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From Sochi to Euromaidan: Where is Turkey along Europe’s Eastern Fault-Lines?

From Sochi to Euromaidan: Where is Turkey along Europe’s Eastern Fault-Lines?

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This brief assesses whether Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and the West is sustainable given the pressures from within Turkey to take a stance against Moscow’s policies, and in light of Turkey’s Euro-Atlantic vocation.
This brief assesses whether Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and the West is sustainable given the pressures from within Turkey to take a stance against Moscow’s policies, and in light of Turkey’s Euro-Atlantic vocation.

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Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Mar 17, 2014
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Summary:
This brief assesses whether Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and the West is sustainable given the pressures from within Turkey to take a stance against Moscow’s policies, and in light of Turkey’s Euro-Atlantic vocation.
Analysis
From Sochi to Euromaidan: Where is Turkey along Europe’s Eastern Fault-Lines?
by Diba Nigar Göksel
March 17, 2014
Analysis
W󰁡󰁳󰁨󰁩󰁮󰁧󰁴󰁯󰁮, DC • B󰁥󰁲󰁬󰁩󰁮 • P󰁡󰁲󰁩󰁳 B󰁲󰁵󰁳󰁳󰁥󰁬󰁳 • B󰁥󰁬󰁧󰁲󰁡󰁤󰁥 •
 
A󰁮󰁫󰁡󰁲󰁡 B󰁵󰁣󰁨󰁡󰁲󰁥󰁳󰁴 • W󰁡󰁲󰁳󰁡󰁷 •
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OFFICES
Introduction
Geopolitical rivalry and a clash o political values between Russia and the EU has sharpened in their shared neighborhood. Te battle within and over Ukraine has recently been the most drama-ridden case. Te Euro-pean policy community has demon-strated a relatively united stance on the side o Ukraine’s demonstrators, albeit fitully. Until the crisis swung to the Crimean peninsula where urkic atars live, it was noteworthy that there was no statement about the crisis in Ukraine rom urkey’s political leadership. And while urkish citizens o Crimean descent have been vocal about the risks posed by Russia’s intervention into Ukraine, urkey’s pro-European civil society has been relatively detached rom the debate. Besides economic and energy-related interests, there are also political complexities involved, such as the shared concern o the urkish and Russian establishment about the potential ripple effect o pro-European protests. Accordingly, pro-government media in urkey drew parallels between the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kyiv and the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, saying that the same “Western plot” was being employed in both cases. On March 16, in a vote that most ethnic atars boycotted, Crimeans  voted overwhelmingly to secede rom Ukraine and join Russia. Te risk o conflict escalation remains signifi-cant. Pressure or urkey to take a stance against Moscow’s policies in the region is likely to mount. Tis brie assesses whether urkey’s balancing act between Russia and the West is sustainable.
A Foot in Both Camps
As long as the countries in this neigh-borhood are stuck in between Brussels and Moscow, urkey’s interests lie in keeping its oot in both camps. It is welcome as an economic and strategic power in this neighborhood primarily by those countries or parties that are seeking a “counterbalance” to Moscow. Yet, Ankara’s sof power also flourishes where the EU alls short. Brussels’ demands or democratic rule without a clearly articulated prospect or mean-ingul integration leaves a vacuum or urkey to fill. In other words, Ankara’s sof power has flourished in coun-tries that are seeking to curb Russia’s economic and strategic hold, yet are also challenged by Brussels’ condition-ality or European integration.
 
Analysis
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Analysis
urkish big business vested interests play into Ankara’s conundrum, as could be observed during the Sochi Winter Olympics in February when urkish Prime Minister Recep ayyip Erdoğan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about opportunities in the construction sector while urkish citizens o Circassian origin were protesting in Istanbul. In March, while the urkish oreign minister stated that urkey would protect Crimean atars, the urkish energy minister underlined that the crisis was between the EU and Russia, so urkey’s relations with Russia would not be affected. urkey’s space or maneuverability may narrow as the tug-o-war between Moscow and Brussels evolves. All six countries in this post-Soviet region, as well as Russia itsel, ace internal schisms based on economic, security, political, and identity/culture considerations. While Georgia and Moldova tilt distinctly toward Europe in terms o their civilizational” choice and geopolitical alignment, Armenia has increasingly consolidated its place in Moscow’s orbit, Belarus is firmly in Moscow’s grip, and Azerbaijan is managing a balancing act. While all are stuck somewhat in between, the ault-lines that will define a medium-term timerame are becoming more distinct. urkey needs to keep the longer term in sight. While a wide range o scenarios could play out, i the mental maps o today were to unold, some Eastern Partnership countries could integrate more deeply with this bloc, while the others would be consolidated under Moscow’s Eurasia Union. Where would this leave urkey? We may be entering an era when coherence in urkey’s domestic and oreign policies will be called or.
Common Sense of Destiny
On a strategic level, urkey is contributing to the European integration o the Caucasus, most notably with the pipeline, railway, and logistics centers that plug Azerbaijan, Georgia, and urkey into continental Europe. Driven primarily at the initiative o these three countries, this integration serves European strategic interests too. However, advocates o European integration in the Eastern Partnership region express disillusionment about not hearing solidarity or their cause rom urkey. I those struggling or liberal democracies in Eastern European societies today do not hear rom their urkish counterparts, this will leave a mark — and not a positive one — on their uture orientation vis-a-vis urkey, i and when they prevail as political elite in their countries. In the long term, urkish interests are aligned with those o the EU in this neighborhood: the solution o conflicts, oligarchic structures coming under the rule o law, and the establishment o well-governed democracies. However, unless and until balances o power in the region shif toward the West, Ankara preers not to aggravate Moscow. However, depending on the nature o sanctions against Russia and the NAO response, the crisis in Ukraine could challenge Ankaras effort not take sides. In any case, the urkish leadership should rerain rom its common public displays o close riendship with Russian counterparts, and urkish civil society can partially compensate or urkeys Euro-skeptic image in the region by portraying solidarity and shared values with their like minded counterparts in the region, given their shared interest in Europeanization. One reason or the disconnect between urkey’s pro-Euro-pean civic activists and their counterparts in countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine is that they simply do not know each other. urks ofen assume their European aspirations are artificially “planted” by Western powers or geostrategic leverage. Lef-wing segments o the human rights community in urkey that define themselves as “anti-imperialist” are suspicious o Western meddling in Ukraine, as are Islamic conservatives. It is unortunate that the EU has not created opportunities or urkish civil society to engage in the existing structured discussions among civil society in Eastern Partnership countries that oster a common sense o destiny such as the Civil Society Forum.
1
 Given the shared objectives among urkish counterparts — or visa ree travel to the Schengen zone and policies against LGB discrimination — bringing them into the old o related exchanges makes sense. urkey’s official development aid and cultural outreach largely ocuses on “relatives” abroad — people with kinship, linguistic, and religious links to urkey, including the Muslim minorities and the Abkhaz o Georgia, urkic-speaking Moldovans, and Crimea’s atars. Tis has created the impression that urkey is trying to act as an alterna-
1 This author has elaborated on this issue in Turkish Civil Society: From Black Sheep to Synergy in the Black Sea http://www.gmfus.org/galleries/ct_publication_attachments/Goskel_CanTurkeyInspire_Sept11_Pt2.pdf 

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