Turkey is an indispensable partner in the EU’s strategic vision

In the Strategic Foresight Report prepared to ensure that the EU is prepared for turmoil in global politics and possible crises, Turkey is shown among the partners of the Union to cooperate on many issues.

Twenty years have passed since the terrorist attacks in the United States (USA) on September 11, 2001. While these attacks led to significant changes in the relations of international actors with each other, international politics after the attacks continues to face different security challenges compared to those in the twentieth century.

In this context, the European Union (EU), one of the main power areas in international relations, is trying to find methods that can adapt itself to changes and protect itself against various threats in its integration journey. Having set out with six members in 1957, the number of members of the Union has reached 27 today. However, it was not so easy to introduce new formats to the Union in the process; The EU stumbled from time to time in its integration steps.

The EU, which tries to find new ways out every time it stumbles, has experienced serious problems both on an organizational basis and in the relations between its members in the crisis caused by the new type of coronavirus (Kovid-19) epidemic. expressed. In this context, one of the studies carried out to improve the EU’s fight against crises, in other words, to strengthen the EU against possible crises, is the EU Strategic Foresight Reports, the first of which was announced on 9 September 2020, prepared by the EU Commission.

The purpose of strategic foresight reports is to prepare the EU for the next shocks and help it shape the future it wants. The first foresight report titled “Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe” emphasized on increasing the resilience of both the organization and the member states, based on the lessons that the EU learned especially from Kovid-19. In this framework, the function of the report was of course not fortune-telling, but to be able to calculate the effects of the crises that may arise and to calculate the benefits and losses, and thus to reveal different future scenarios.

Thus, it was aimed to support the policy makers in the EU and to include the foresight in the EU policy making process. The 2020 report outlined projections in four key interconnected areas: (i) social and economic resilience, (ii) geo-strategic resilience, (iii) green resilience, and (iv) digital resilience. One of the important findings in the report was that the center of gravity of world politics shifted to the east and south.

The EU considers Turkey among its geo-strategic priorities and sees it as one of the main partners with which it will cooperate on many issues related to the vital interests of the Union. In terms of relations with the EU, it is also important for Turkey to read the clues of the report correctly.

Key trends in global politics according to the EU

The second Strategic Foresight Report, with the title “The EU’s Capacity and Freedom to Act”, was announced on 8 September 2021 by Maros Sefcovic, the EU Commission’s Vice President for Inter-Agency Relations and Foresight. The second report seeks answers to questions about how the Union should structure itself against future global trends and challenges. One of the predictions in this framework conflicts with the first report; It is stated that global power continues to shift east and south.

The report identifies four key global trends in international politics: climate change and other environmental challenges, digital hyperconnectivity and technological transformations, pressure on democratic governance models and values, global order and demographic change. According to the report, which is estimated to increase the world population to 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, the EU population will decrease to around 420 million. In addition to the emphasis on the increase in global competition and multipolarity between the USA and China, in order to strengthen the clear strategic autonomy of the EU and to consolidate its global leadership towards 2050, the action areas under the ten headings where the EU leadership will be tested are listed as follows in the 2021 Strategic Foresight Report:

  1. Ensuring sustainable and resilient health & food systems
  2. Decarbonised and cost-effective energy security
  3. Strengthening capacity in data management, artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technologies
  4. Supply security and diversification of critical raw materials
  5. Being the first global power to set standards
  6. Building economic and financial systems that are resilient and functional in the future
  7. Developing and maintaining skills and abilities that meet EU targets
  8. Strengthening security and defense capacities and access to space
  9. Working with global partners in promoting peace, security and prosperity for all
  10. Increasing the resilience of public institutions and administrations

As can be seen in the report, while the EU deals with quite comprehensive issues in order to prepare itself for the future, it produces predictions regarding these areas and states its common goals. In this context, Turkey, which is among the countries that supply raw materials to the EU and also in a strategic geography in terms of migration, is of special importance in terms of the issues discussed in the report.

