Friday,
22 September 2017
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OpinionControl crisis and EU transformation

Control crisis has become the most striking trend of the recent years in Europe and Eurasia. There is a great number of examples, but the most interesting of them are Russia and the European Union. In Russia, it was Vladimir Putin and his entourage who passed the point of no return for the country’s civilizational development, haven chosen this path back in 2008 and having eventually turned into a terminator of existing principles of international relations in 2014. In turn, the European Union has piled up a heap of problems, most of which are systemic, deep and interrelated.

Today’s Europe is controlled by bureaucrats, not strong leaders. The era of De Gaulle and Thatcher has passed, and the emergence of new politicians of this kind is now unlikely. Meanwhile, Euro-bureaucracy, as shows the practice of recent crises at Europe's borders and within the Bloc, is not capable of delivering strategic solutions that would work on strengthening control over EU instead of increasing the imbalance.

Most experts rightly define several major crises for the EU, all of which are on top agenda today. First of all, it is virtual destruction by Russia of the system of international law and, above all, of the European (and global) security system with its actions in Ukraine (and in Syria, since August 2015); the financial and economic crisis across the euro zone putting into question the prospects for the euro; and the massive influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East to the EU. Among smaller problems emerging from those above-mentioned is Greece (the quintessence of all major challenges for Europe), and the possible chain reaction leading to the collapse of the EU, which can be launched by the United Kingdom (through holding a referendum later this year on the so-called Brexit – country's exit from the European Union).

Some EU leaders are showing increasing discontent with the actions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Each of the major challenges could be fatal for Europe and deserves careful, and personal, consideration. But special attention should be focused on the problem of migrants in the EU or, more precisely, its possible consequences. The most recent political outcome on this topic is the EU-Turkey Summit, which resulted in an almost sealed deal between Brussels and Ankara, expected to be completed in a week, after specification of its parameters.

The main outcome of the talks was Turkey agreeing to take part of the immigrants already residing in the EU, in turn forwarding to the Union’s territory Syrian migrants exclusively. The Union is the one to pay for this innovation. And the price is considerable: EUR 3-20 billion. Ankara’s terms are a visa-free regime with the EU before July of this year, as well as a sharp intensification of a process of Turkey obtaining EU membership. Against this background, it should be added that dissatisfaction with the actions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (the Netherlands is now presiding in the EU) has grown dramatically due to the lobbying of their version of the deal with Turkey, and not the one agreed with all the EU member states.

In this context, it is appropriate to raise the question, whether the Bloc is ready to really accept Turkey as its member? A Muslim country with a population of nearly 80 million people, the second-strong NATO army, a powerful economy, industry, excellent demographics and completely different values than those in Europe... Does Brussels understand that, after the admission of Turkey, the EU will become a hardly controllable structure, while Brussels will remain in a state of permanent crisis, and the EU member states will be clinched in bilateral conflicts of interest, thus totally finishing the eurozone and the Schengen area? Most likely, Brussels does understand this. In this case, EU’s promises for Turkey are nothing but a bluff.

Does Ankara understand EU’s unwillingness to accept Turkey? It does. In fact, after all, the question is, why Turkey seeks to join an overly-regulated, yet amorphous, structure, considering that the main bonuses of cooperation will be obtained without direct membership. Then what does Turkey need from the Union? First of all, it needs money to support economy and host refugees, visa-free regime with Europe, and the maximum preference in foreign trade. From a political point of view, very useful for Turkey would be EU’s non-compliance with its promises to be accelerate the process of Turkey obtaining EU membership. Then, Ankara will have no problems in responding by pouring another wave of Syrian and African migrants into the European territory. The final episode in this scenario could be the total loss of control over the European Union and the Bloc’s potential collapse.

If a miracle happens and Turkey becomes EU member state…

Is it possible to assume that Turkey can in its European policy play toward the EU collapse, just like Putin’s Russia has been doing lately, almost openly? Why not? Turkey is one of the real regional leaders with successful prospects. There has already been enough said and written about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to revive his country's influence in the framework of the Ottoman Empire. But it is actually quite a feasible task for Ankara to expand its influence to the southern Europe, especially the Balkans, after the possible collapse of the EU in the long term. Now, this would mean real opportunity to participate actively and directly in European politics.

On the other hand, if a miracle happens, and Turkey becomes EU member state, say, in 2020, the EU itself will have changed radically by that time. There will be a powerful union of the Christian and Muslim worlds – a federation or confederation. White Christian Europe within the EU borders will become just a fragment in history. That is, at the time of the hypothetical EU accession of Ukraine, the European Union would already have been Islamized by Turkey, it would include all the Balkan states, while some of the older members, such as the United Kingdom, would have quit. Most definitely, the EU values, which now serve as beacons for Ukraine, will also be significantly transformed. Is Ukraine ready to become part of such supranational union? Is there an understanding among today’s leaders of Ukraine, what is crucial for the country to receive from the EU, and what should be avoided?

Given the acceleration of a major transformation of the EU, Ukraine should maintain its relations with Brussels, realizing possible scenarios for the future of Europe in the next three, five, or ten years, rather than just be guided by an already non-existent ideal image of the European Union that guarantees prosperity once Ukraine is accepted as its member.

Roman Rukomeda 

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