Is the transformative power of Europe back?
13 September 2021
Enlargement used to be the superpower of Europe. It was like the reverse of migration – instead of individuals leaving their countries and moving to Europe, it moved Europe to them. If your country accepted the Acquis, Europe was telling you that it was going to help transform your country into a European version of itself. This was a kind of empire building by consent. Then Europe lost both its interest and its ability to transform its neighbors.
The Problem with Afghan Reconstruction
24 August 2021
After spending around $40 billion a year, the Americans have realized the futility of their efforts in nation building in Afghanistan. Nothing much has changed in the country during their twenty years trying to tame it. Afghanistan’s people still do not define themselves as Afghans, but rather as Pashtun, Tajik or Uzbek. So it’s time to “liquidate unsound positions” as George F. Kennan said about Vietnam. But why now?
Afghanistan, but without the Americans
15 August 2021
In April, President Biden announced his decision to leave Afghanistan. He was ending America’s “forever wars” in order to focus on what the Department of Defense calls a “near-peer adversary,” by which it means China. So no more counterinsurgency. No more street battles, no more winning “hearts and minds.”
Confronting disaster statelessly
08 August 2021
Beirutis are no strangers to earth-shattering explosions. Stories of airstrikes, even car bombs will not be too rare among the city’s inhabitants. Yet there is an unusual amount of anger and frustration among the Lebanese when it comes to the blast in Beirut port a year ago. Why?
Good for Europe, bad for the rest?
01 August 2021
The Green Deal was first announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in December 2019. This “jobs and growth agenda for Europe” was the talk of the town in Brussels. “They can’t do it” was the talk of the town in Ankara. It simply seemed too radical, too disruptive.
Afghan exodus reaches Turkey
25 July 2021
Afghanistan is very rich in pomegranates. Afghans call it by the Persian word for pomegranate, “anar.” We in Turkey chop off the first letter and call it “nar.” The fruit is considered to be the symbol of abundance. As children’s riddle goes: “At the market, I bought one, at home I had a thousand. What is it?” There are actually parts of northern Afghanistan, especially where Turkish is almost enough to get one by on the street.
Back to basics in Cyprus?
20 July 2021
Cyprus gained its independence from Britain in 1960. Since then, we have had a simmering conflict between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities of the island. There has always been intercommunal talks to ease the inherent tensions, but they all failed to bring lasting peace.
Learning how to swim: China vs. Turkey
04 July 2021
2021 is the centenary of the establishment of the Communist Party of China (CCP). It is also the centenary of the first constitution of modern Turkey. Accepted in January 1921 by the Grand National Assembly, the constitution was a response to the Sevres Treaty signed by the Istanbul government in August 1920. The Sevres treaty essentially divided the remaining territories of the Ottoman Empire between the imperial powers, while the constitution was an assertion of independence. It was also a confrontation of legitimacy between the officials of the Empire and the Imperial Dynasty.
European Leaders Talk Turkey
27 June 2021
Since 2018, Turkey only comes up in EU Commission documents under the heading of the Eastern Mediterranean, treated not as a “necessary partner” but as an “adversary.” This is because the European Council, meaning the political leadership of all the countries, wanted it that way. Not anymore.
Time to start modernizing the EU-Turkey Custom Union
20 June 2021
Turkey’s relationship with the West was a marriage of reason. Despite recent tensions, the reasons for that union continue to exist. Turkey’s economic and social transformation is good for European security. This will be all the more so in the post-pandemic recovery process. The Green New Deal on both sides of the Atlantic is set to energize Turkey’s relations with the West in general, and EU-Turkey relations in particular. The European Council summit on June 24-25 could yield a critical decision to this end. Let me tell you why.