25 December 2006

1320) European Union, Turkey And Armenia: Historical Facts And Real Interests by Ruben Safrastyan

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com After prolonged confidential discussions and numerous mutually exclusive public announcements on the 3rd of October 2005 in Luxemburg the EU member states made a decision to begin negotiations with Turkey on the latter’s full membership to the EU.

The outlined principles of negotiating process and the final text of the document have already been published and approved both by the EU and Turkey. The fact that the negotiations have began and the existence of such a document as well as the complicated diplomatic developments following October the 3rd have an important political and geopolitical significance the analyses and interpretation of which will let us not only have a clear idea about Europe-Turkey relations’ up-to-date peculiarities but also about the vision in Europe prevailing in European leading countries at present. . . .


The EU-Turkey relations are very important for Armenia as European integration has been declared one of the main strategic aims in our country’s foreign policy. Besides, many Armenians hope that during the negotiations with Turkey the EU will exert pressure on Turkey for the latter to give up its “compulsion” policy towards Armenia, open its border with Armenia and recognize the Armenian genocide.

The victory of Anglo-American diplomacy

Since 1830s Great Britain’s diplomacy adopted a policy of preserving Ottoman Empire’s territorial integrity as it was afraid that the newly independent states appeared in case of the letter’s division, can fall under the influence of continental Europe’s countries as well as Russian Empire which will weaken Britain’s position. In the history of diplomacy this policy is known as the policy of preserving “status quo”. Its constituent part was Ottoman Turkey’s inclusion in the system of European countries and realizing pro-western reforms inside it, which would provide a chance to improve the condition of subject Christian peoples and halt their military actions against Turkish despotism.

In the present conditions also the British diplomacy considers it necessary to include Turkey in Europe’s policy and economy, accepting it into the EU as a full member. British politicians think that in this case an opportunity will be provided to exert pressure on it, so creating for Turkey with Muslim population an exclusive status in the world. There is a threat that the refused Turkey may become unpredictable and cause danger to the interests of the West.

But acting all alone Great Britain has no chances to reach its diplomatic aims in today’s Europe, that’s why it is in close cooperation with the US sharing the above mentioned approaches. The US tough pressure exerted on faltering European countries at the last moment fulfilled the Britain’s purposeful and flexible diplomacy and had a decisive role in making a positive decision.

Unfortunately the European leading countries mainly shared that approach. Taking into consideration the negative attitude in those countries to the Turkey’s membership as well as the numerous threats and difficulties that membership might cause some of them tried to maneuver; their leaders made mutually exclusive announcements but at last joined Great Britain.

From this standpoint it’s worth mentioning France’s position: weeks before the Luxemburg negotiations it came to a secret agreement with the English and refused all its reservations and preconditions publicly declared by that country’s leaders for many times thus strongly predetermining the final positive decision to make negotiations with Turkey.

Among European political powers only German Christian Democrats were able to suggest an alternative to the English approach. Turkey was considered the EU close ally which was to become a subject of negotiations for that country. That suggestion was also adopted by a number of European authoritative powers with similar trends. Anyway, Christian Democrats’ comparative failure in September’s parliamentary elections and their incapability to create a uniform government didn’t provide an opportunity for the supporters of that position to be inflexible in their suggestion and to exert serious pressure on their governments in this situation.

Remaining on its own, as a supporter of this position, Austria made use of this state of affairs to solve the tactical problems of its diplomacy. As a result of discussions it refused its attitude concerning to Turkey’s status as a privileged ally and got its own way as the EU made a decision on resuming interrupted negotiations on membership with Austria’s coreligionist Croatia.

The Greek (Greece-Cyprus) diplomacy made use of the problem to give a favorable decision to a more important problem from its standpoint, ensuring Cyprus membership to NATO. It didn’t use its right of veto but instead got Turkey’s verbal promise not to hinder and the US verbal promise to support it.

So it can be reported about one more victory of Anglo-American diplomacy in Europe.

The prospective of the united Europe and Turkey

The problem of Turkey’s membership made the gradually deepening differences between the united Europe’s initial prospective and its present interpretation more clear. When the post-war Europe’s Christian Democratic political powers were planning the future union of European countries their main starting point was the ideology of religious-spiritual unity. Later on was also introduced Charles De Gaulle’s vision on “Making a powerful union made of separate European countries”. During the last years the EU pivotal countries, France and German, began thinking of giving that organization a status of a center to make some geopolitical and geo-strategic decisions in the present day world, which envisaged the enlargement of the union to the East from one hand and a higher level of integration and transmission of state sovereignty’s some attributes to the EU institutions on the other. In that way was framed the EU constitution which particularly envisages the realization of united security and foreign policy by the EU member states. The abrogation of the EU constitution by the French population was a strong blow to the supporters of that approach.

