Sarkozy had blocked five chapters in Turkey’s EU membership negotiations. Hollande’s attitude toward Turkey’s EU membership has yet to be seen, and his attitude in this regard will serve as a litmus test. On the other hand, the likelihood of Pierre Muscovici, who is supportive of Turkey’s EU membership, being appointed as the new foreign minister is raising Ankara’s hopes. However, the possibility that Hollande may adopt sharper attitudes than Sarkozy regarding the Armenian issue and, as the former leaders of his party had done, with respect to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliations is creating serious concerns in Turkey. In particular, the concerns that Turkish-French ties may yet see tensions further heightened because of the Armenian issue as the 100th anniversary of the 1915 incidents nears cannot be underestimated.
In Greece, which is suffering from the worst economic crisis in its history, center-right and left parties considerably lost support in the parliamentary elections, as expected. The elections held over the weekend failed to offer hope for a solution for the country, which is again on the brink of total economic collapse. As no one is willing to form the new government due to the current political scene, which is further fragmented by the economic crisis, a new election in June seems inevitable. Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy (ND) party, which secured the highest number of votes with 18.8 percent, failed to form the new government on Monday. The likelihood of the country holding snap elections in June was reinforced. Yet, it is obvious that re-holding elections will bring no solution. Indeed, if the elections are held again, this will probably help to strengthen the far right and far left. In the Greek parliamentary elections, a neo-Nazi racist party -- namely, Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn -- saw a boom in its electoral support, and this is not the only indication of a rising far right in Greece. The right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, which has reacted to the trio that are effectively managing the bankrupt Greek economy -- the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) -- is also on the rise. There is no need to explain why the rise of the far right translates into losses for Greece, a country that is unable to pay its debts, and Turkey, a country searching for peace and stability.
In the elections held in our close neighbor, Armenia, the already-problematic status quo was largely preserved. In other words, all of Turkey’s problems concerning Armenia will continue without change. The recent Armenian elections will be remembered for the questions raised about their transparency and fairness. Suffering from the paradox of “conscious voters and weak democracy” with its politicized public, Armenia, like other ex-Soviet republics, continues to suffer from a failure to fully internalize democracy.
On the other hand, in Serbia, one of the major actors of the crisis in the Balkans, which was frozen by the cease-fire obtained with the Dayton Agreement of 1995, Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic were the winners of the first round. These two strong candidates are entitled to compete in the second round, slated for May 20. It is our biggest hope that the results of this round will not harm the fragile stability in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Of course, the political developments that concern Turkey are not restricted to these countries. A sort of election was held in Syria, where violence and oppression continue to rule as well. No one has any hope that the results of the election from which dissident groups and protesters were banned will lead to any improvement in the anti-democratic nature of the Bashar al-Assad regime that counters people’s demands with violence. As a matter of fact, this is not the first time the Syrian people have gone to the polls. The question is whether the ballot boxes placed in front of some of the Syrian people last weekend were really democratic. I don’t think anyone, including the United Nations, is convinced of the democratic quality of any elections in Syria.
In this context, what happened to the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose policies are of concern both to Turkey and Turks living in Germany, deserves special mention. In the parliamentary elections held in Germany’s northern province of Schleswig-Holstein, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) secured the highest number of votes, but as its coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), suffered a big loss, the coalition government of the CDU and FDP lost power in this state. Both the election defeat of Sarkozy, who was known to act in perfect harmony in opposing Turkey’s EU membership, developing joint policies against the European debt crisis and sharing the EU leadership, and the loss of a local government in Schleswig-Holstein are serious blows to Merkel.
Our big northern neighbor, Russia, saw an important development on Monday as Vladimir Putin, who won the presidential elections in late 2011, made a comeback to the Kremlin after a hiatus of four years with an extremely sumptuous oath-taking ceremony. It is no secret that Putin is more hawkish than his predecessor in his foreign policy approaches. It is also clear that with the re-election of Putin to president, Russia will adopt harsher stances in the face of the issues involving Syria, Iran and the Caucasus, as well as on other problems that relate to Turkey’s because of its close vicinity. I think the only advantage available to Turkey is the friendship between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Putin, who are unfairly likened to each other in the international media, as well as the recent tremendous rapprochement between the two countries.
In sum, while all of the countries and nations that were mentioned above stay where they are, their political preferences and developments that appeared over the weekend, and earlier this week in nearby countries, make it inevitable that Turkey will re-discuss the positions of these countries in the framework of Turkey’s regional and international policies.