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Eurasian Persuasion: Ejected by EU? Slide into Central Asia!

Greetings again from Ankara my Plaid Friends!  On my way back from Pakistan, I felt the overwhelming urge for some raki and Turkish Delight (the confection has taken such a bad rap since that little lying bastard Edmund wanted it in ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’)…aslan sütü and lokum.  What a delightful pair to have while in Turkey! I do love the lion’s milk!  Yeah baby!    And Turkey is back on my radar screen again already due to some current events.  Dig it:

Turkey stakes a Central Asian claim
US to push Sarkozy on Turkey’s EU processBetween Turkey and the EU, two plus two does not necessarily equal four
EU excited and worried by Sarkozy

Now I’ve chatted about the EU’s apprehension for Turkish ascension before on this blog, so I need not go back into those details (see EU turkeys talk turkey with Turkey ). But what I want to blather about today is what I’ve been telling my classes for years: Turkey is on a pivot point in modern history, and it looks as if a direction is soon to be chosen…if not downright forced on it!  What pivot do I speak of?  I’m referring to one of two directions Turkey will take to team up with in terms of economies, cultures, and politics.  Those two team choices are the EU or Central Asia/Middle East. West or East. Could the choices be made more geographically distinct? 

Turkey is a population powerhouse, Turkey is a growing economic power, and Turkey is increasingly a vital hub for the international flow of oil and natural gas.  Turkey will be a leader in the 21st century.  The question is: of what?  Will they be accepted into the EU and embrace the West even more, or will they be snubbed by the EU and turn around and become a power broker of a Central Asian/Middle Eastern coalition?

Ottoman Designs on Central Asian Squad?

An Ottoman Empire Part Deux? Seems increasingly likely. Why?

As a very savvy commenter pointed out in a previous blog (see Fuck ‘Freedom Fries’: France is Freakin’ Back, Fools!), the election of anti-EU-enlargement Nicolas Sarkozy in France is very likely to put a huge damper on Turkish movement forward with EU entry.  But that French fairy is only the latest nail in the coffin of Turkey‘s EU talks: Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel is also vehemently opposed to the Turks, and the likely-next-Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon ‘Brown Sugar’ Brown, may be no proponent of Ankara either. And this ‘EU Dream Team’ of leaders are all youngish and recently-elected, so they are going to be around for while—which may mean Turkey won’t be!

As pointed out numerous times by the Avenger, the US is HUGELY in favor of Turkey staying staunchly in the western sphere of influence, and they are pushing hard for the EU to embrace their Turkish ally. Why would this be? Turkey is a NATO member, and one that has been of central and downright critical importance for the War on Terrorism: Afghan Chapter.  The US also sees Turkey as the only successful Islamic democracy in the region to be emulated by its Middle Eastern neighbors, so Uncle Sam is keen on keeping Turkey in their corner of the ring.  Simply put, without Turkish help, the war on terrorism in the Middle East and Central Asia becomes seriously hampered, if not outright hamstrung. 

The other consideration here is that Turkey is increasingly becoming a pivotal power player in the energy game too.  Long story short:

  • The EU imports virtually all of its oil and natural gas needs…
  • Central Asia has been increasing its output of energy radically in the last decade, with lots more to come…
  • Russia has been building an energy empire on which Europe is currently addicted to…
  • Energy from Central Asia is transported to the EU thru Russia and Turkey
  • Many in the EU are getting very worried about their over-reliance on Russian energy, which increases Russian geopolitical influence…
  • Thus, including Turkey in the EU would shift the energy influence to a country on their own team…

And therefore shutting out Turkey will further shut out strategic ties to their energy sources. Don’t sound too smart to me, but whatever. Perhaps the EU will go totally green in the next ten years and never use oil again. Yeah…..right.  As of this writing, it appears that the EU fears negative repercussions of Turkish entry in the EU much much much more than it fears losing an ally on the anti-terrorism campaign and an ally in their energy strategy.  Tricky business. Tricky business indeed.  I wonder if the ‘EU Dream Team’ will still be glad they excluded the Turks if Turkey turns around and starts to put the energy crunch on them…like the Russians have been.

But watch out!  This is what I really want you to see!  The Turks are not going to roll over and die if they don’t get in the EU, and Central Asia may be where they will re-focus their foreign policy and diplomacy.  Why there? Several reasons:

Turk Talk Time: Places where the Language is Turkic

1)Cultural and historic ties—the ethnic group called ‘the Turks’ are from Central Asia originally, and they share linguistic and religious commonalities with their Asian buddies. Ever wonder how Turkmenistan got its name?
2)As pointed out above, Central Asia is producing a shitload of energy…and a serious percentage of that shitload flows thru Turkey to get to the rest of the world. Turkey would like to see even more flow thru their territory, thus increasing their geopolitical hand while decreasing Russia‘s—‘cause whoever has or controls the oil of the future controls a lot!
3)While Turkey may be looked upon as a poor and backwards stepchild within the EU framework, it would be a true leader of states to their east—being richer, more technologically advanced and more politically stable than virtually any country east of them to China! And speaking of China, Turkey‘s involvement as a power player in Central Asia would also cut into China‘s influence as well. The ‘Great Game’ is back on!

So Europe has got some thinking to do, and Turkey does as well.  Many in Turkey are becoming totally disenfranchised with the whole bullshit EU entry process, and many have given up on it already.  But that don’t mean that they’ve given up aspirations to be a regional power! Let’s watch the Turks carefully this year to see where new relationships may be blossoming…I personally bet that the next President or Prime Minister of Turkey will soon go on a whirlwind tour of Central Asia states trying to sign as many trade deals as he can…but we shall see.

I won’t lie to you Turkey: you’ve got your work cut out for you trying to establish ties in Central Asia, cause the SCO has beat you to the punch. SCO? What the hell is an SCO? The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not to be messed with!  Back the fuck up off the SCO!  Maybe I better fly from here to China and tell you a little bit more about these guys in my next blog….


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