The supporters of alternative approach, which formed the minority by that time, immediately became more active under the leadership of Great Britain. According to them the EU should be based on the ground of the idea of economic interests so becoming a zone of free trade the participants of which should follow certain rules of the game, in particular, respect the principle of the law’s priority, human rights and the rights of minorities. This approach considers the realization of joint security and foreign policy unrealistic and refuses to recognize the primary role of spiritual values. In the framework of this approach Turkey’s membership to the EU is very appropriate.

There is one more circumstance which can’t but be taken into consideration. The British diplomacy has never been interested in the privilege of the unity idea in the continental Europe as it considered that it would cause threat to Europe’s security. If we interpret the present processes from this standpoint it becomes clear that Turkey’s presence in the EU is advantageous for Great Britain as in that way is reduces the role of the French-German axis in that organization. It is clear by itself that this approach is shared by the US which is not interested in the EU to have a presumable opportunity to prejudice the unipolar world order system which supposes politically weakly integrated EU. Besides having an ally like Turkey in the EU, which is greatly dependence on it, the US may anticipate having more influence on the EU. It is not by chance that the EU newly accepted East-European members, strictly following the US policy path, implicitly support Turkey’s nomination.

Turkey: European integration and inner disruptions

The attitude to the EU membership in Turkey is far from being unequivocally positive. According to the Gallup pall only three-fourth of the country’s population speaks out for, which already maintains the above mentioned assertions. However, according to the latest information published lately, only a little more then the half of the population prefers Turkey’s membership to the EU. The existence of such information even gives way for speaking about certain diversification.

Even the army which has traditionally supported all the pro-western undertakings today is divided in opinions. Its leaders are afraid that becoming the EU member Turkey will have to limit the military acting of its leaders in the country’s political life, besides it will be prohibited to use force on the Kurd rebels.

In this problem there are disruptions even inside the ruling pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (JDP) the leaders of which see their political future in the positive settlement of Turkey’s membership to the EU.

On the 3rd of October, when the foreign ministers of European countries were discussing the versions of the documents on beginning negotiations with Turkey in strained atmosphere; the situation was tenser at the meeting among some leading members of the party - the prime minister and JDP leader R.T. Erdogan. Many of the participants threatened to leave JDP in case Turkey agreed to begin negotiations with the EU on the ground of the principles put forward in the above mentioned document. Erdogan managed to save JDP’s disruption thanks to his keen and crafty political approaches. The supporters of the EU membership think that in that case they will make use of the advantages of the anticipated democratic reforms and will liquidate the restrictions on Islam introduced by the founders of the Republic-Kemalists, but their opponents urge that in case of the membership Muslim Turkey will get under the influence of Christian Europe.

Anther important political power in the country, People’s Republican Party, representing the Kemialists, is also against to begin negotiations on the ground of that document, and chauvinistic, pan-Turkic National movement and Islamic the Happiness party are implicitly against the EU membership. The nationalists’ negative approach to the EU membership is conditioned with the fear that making use of the EU-required reforms the Kurds will create the necessary prerequisites for separating from Turkey and getting independence. They don’t exclude that the EU can exert pressure on Turkey concerning to Armenia’s problem as well reducing it into a unilateral compromise. Both the senior military officials and nationalists are against making any concessions in Cyprus problem. They think that the Turkish troops must remain there guaranteeing Turkey’s predominance in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

The EU membership supporters are the representatives of those segments of Turkish capital combined with the European capital. It has numerous supporters among population: the letters hope that they will be provided a chance to live and work in Europe.

The present situation in Turkey proves that the fundamental vision of mono-national state and population put forward by the Kemalists is failing and the European integration will only speed this process. Our interests and expectations

It is in our interests for Turkey to recognize Armenian genocide, open his borders with Armenia and refuse from its “compulsion” policy before becoming the EU member.

The leaders of the EU member states, the representatives of the EU different institutions have spoke with favorable declarations and Europarliament has adopted favorable resolutions for us, but in the document on the EU-Turkey negotiations there is no any clause directly concerning to Armenia, in comparison with Cyprus. From that standpoint the only favorable clause for us in the document may be the requirement for the Turkey to improve its relations with neighbor countries. It means that today the EU doesn’t consider it to be a primary problem.

