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Berlin Bosphorus Initiative hosts panel discussion, “Will the two ‘Wolf Warriors’ of Europe destroy the Transatlantic Alliance” TEPAV’s Program Director Güven Sak participates in discussion.
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18/06/2021 - Viewed 225 times


On Wednesday June 16th, 2021, the Berlin Bosphorus Initiative (BBI) hosted the virtual panel discussion, “Will the two ‘Wolf Warriors’ of Europe destroy the Transatlantic Alliance.” The discussion was moderated by BBI Advisory Board member, professor of international relations, and columnist Soli Özel with the participation of Diplomatic Correspondent of die Zeit, Michael Thumann; Senior Research Fellow of Chatham House’s Europe Program, Hans Kundnani; Director of IEP Berlin Institut für Europäische Politik, Funda Tekin; and TEPAV’s Program Director, Güven Sak.

The discussion began with Michael Thumann indicating a divergence between American and German approaches to the transatlantic alliance. Under the President Biden administration, the push is to rally around democracy whereas Chancellor Merkel emphasizes the importance of multilateralism. Moreover, NATO today looks similar to the NATO of the Cold War era when it was not an alliance of democracy- today you have Poland and Hungary sliding away from democracy and Turkey is no longer a democracy in the classical sense. The EU is also not a flawless union of democracies.

Building on Michael Thumann comments, Han Kundnani stated that with regards to the transatlantic alliance Germany is free riding whereas Turkey is freewheeling. Both countries want to keep the alliance but also see the Nordstream 2 pipeline and the S-400s, transactions they both have with Russia, as a way of having a multilateral relationship. Kudnani pointed out that during the Trump administration the Europeans have pursued strategic autonomy. While in the military sense Germany would not opt out of American defense of Europe, in terms of the economy, the Europeans want to establish more sovereignty especially after Trump era tariffs on the EU, sanctions on Iran which are detrimental to the European economies and working with Russia. Essentially, both Germany and Turkey want to have it both ways.

Funda Tekin highlighted the rising critical sentiments not only in Germany but across Europe over Turkey and its accession to the European Union. She further depicted the political climate waiting Turkey after Germany elects their new chancellor, although a major divergence in Germany’s Turkey policy is not expected to change, the next government will incorporate The Greens and how they are going to affect the German foreign policy remains to be seen.

Responding to Turkey’s status quo special partnership with the EU, Güven Sak argued that there is a new dimension to consider with regards moving the stagnant Turkey-EU relationship forward. The Turkish economic transformation occurred due to its close relationship with Europe and the Customs Union (CU) agreement which protected Turkey from east Asian competition. The new positive agenda to look forward to, with wide trade and industrial ramifications, is the European Green Deal as well as the American Green New Deal. These deals are essentially creating a new trading block, a new trading region, with carbon equalization border taxes and other measures. Turkey will need to transition its own economy since 60% of its total exports are to G7 countries and because Turkey is a major part of German value chains. More importantly, these ramifications will enhance, not diminish, the importance of Turkey in a region of fossil-fuel dependent economies. There is currently a shared vision for the future. Towards this end, Turkey must prepare a serious package to reduce carbon emissions, ratify the Paris Agreement and modernize its CU agreement.

The BBI is an initiative based in Berlin which aims to bring cooperation and relations between Germany and Turkey with regards to economy, society, and politics to a new and innovative level. As a part of this effort, BBI hosted a number of InBrief Webinar Series with this particular discussion concluding the series.

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