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Here is an opinion that I have seen dropped in a few different threads and discussions relating to Turkey. What should be the present day state of relations between Turkey and the west? Certainly, its role in containing Russia would be as relevant to present day NATO as back though the Cold War ... but one might question the country's commitment to that role today. This article looks beyond the collective defence relationship and asks questions about where the economic/trade relations should be. The author spends a good portion of his time living as a neighbour to Turkey, so that has likely coloured his view. But is he far off the mark?
http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-turkey-is-not-a-good-fit-for-european-union-or-nato-1.22355123Opinion: Turkey is not a good fit for European Union or NATO
05 Sep 2017
Recent events in Turkey should give the West pause to reconsider its application to join the European Union, and its present status as a NATO ally.
The attempted coup by a rebel group within Turkey’s military on July 15, 2016, has shaken up Ankara and the rest of Turkey. In memory of this event, the Bosphorus Bridge has been renamed July 15 Martyrs Bridge, and adorned with a plaque with the names of those who died there opposing the attempted military takeover.
This insurrection has also deeply affected Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, who has taken extreme measures to punish those involved in the attempted coup, whether near or far. Erdogan believes that Fethullah Gulen, a former friend and colleague, was the prime instigator with hopes of taking over the country’s leadership.
The fact that Gulen — exiled from Turkey — resides in Pennsylvania, has a wide following in Turkey and other parts of the world, and opposes Erdogan in many of his policy decisions has irked the president to the point of labelling Gulen a terrorist and traitor. This has driven Erdogan to seek Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. to try him for high treason for his alleged part in the failed coup. To date, the extradition hasn’t come about.
Turkey’s acceptance into NATO has been questioned in the past for several reasons, but particularly for the fact that it is the arch-enemy of its neighbour, Greece, also a NATO ally. The two countries have many historic scores to settle, and the island of Cyprus has long been a battleground of sorts between them.
One cannot forget that Canadian troops were members of UN forces in Cyprus to keep the two NATO allies apart (March 1964 to June 1993) when the crisis escalated to the point of all-out war between them.
To add to the antagonism, the EU’s repeated rejection of Turkey as a member has caused resentment — especially Erdogan’s — toward Europe and has manifested itself in more demands in recent negotiations between the two. Turkey now “holds the hammer” in the migration crisis and has threatened to open the flood gates if its demands are not met.
To appease Erdogan, the EU has overlooked his extreme demands, even when the terms border on blackmail.
Many members of the EU have long-held qualms about Turkey’s entry into the economic union on varied grounds, which include political, cultural, religious and economic divergences. These differences go back decades, indeed centuries, and illustrate the great cultural divide between Europe and Asia — differences that might be insurmountable.
For those of us who live in Eastern Europe, one knows very well that when one crosses over the Bosphorus from Europe to Asia that one is entering a completely different world. The chasm might be too great and is most notably illustrated in the Turkish saying: “Time is not money,” opposite of the Western belief that: “Time is money.”
NATO hotly pursued Turkey as an ally at the end of the Second World War in an effort to contain the Stalinist-controlled Soviet Union — and for no other reason. Today, NATO often finds itself at odds with this member’s political, economic and military alliances. Contrary to NATO preferences, Erdogan has suggested an economic alliance with the Shanghai Economic Union in retaliation for the EU’s repeated rebuffs.
Turkey also has more recent military alliances with Russia, the present-day arch-enemy of NATO in Europe and Eastern Europe. Such glaring differences, persistent inconsistencies, and diametrically opposed stances in economic and military viewpoints put it at odds with the West, and place Turkey in a marginal position relative to Western objectives.
What Westerners fail to grasp is that our views and perceptions of the world are notably different from those of people in the Middle East, Asia and Central Asia. The West’s dream of inching its way into the mainstream thought and fabric of Eastern society is destined for failure.
The old adage that “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet” rings with a harsh reality.
Dave Harrison is a retired teacher and writer who divides his time between Chilliwack and Ruse, Bulgaria.