Sunday, October 4, 2009

Turkey and the EU: Geopolitical concerns

This is the second article in a series of articles I will write about Turkey and the EU and in which I will explain the reasons why Turkey doesn’t belong and shouldn’t join the EU.

In order to join the EU, a country should reach a certain level of political and military stability, and this is far in turkey’s case.
Four major Geopolitical issues face Turkey; I will talk briefly about each one hoping to develop each issue in a specific single article.
1- The Kurdish Problem : The Kurdish problem is one of the main obstacles preventing Turkey to integrate into the European family, because it’s directly related to internal stability and security issues. There are two explanations of this problem : in the west and in the third world, the Kurdish issue is understood as an ethnic problem, an oppression of a minority by the Turkish majority, and viewed as a liberty struggle; on the other hand Turkey doesn’t consider it a Kurdish problem but rather a socio-economic problem and terrorism supported by foreign states.
2- The Cypriot Issue : In 1971 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus occupying 36% of the island. In the Turkish republic of northern Cyprus was declared and recognized only by Turkey. Since the Turkish invasion Turkey has maintained a policy of bringing in thousands of Anatolians colonists to settle the occupied land, thus changing the demographic character of the island so that the Turkish-speaking population outnumbers the Greek Cypriots. Long term this will justify inordinate claims of the Turkish side at the negotiating table regarding territorial arrangements and political power in a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The presence of colonists in the occupied part of Cyprus is a direct violation of the European convention of Human rights. This policy has been condemned in various resolutions of the UN, the EU parliament, the council of Europe and other international organizations.
3- The Armenian question : during the first world war turkey conducted a systematic eradication and genocide of the Armenian people. The massacres started in April 1915, and by the end of 1917 around 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives as well as millions of refugees that made what we know nowadays as the Armenian Diaspora ( around 6 millions).
In 1987 the European parliament decided the mass killings of Armenians minority in Turkey in 1915-1918 to be a crime of genocide under the UN convention on Genocide and defined Turkish denial of the fact as “ insurmountable obstacle to consideration of the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the European community “ (Eur. Parl. Resolution Doc. A2-33/87, NO.10). In 2005 the European parliament voted for a non-binding resolution blocking EU membership if Ankara refused to recognize the Genocide.
4- The Aegean dispute : Since decades, Turkey is in dispute with Greece over sovereignty in the area of the Aegean Sea. The conflict has created political crisis, with a near military action around 1987 and in early 1996. The dispute is divided into many categories : delimitation of territorial waters, delimitation of the national air-space, delimitation of exclusive economic zones. Both countries, Greece and Turkey possess zones of influence in the air and on the sea around their territories. The majority of the islands on the Aegean belong to Greece, despite the two countries having equal shares of coastlines. The conflict arises from concerns from both sides; Turkey is concerned that Greece would turn the Aegean into a “Greek lake” and Greece is worried that Turkey might try to occupy at least half of the Aegean by creating zones of influence toward the middle, thus surrounding the Greek islands by Turkish waters.

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