It will be interesting to draw parallels of the diplomatic manifestations of the Armenian case at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. One must confess that solely from informal-documentary standpoint the situation of that period was more favorable for the Armenians as the necessity to give solution to the Armenian Case, though the letter was presented in a strained form, was presented in many international legal documents with the formulation of necessary reforms in the Western Armenia starting with San-Stefano and Berlin agreements and with Ottoman Empire’s signature.

Today there isn’t any international legal document with Turkey’s signature and committing it to any direct obligations to regulate its relations with Armenia. Unfortunately the declarations made by the European leaders weren’t reflected in above mentioned document as well, which, as a matter of fact, is a list of the requirements by the EU to Turkey and the Europarliament’s decisions have only consulting character for the EU member states.

However at the present situation we have a very important privilege of principal character to our ancestors. It is the sovereignty of Armenian Republic which provides a chance to carry fundamentally new policy of higher level in international arena. If we add the organized and effective spade-work, the most important part of which should be lobbyist work in the European capitals, it will be possible to include our requirements to Turkey into the list of the EU requirements. Certainly the possibility of realizing that aim is not that big. However we have got at least ten years as the EU-Turkey negotiations are supposed to last that long, and that isn’t a short period of time.

The alternative to that, trying to solve the problems with Turkey through bilateral negotiations, will lead to the deadlock, as there isn’t any avoidance that the elite of that country is going to change its tough, slighting position to the Armenians and Armenia.

Profile | Dr. Ruben Safrastyan
Assoc. Prof., Dr. Ruben Safrastyan is Director of Department of Turkish Studies at Institute of Oriental Studies, Armenian National Academy of Sciences. He is also Appointed Professor at the "Acharyan" University.

In the past, he served as a Counselor of the Armenian Embassy in Germany and was the Deputy Director of the Department of Political Analysis for the Office of the President of Armenia.

Ruben Safrastyan's current research interests focus on the problems of Turkish politics and ideology, Armenian-Turkish interstate relations, as well as problems of genesis of genocide. During last years he has received Humboldt (Germany), Fulbright (USA), and International Policy (Hungary) fellowships and conducted researches at the universities of Bochum and Berkeley.

His most recent publications include books: "It Is Impossible To Set Up Barriers Between Neighbors in the XXI Century...": Armenia and Turkey in Regional Developments (2003); Proto-genocide: Problems of Theory and History (2005, forthcoming) and articles: "Turkey and Eurasia in the Aftermath of the September 11 Tragedy: Some Observations on Geopolitics and Foreign Policy", Caucasus and Central Asia Newsletter: The Caucasus and Central Asia Program at the University of California, Berkeley, 2001; "The Armenian-Turkish Relations: An Attempt of Theoretical Interpretation from the Standpoints of the Realistic School", Directions of the Armenian Foreign Policy: Collection of Articles, 2002; "On the Ideological Substantiation of Turkey's Regional Policy: Concept of Eurasia", The South Caucasus: Regional Security and Stability, 2004; "The Return of 'Grey Wolves': Conservative Party in Turkish Politics (1983-1985)", The Countries and Peoples of the Near and Middle East. Vol. XXIII, 2004; The Significance of the Armenian-Turkish Border, Armenia-Turkey: Open Conversation (2005).

Ruben Safrastyan is editor of TURKISH AND OTTOMAN STUDIES, , Yerevan : Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia E: rsafrastyan@sci.am

Yerevan State University, Jerevan, Armenia

Faculty of Oriental Studies | Turkish Studies
The courses on Oriental Studies were founded 1923 Yerevan State University in Armenia. SU from its very foundation.. Currently this faculty offers studies at three chairs - Persian Studies, Arabic Studies and Turkish Studies. According to the modern demands in the area of Oriental Studies Hindi, Afghani, Sanskrit, Belujian, Kurdish and Hebrew languages are currently taught at this faculty.

The Goal of the Turkish Studies are:
The philological knowledge of the modern Turkish, Ottoman, Arabic language and the modern Persian. Furthermore the ability to run scientific study of current and historical issues in Turkish and ottoman history, literature and cultural history.

Contact: Turkish Studies
University of Yerevan Faculty Oriental Studies
1 Alex Manoogian street
Yerevan Armenia

Contact: Professor Alexander Safaryan | T: +37410 57-33-24 | E: info@ysu.am

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