Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Turkey's importance

As American power continues to wane the rise of China will be of particular interest and if the 19th century was Britain' century, the 20th America's and the 21st is to be China's, are we not just substituting one hegemonical power for another? Perhaps, but there is enough evidence to suggest that the primacy that the United States, in particular, has enjoyed since the break up of the Soviet Union will not be repeated.

Firstly, the United States will continue to play a significant role for some time. However, and more importantly, there are other "players" who will be crucial global players and here I am not thinking about any of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) - although, as already indicated, China in particular will assert itself  -  but rather I am looking to the European Union and, providing a number of condtions can be met, it is the EU that will determine a more balanced new world order. It is outwith the scope of this post to discuss all of those "conditions" in detail. Nevertheless, one thing Europe will have to do is extend its influence into Asia. The new Europe will need to include Turkey.

This has become all too evident at a time when Turkey begins to flex its geopolitical muscles; rapproachment with Russia was, a couple of days ago, followed by the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and there is evidence to suggest that Turkey has found a new "best friend" in the Middle East in Syria with not only visa restrictions between the two countries falling but also, and more importantly, strategic cooperation become increasingly the order of the day. A cooperation that is evidenced by the latest agreement for a natural gas pipeline that was signed on the 13th of October. With the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline already informing Turkey of its geopolitical importance, the latest foreign policy initiatives by Turkey would appear to suggest that Ankara has become even more aware of its influence. Indeed, it is in line with this renewed self assertion on the part of  Ankara that we might understand Turkey cancelling a military drill with Israel recently and Israel's ultimately muted response to the cancellation would appear to suggest that it is lost neither on the Zionist state nor on America that Turkey is very much a crucial regional player.

It is this "regional player" that America very much needs in its own camp and for some time Washington, at every opportunity, has been prompting the EU to accept Turkey as a full member. However, recent diplomatic initiatives by Ankara would appear to suggest that Turkey is not necessarily a natural ally for the United States. Moreover, those initiatives also suggest that the European Union could very well benefit from accepting Turkey as a full member and this for reasons that are anything but altruistic. The inclusion of Turkey in the EU as soon as possible will ensure that there is a real counterweight to the United States and an Asian sphere that will become increasingly dominated by China. Yes, the EU should move towards one another and away from the United States and that can only be good for everyone.

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