Finland’s plain-spoken foreign minister made no effort to hide the meaning in his words when he said: “The singular and group foreign policies of EU members have not been as effective as the foreign policy Turkey has been following on its own. Turkey is today one of the five most active countries in the world when it comes to foreign policy.”
It is, of course, quite pleasing to hear these sorts of statements from voices in European politics, which seems, for the most part, to be guided by politicians whose heads are buried in the sand. This statement as well as the recent meeting is a clear sign of the building realization in EU circles of the importance of the Turkey factor. So, without dragging this on longer than necessary, we would also like to clarify now that, in looking at the radical changes occurring in the world’s power centers, it is clear that there can be no “effective European policy” that does not include Turkey.
Turkey is the key to Europe being able to access the “depths of Asia.” And for Europe, what the depths of Asia really mean is the critical energy sources that lie therein. Turkey is a nation of vital importance to Europe’s security. Not only because Turkey is an “island of stability” within its own region but because it regulates its own region and is a factor in reducing the tension that could lead to explosions and clashes at any moment. Europeans have been living for the past 50 years in the wake of World War II, in relative prosperity and security. But there is no guarantee that the next 50 years will pass in the same way. This is important not only from the perspective of “prosperity” but also “security.”
This is a reality now recognized by northern European EU members such as Sweden and Finland, but it is a reality that was recognized much earlier by southern countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Thus, for the continuation of peace, security and prosperity on the European continent, the inclusion of the Turkey factor in this equation is mandatory. The political leadership in both Berlin and Paris are stubbornly closing their eyes to this reality. Let us see just how much longer they can continue to ignore it, though.
The enormous economic and democratic leaps taken by Turkey in the past decade have proven that Turkey is a nation that would in fact bring great contributions and support to Europe on both economic and democratic fronts. Just the mere fact of Turkey’s efforts to take initiatives with regard to its Roma citizens and to implement legal rulings that would help integrate the Roma better into society -- at a time when the French leadership under Sarkozy has undertaken racist moves to “send the Roma back to their country” -- demonstrates the importance of Turkey’s place for Europe.
It is also quite notable that, during a period when European economies are narrowing and when growth levels are suppressed, Turkey’s economy follows only China’s in terms of rapidity of growth.