Turkey, which was not mentioned in the previous report and which is a candidate country to become a full member of the Union, is referred to in three places in the 2021 report: Firstly, Turkey is also the “emerging powers” (Emerging 7; E) along with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Russia. It is counted between -7). The G-7 countries (Canada, France, USA, Germany, Italy, England, Japan), which accounted for 60 percent of the world economy in 1975, now constitute 40 percent. The total GDP of the aforementioned E-7 countries corresponds to two-thirds of the G-7 countries. Moreover, these figures will have changed even more in favor of the E-7 by 2050. However, rising GDP rates do not mean that problems such as income inequality, lower environmental and working conditions will disappear in these rising countries.

On the one hand, Turkey should remind its interlocutors more frequently that the normalization of bilateral relations in line with the “principle of pact fidelity” will contribute to both regional and global prosperity, and on the other hand, take mutual and balanced steps to update the relations with the EU in political, economic and different fields within the framework of national interests. providing is of great importance.

The second issue mentioned about Turkey in the second report; the necessity of acting in cooperation with the EU members as well as Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Turkey in the face of natural disasters and other urgent problems that may arise in the future. It is understood from this emphasis; The EU sees Turkey among the countries with which it will cooperate as an important partner in terms of urgent interventions and finding solutions to crises. For Turkey, the correct reading of this determination will contribute to the steps to be taken so that Turkey-EU relations can be re-established on the basis of “mutual interests”, even if they are not in the direction of full membership. Because the reference to Turkey in the cooperation for the resolution of crises also records the need for Turkey to be felt by the EU in overcoming the problems in the future.

Turkey’s position in the EU’s geo-strategic priorities

The third reference, which explains Turkey’s place in the EU, is evident in the Union’s geo-strategic priorities. In other words, the EU mentions Turkey’s name while revealing that it intends to revive and develop its strategic coalitions and cooperation with certain regions and countries. In addition, the report draws attention to the importance of relations with Russia and envisages increasing the principled cooperation between the EU and Russia.

Turkey is important for the EU both on its own (directly) and (indirectly) because of the strengthening of transatlantic relations, the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU, the strategic partnership with Africa, the Indo-Pacific connection and the stability in the Central Asian geography. Because in each of these regions, which the EU considers among its geo-strategic priorities, Turkey’s presence is in question in terms of its national interests. Therefore, without Turkey and/or despite Turkey, the cooperation that the EU will carry out alone will be incomplete in making a positive contribution to global peace.

In the context of the evaluation of the report from Turkey’s perspective, it is useful to remember the statements made by Turkish and EU high-level officials in recent days regarding illegal immigration, which is discussed in both strategic reports. As a matter of fact, the Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, who recently visited Van, stated that Turkey and the EU agree on the prevention of illegal migration, and that they want to act in the direction of increasing and strengthening the migration management capacity, and preventing the smuggling of people, drugs and weapons. he did.

In terms of migration, the situation in Afghanistan after Syria poses a new challenge for Turkey and the EU. The EU Ambassador stated that they will cooperate with Turkey to support Afghanistan’s neighbors in providing protection and a safe environment for Afghan refugees. In this context, it would not be wrong to say that the measures to be taken by the two sides to combat illegal immigration and their cooperation will not only concern the region but also global politics.

In conclusion, the second of the EU’s strategic foresight reports, which started last year and is expected to continue on a regular basis, offers important clues in terms of understanding how the EU positions its own future in the global order. In this context, it is understood that relations with Turkey are not evaluated within the framework of full membership and that Turkey’s full membership will not be allowed in the very near future. However, the EU considers Turkey among its geo-strategic priorities and sees it as one of the main partners with which it will cooperate on many issues related to the vital interests of the Union.

In terms of relations with the EU, it is also important for Turkey to read the clues of the report correctly. On the one hand, Turkey should remind its interlocutors more frequently that the normalization of bilateral relations in line with the “principle of pact fidelity” will contribute to both regional and global prosperity, and on the other hand, take mutual and balanced steps to update the relations with the EU in political, economic and different fields within the framework of national interests. providing is of great importance.

[Dr. Nurgül Bekar is a faculty member at Ufuk University, Department of Political Science and International Relations]

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