with the finger being pointed once again at a corrupt banking system. Quite apart from the lasting crisis of confidence which, as Jean-François Drevet reminds us here, has ensued within the European Union, it will be difficult for Cyprus to recover from this blow. Nevertheless, there may well be an opportunity to take advantage of the changed context, and of the new prospects for gas extraction off the island’s coasts (which lend it strategic interest in an entirely new way), to re-launch negotiations with Turkey on the reunification of the country. Apart from the special role the USA and the UK might play in this (given their geostrategic interests in the region), it would also be an opportunity for the EU to work not simply to manage this conflict (which became an internal one when Cyprus joined the Union in 2004), but to resolve it constructively and durably, in accordance with the European law.
It is more than seven years now since negotiations were begun on the possibility of Turkey joining the European Union (after nearly 40 years of “association” between Ankara and the European Community). Nonetheless, it seems increasingly difficult to believe that full membership will become a reality in the medium term. As Jean-François Drevet shows here, the policies adopted by the Turkish government in recent years, both internally (with regard, most importantly, to respect for human rights) and externally (with regard to Cyprus and the Near East –particularly Syria, Israel and Iran), together with the growing impact of the religious factor on its foreign policy, militate against Turkey’s incorporation into the EU. Whether this situation derives from a lack of motivation or a lack of clear-sightedness on Ankara’s part, the results are clear and, short of another partnership option being devised, the odds are that negotiations will be stalled for a very long time.
The European Union, which has gradually expanded its geographical space with the arrival of new members, now shares – or almost shares – a border in the east and the south with a certain number of countries that are likely to be troublesome in diplomatic terms. This is particularly the case, as Jean-François Drevet shows here, with three of its major eastern neighbours: Russia, Turkey and Iran. As argued in this column, the foreign policies of these three countries, which aspire to be regional powers, have the following features in common: aggressive behaviour towards their neighbours, an obsessive conception of their security and relatively vague political objectives. In a context like this, what position can the European Union adopt to reconcile their ambitions with its own pursuit of regional security respecting international law? Pacifism, pragmatism, mistrust and expansionism are of no help here in “squaring the circle”...
A year and a half after the beginning of the “Arab Spring” and with the regional context in the Mediterranean in a very uncertain state (Syria, Egypt and the Arab-Israeli conflict etc.), the atypical profile of Turkey is regularly put forward either as a model or a possible point of leverage. Some observers are, in fact, arguing strongly for the European Union to review its position with regard to that country’s membership of the Union at this moment.
In this forum article, Pierre Chabal, who shares this position in favour Turkish EU entry, rehearses the arguments in its favour. He particularly stresses the change in geostrategic context (the Cold War has ended and east, central and south Asia are all advancing) – and also in economic environment (Turkey has made significant efforts to meet Community demands and represents, moreover, a strategic crossroads on the energy supply-route to Europe). He also emphasizes the degree to which Turkey is now an essential part of both Europe’s security architecture and regional stability, and he warns the Union against making the country wait too long for membership at a time when there are other prospective alliances on Turkey’s horizon and it is being actively courted by the countries of Asia, China foremost among them. In such a context, Turkish integration is, in his view, no longer an option but a necessity.
As a result of the dramatic social consequences they produce, periods of economic crisis are – as history shows – often springboards for the rise of various forms of extremism and of inward-looking movements. It is reassuring, then, to see governments in Europe currently striving to stand together and attempt to face up collectively to the economic setbacks affecting most European countries. Just a few decades ago, national conflicts and resentments were so rooted in people’s minds that, at that time, such cooperation would have been unimaginable. That it exists attests to the work done since World War II to calm those tensions and enable a common reading of recent European history to emerge.
Jean-François Drevet brings this out clearly in this column, so as to forewarn those in Europe – or at the gates of Europe – who might be tempted by a form of historical falsification. After reminding readers briefly of what such falsifications of history have led to in Europe and of the emergence of a more calmly conceived history, he turns to various clarifications he regards as necessary in this area. These relate particularly to two countries which are tempted by a rather skewed reading of their national histories: Hungary and Turkey. He concludes on the importance of every country “coming to terms” with its national history, so that it is not endlessly carrying a hostile baggage that is out of phase with a united Europe.
In the current context of the “Arab springs” and the victory of the Islamist Ennahda Party at the elections held in late October 2011 in Tunisia, the situation in Turkey is attracting more and more interest. As we saw last month in these pages, this country situated at the boundary between East and West, which is secular and democratic and yet led by an Islamic government that has enjoyed broad popular support for almost ten years, is currently reclaiming its diplomatic independence and acquiring unprecedented regional and international scope. Does this mean Turkey is turning its back on Europe and looking toward the East? That seems highly unlikely, but it is clear, as Jean-François Drevet shows here, that the new foreign policy of Ankara has – and will have – important consequences for the relations between Turkey and the EU, and perhaps on its prospects of membership of the Union.
