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 timerame 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 unold, 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 preers not to aggravate Moscow. However, depending on the nature o sanctions against Russia and the NAO response, the crisis in Ukraine could challenge Ankara’s eﬀort not take sides. In any case, the urkish leadership should rerain rom its common public displays o close riendship with Russian counterparts, and urkish civil society can partially compensate or urkey’s 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 unortunate 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.
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-