On the whole, no. The mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, is right to pursue a policy, first enunciated by Ahmet Davutoglu, now foreign minister, of “zero problems with the neighbours”. This is a big improvement on previous governments that largely ignored their own backyard. Turkey remains a bastion of NATO, with the biggest army after the United States and a vital American air-force base at Incirlik. It is EU members like Cyprus, France and Germany—and not Turkey—that have done most to stall Turkish negotiations to join their club.
Is it right that the EU is appointing Turkish officials to influential policy positions, in Brussels, when the country is not yet a member state?
The Turkish prime minister’s recent tour of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya was meant to distract from his missteps during the Arab Spring. More importantly, it was aimed at convincing Turks that their country is a powerful regional player.
Another rally in Turkish Cyprus on Wednesday has added fuel to a squabble between Ankara and Turkish Cypriots who claim to be the victims of an austerity package, which includes salary cuts of up to 40 percent.
Anti-Turkey slogans and placards have become conspicuous above all else during the protests, irking Ankara, but experts claim the growing dissent in Turkish Cyprus is only about the economic package, not Turkey’s ties with the country.
November and December are important dates on the yearly calendar of events when it comes to relations between Ankara and Brussels. Each November the European Union executive, the European Commission, releases its annual progress report on the candidate country and in December a summit of EU leaders delivers the latest assessment of the year on the course of affairs regarding Turkey’s membership process.
Mr Gul insists his country’s European ambition is undimmed by such sentiments. The Islamist AKP government has lately turned eastwards, fixing some troubled relationships with near neighbours and claiming a role as a powerful regional actor. It has fallen out with Israel and voted against United Nations sanctions on Iran. Ahmet Davutoglu, its hyperactive foreign minister, sometimes sounds a little too keen for western tastes on a new Ottoman Caliphate.
To the president’s mind, there is nothing here that subtracts from the aim of joining the EU. He says this is an ambition transcending politics in Ankara at any given moment. Turkey is taking a strategic view – looking 20, 30, even 50 years ahead.
Ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted under Article 301, which penalized anyone who publicly denigrated “Turkishness,” the military, courts or government, in 2006, and was assassinated soon afterward.
Despite being listed among countries that showed “high human development,” Turkey still placed behind all European Union member countries and other EU candidates in a UN rating released on Thursday.
The assessment came in the Human Development Index (HDI), an annual measure of well-being that has been published by the UN Development Program (UNDP) for the past 20 years, which combines individual economic prosperity with education levels and life expectanc