Apart from the longstanding difficulties posed by the Cyprus problem, the Turkish determination to give a religious dimension (in this case, an Islamic one) to its foreign policy could raise a new obstacle on the path to membership, as could the difficulties Ankara is experiencing in its attempt to eliminate all the problems from its relations with its neighbours (particularly, Israel, Greece or Armenia). And though Turkey may seem to Europeans like an important regional partner, we should not – provided that the country remains interested in joining the Union – fall into a policy of culpable indulgence towards it, akin to that long practised by the USA.
The re-election in June 2011 of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in Turkey, confirmed the rootedness in Turkish society of the AKP, the Islamic party that has commanded a majority in the country since 2002. It has to be said that the “Turkish model”, so often advocated by Western countries in the 20th century, has undergone major development and is arousing growing attention on the part of Turkey’s Arab neighbours. Given the geopolitical upheavals affecting North Africa and the Middle East for almost a year now, can this non-Arab border-nation between East and West, with its secular, democratic state led by an Islamic party enjoying broad popular support, become a source of regional inspiration ?
Jean Marcou examines this question within the framework of the series of articles on the Mediterranean initiated by Futuribles in 2011. He begins by reminding us how much the image of Turkey has changed in less than a century, with the “Turkish model” evolving from that of a modernized, secular Muslim country – which, despite a relatively flimsy layer of democracy and the domination of politics by the army, became an ally of the West – into a democracy asserting its Muslim identity and exercising an independent diplomacy. This has been a course of development that has left the country no longer an estranged “brother” to its Arab neighbours, but a power with renewed autonomy vis-à-vis the West and an example that might inspire those countries which have just emancipated themselves from the yoke of dictators. Quite clearly, as Jean Marcou reminds us, a number of internal ambiguities and difficulties remain, beginning with the Kurdish question, but the former “Sick Man of Europe” has undoubtedly become a key actor again in this region that stands the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia.
In 2010 a book by the American historian Sean McMeekin, The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power 1898-1918 (Cambridge [Mass.]: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010) was published, telling the story of the Berlin-Baghdad railway in the early 20th century and its role in the political, economic and military strategy of the great powers at the time. In terms of subject matter, this work in a way represents, as Bernard Cazes argues, a corrective to a counterfactual developed by the writer John Buchan in his book Greenmantle of 1916 (Thirsk: House of Stratus, 2001; new edition). He presents some of its salient points here that will undoubtedly be of interest to geopolitics buffs, showing, in substance, how Germany, drawing on support from the Ottoman Empire, attempted to de-stabilize its enemies of the time by encouraging jihad in French and British colonies and Zionism in Russia – a strategy that would have paid off if the work on the Berlin-Baghdad railway had not fallen so far behind schedule.
Legislative elections in Turkey will be held in mid-June 2011. In this article Didier Billion and Bastien Alex present the political context, the parties in contention and the main issues involved. They remind us of the process of democratization that has been underway since the AKP (“Justice and Development Party”, the majority Islamic party since 2002) has been in power, against a background of polarizing tensions with the army (which has traditionally underpinned secularism and the Kemalist principles on which the Turkish republic has been based since its creation in 1923). They stress also the weakening of the political role of the military and the deep rootedness of the AKP in Turkish society. And, in spite of the substantial debates driving the electoral campaign (on constitutional reform or the question of membership of the European Union, for example), June’s ballot should, barring surprises, end with the AKP being re-elected as the Turkish government.
It remains to be seen, among other things, whether, on the one hand – given something of a move to the radical right in its discourse and certain actions that pose questions about the respect for human rights within the country – the AKP will continue the process it has initiated for meeting European demands for democratization and, on the other, the Turks will maintain their resolve to join a European Union that is currently trying their patience in the “antechamber” to accession.
The Cyprus question, which led to the suspension of talks between Turkey and the European Union (EU) in December 2006, still hangs over negotiations on Turkish membership of the EU, which will be back on the agenda at the next European summit in December.
Despite a European ultimatum, Ankara is, in fact, still resolute in its stance: it refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus (an EU member since 2004) or to open its ports and airports to it.
In this context, Jean-François Drevet goes to the heart of the problem – namely, the geopolitical situation of the island, which is divided into two entities: the Republic of Cyprus in the south, the only authority recognized by the international community, and, in the north, the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
He goes on to analyse the terms of a possible reunification. Throughout his article he makes reference, in this connection, to the Annan Plan, proposed by Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. In a referendum in 2004 this was accepted by the residents of the north, but rejected by those in the south and has since been abandoned. However, a number of the proposals in that plan could now come in for renewed consideration.
Following its expansion to 27 members with the admission of Bulgaria and Rumania in January 2007, the European Union remains open to absorbing further new members, in particular Turkey - even though membership negotiations were suspended in 2006 because of the Cyprus problem. As is well known, the possibility of Turkey joining the EU has generated very mixed reactions from public opinion in some member states (including France), but what do the Turks feel?
