Turkey should quit EU bid, says Erdogan 'guru'

'We'll never become a member', Minister for EU Affairs

26 September, 10:26

    Turkey Turkey "will probably never be an Eu member"

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA - After 45 years of waiting patiently at the door and eight of talks trudging forward at a snail's pace, Turkey has become embittered and has started to go vocal on a possible withdrawal of its membership candidature. Two figures linked to Islamic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have made public statements to this effect in recent days. For the first time a minister, Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis, said what many are thinking: Turkey ''will probably never be EU member''. Erdogan's chief advisor, Yigit Bulut, followed by saying that ''Turkey should immediately get rid of the European Union scenarios'', since the country could instead take on the leadership of the 'new world' coming into being in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Erdogan, nostalgic of Ottoman 'grandeur', would like to see Turkey as the new regional superpower and has long been less-than-enthusiastic about the 'EU scenario'. Nevertheless, in the first few years of his Islamic-conservative Justice and Development Party government he did bring in EU-leaning political and economic reform, earning EU support in the contest of wills against Kemalist military officers, seen as 'guardians' of the secular state. Since the 2011 elections, Erdogan has changed policy, the analyst Emre Uslu writes in Taraf. He has shifted his focus to the Middle East and begun to distance himself from the West.

    ''Erdogan's aim is to become the leader of the Middle East.'' He has broken off ties with Israel, got into stride with the 'post-Arab Spring' of Islamic movements, and backed the Sunni-majority uprising in Syria. These startegic choices, however, have proved to be mistakes. ''The Sunni axis with Mohamed Morsi fell with the ouster of the Egyptian president. In Syria, Erdogan was betting on a quick downfall of the regime and a Muslim Brotherhood victory.'' Turkey's strong stance in Syria and Egypt, its backing for whomever would fight against Assad - including Al Qaeda-linked groups - have weakened Turkish diplomacy and damaged relations with Russia and Iran, while the brutal crackdown on the Gezi Park protests severely impaired the prime minister's image at the international level.

    Meanwhile, the 'tragicomedy' of the EU membership process goes on. Since 2005 only one negotiations chapter out of a total of 35 has been closed. Polls show that most Europeans do not want a large Muslim country with 75 million inhabitants in the EU, and the issue of Cyprus - the northern half of which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974 - remains a sore point. In 11 years under an Islamic government, Turkey has changed. It is now the 17th largest economic power in the world. European Istanbul is no longer the center of the country's power.

    Anatolia has grown in importance and the Islamic, Asian, conservative and nationalist component has regained a voice and its pride through Erdogan. Only 44% of Turkish citizens still support the EU, compared with 73% in 2004. Most of Erdogan's voters now favour neo-Ottoman scenario: Turkey at the center of a vast sphere of influence stretching from Morocco to Turkmenistan - with its back to the EU. The idea frightens the secularists in the country, who took to the streets in mass in June against Erdogan, who consider relations with Europe a sort of ''insurance'' against the possibly of an ever more authoritarian and Islamic government. (ANSAmed).

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