Pak-Turkey ties further strengthened

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News & Views

Mohammad Jamil

PAKISTAN and Turkey have agreed to further augment their bilateral relations in diverse fields. The understanding came at delegation level talks held between the two countries in Islamabad on Thursday. Addressing joint session of the Parliament, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan deplored the Indian oppression in occupied Kashmir. “I condemn the atrocities being committed in Kashmir and would like to see the resolution of the issue as per the will of the Kashmiris,” he said. “The terror group, the so-called Islamic State (IS) has no link whatsoever with Islam,” Erdogan said, adding that the West was supporting IS and Al-Qaeda. He said that relations between Pakistan and Turkey are not commercial relations but brotherly relations that cannot be described in words, as they are real. His allegation about the West’s support to IS and Al-Qaeda is indeed serious.
And he sees their hand behind the abortive coup. Secondly, he was wary and tired of European countries’ procrastination over the Turkey’s bid for entry in the EU. Some member countries say that Turkey’s entry will dilute the bloc’s Christian identity. As a matter of fact, the formal talks initiated in October 2005 about Turkey’s membership of the EU had already foundered. Some member countries were of the view that Turkey was a poor country as compared with other countries of the EU, while others highlighted its cultural differences with the rest of Europe. But chapter of Turkey’s entry in the EU appeared closed, especially after President Erdogan was fed up with the dilly-dallying tactics of EU member countries and said that “Turkey was not dying for EU membership.” In fact, Turkey has been sincerely trying to meet the conditions for joining the EU.
Turkey had introduced economic, social and political reforms, taken steps to liberalize its economy, and achieved more than 8 per cent economic growth in 2007, which was more than any other member-country of the European Union, and still has the highest growth rate as compared other members of the EU. Turkey is the founder member of the NATO. After Britain, Turkey’s army is second biggest in the NATO; and has played commendable role as its strong arm. The Incirlik Airbase, in southeast Turkey, houses NATO’s largest nuclear-weapons storage facility. The question arises that if Turkey can be a part of alliance for the security of Europe why not in economic, social and other spheres? There is a perception that EU members do not wish to have a Muslim country in their fold. Though they pretend to be broadminded, enlightened and tolerant of other religions; but in fact they are not.
In December 2006, some EU members expressed indignation over Turkey’s refusal to use its ports and harbours for Greek Cypriot traffic. They were of the view that Turkey was under legal obligation to treat all EU countries equally, but Turkey demanded that EU must lift its trade embargo on Turkey’s northern Cyprus. But there is something more to that. The formal talks initiated in October 2005 about Turkey’s membership of the European Union had foundered when Austria insisted that Turkey should be offered a lesser partnership and not a full membership of the EU because it failed to meet entry criteria. Though in 2006, it had been decided in principle by the leaders of 25-member bloc (now 27) to accept Turkey as a member of the Union, there were elements in EU who opposed the former’s entry on flimsy grounds.
In mid-1950s, when Turkey had joined Baghdad Pact later renamed as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), its relations with Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries became strained. However, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under Erdogan’s leadership has made moves to strengthen relations with Muslim brotherly countries. There is a paradigm shift in Turkey’s policies and is playing a greater role in international affairs than its predecessors. It has even put together a strategic plan that aims to make Turkey a world power by 2023. Apart from its efforts to reduce tension between Israel and Arab countries, Turkey tried to promote peace in Afghanistan by hosting talks between Pakistani and Afghan leadership. Though Justice and Development Party has Islamist roots, its members show remarkable tolerance to other religions and those having different points of view.
Anyhow, Turkey had introduced economic, social and political reforms, taken steps to liberalize its economy and had achieved more than 8 per cent economic growth in 2007, which was more than any other member-country of the European Union.
It has to be mentioned that Turkey is the founder member of the NATO, and has played its prodigious role as its strong arm. The question arises that if Turkey can be a part of alliance for the security of Europe why eyebrows are being raised for its role in economic, social and other spheres? German social democrats, in the coalition government support Turkey’s entry in the EU, but there are apprehensions, as three million Turks are living in Germany, which can impact the demography of Germany to some extent. This is the reason that Turkey is looking towards East rather than towards West.
There is also a perception that EU members do not wish to have a Muslim country in EU’s fold. They pretend to be broadminded, enlightened and tolerant of other religions; but in fact they are not. Anyhow, one of the reasons for Turkey’s opposition is the nasty wrangle between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus. It all had started in 1974 when supporters of the union with Greece made a coup in Cyprus. Turkey had attacked Cyprus to stop that move, and the Cyprus was divided between Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north – a state recognized by Ankara only. Turkish leadership, however, was of the view that for the progress of the country and welfare of its people it was imperative to be a part of European Union. But opponents of Turkey have mala fide intentions and display double standards.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.