Jean-François Drevet discusses the sources of the problems: domestic matters (democracy, rule of law, etc.) and foreign affairs issues (tensions with Greece, the Cyprus question, the Kurdish problem...). He stresses in particular that the Turkish government is perhaps not all that keen to join the EU, to judge from its resistance and reluctance to meet the criteria set by the existing member states. In contrast with previous negotiations (Mediterranean countries, Central and Eastern Europe), the Europeans must now deal with a country whose government, along with some of its people, is in no hurry to adapt to the European model. Perhaps it might be wise, the author argues, to allow Turkey to advance at its own pace before examining its possible suitability for entry.
The question of whether Turkey should eventually be allowed to join the European Union was much in the news in 2005, and worked its way into the debate about the European Constitution even though it was not relevant. Independently of the political debate about the legitimacy of Turkey's admission to the EU, Frédéric Allemand has looked at the possible repercussions of Turkey joining for the way the Union's institutions operate, in view of the country's sheer demographic size and growth.
Relying on a variety of population forecasts (United Nations, Eurostat, etc.) to 2025 for the current EU member states, those already in the queue (Bulgaria, Romania, the Balkan states, etc.) and Turkey, Frédéric Allemand has calculated the voting weight that Turkey would have, based on population, in the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and various other bodies, in the context of a greatly enlarged European Union and on the assumption that current arrangements for decision-making remain unchanged. He points out that, as the most populous country, Turkey would effectively have the same influence on decision-making as a "big" nation, like the four current "big" members (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom), who would see their relative weight reduced. But for one thing, this reduction in the relative importance of the current "big" four would just be part of a general trend that has been developing over the last three decades. For another, Turkey's large size need not translate into actual influence on the decision-making process, as experience shows that there is a certain distrust of the big countries which can often lead to their being marginalized.
Membership of the European Union has grown from its original six countries to 12, then 15, then (since May 2004) 25. This expansion could easily continue (perhaps to as many as 40 members) since several other countries are in the running, with a variety of modes of association, as Jean-François Drevet outlines in this article. Among the candidates, Turkey is undoubtedly the one given most media attention, above all in France; but there are also the former Soviet bloc countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria and Rumania. Expansion could well have a domino effect, in the longer term bringing in former Soviet republics such as Georgia and the Ukraine.
In fact, the question of the future borders of the EU, and how acceptable they are to the founding members (above all France), is more topical than ever. Jean-François Drevet discusses the issues involved, the possible advantages, especially in bringing peace to the continent, the obstacles and sensitivities that must be taken into account, both within the EU and outside it (for instance with regard to Russia). He offers us a very full picture of what the EU might become - more than ever a matter of "variable geography". In his view, the prospects of the EU's centre of gravity moving eastwards are, for the time being, very slight even if there were to be major expansion: western Europe remains the clear economic and political driving force within the continent.
The main regret in this process, according to Drevet, is that this policy of expansion has unfortunately had the effect of holding back the impetus to deepen the links. Efforts should be made to remedy this in order to strengthen the EU, for example via the Constitution currently under discussion.
On 6 October 2004, the European Commission published its report on Turkey's application to join the European Union, in which it favoured opening negotiations about eventual membership. Since then there has been heated debate, especially in France, about whether or not Turkey should be part of Europe: those in favour of Turkish membership refer to the country's European past and its links with the EU since 1963, as well as its model as a secular democracy in the Muslim world; those opposed argue that it is too far away from the rest of Europe both geographically and in terms of its values (failure to respect human rights, Islam, etc.).
In order to understand the arguments put forward by both sides, it is as well to know more about the country, its history, its political and economic situation, the lifestyles of its people, etc. In this article Jean Raphaël Chaponnière provides an outline of its main features, before discussing the issues underlying Turkey's bid to join the EU and the fears that this raises, rightly or wrongly, for example with regard to international migration or religious issues. In his view, the potential costs of Turkey being allowed to join are roughly the same as if its bid is ultimately rejected - a comparison rarely made by commentators.
In the end, the uncertainty about Turkey's future in Europe that the EU has maintained for decades, and that will continue for several years yet, simply reflects the EU's difficulties in defining the criteria for further enlargement: how far should Europe expand, based on which core values and what ultimate purpose (free trade or political union)?
Tandis que l’opinion se saisit soudain du dossier de l’élargissement de l’Union européenne (en particulier concernant la candidature de la Turquie), alors qu’il s’agissait ordinairement d’une affaire d’initiés, Jean-François Drevet vient de publier une nouvelle édition, revue et corrigée, d’un ouvrage faisant le point sur les enjeux de l’élargissement. C’est à cette double occasion qu’il est venu s’exprimer au sein du groupe Futuribles. Il a tenu à exposer ...
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Depuis des mois, la presse et les experts ont insisté sur la dimension politique de l'ouverture de négociations d'adhésion entre l'Union européenne et la Turquie, au plan intérieur comme régional. De même, les effets d'une adhésion turque sur les institutions et l'économie européennes ont été largement débattus. Ici, la question examinée est celle de l'économie turque : le choix qui sera fait marquera, pour elle aussi, un tournant décisif. Selon les auteurs, l'ouverture de ...
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