An explosion in Turkey will be devastating…*

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Without prejudice

...clouds over the Straits of Bosporus, with it famous bridge linking Europe and Asia. Photo credit Anny Zade

…clouds over the Straits of Bosporus, with its famous bridge linking Europe and Asia. Photo credit Anny Zade

An explosion in Turkey will be devastating…* By John Faraclas

The Americans have an interesting expression which refers to “new kids on the block”** and this matches the identity and behaviour of the Turks. Indeed today’s Turks and their forefathers are only one thousand years in the Eastern Mediterranean basin – and the Black Sea, and their leaders behave more or less in the same way that they behaved in the time when they arrived as warriors of the worst kind, bringing hell to the then Europe, like no other invader had done. They don’t care a damn for anyone in the region! There is no respect for anyone! Now some of them don’t even have respect from their own people, needless to say the “minorities”, political or otherwise…not to mention neighbouring countries. Count the signatories of the Treaty of Lausanne and you will see what happened and what will further happen… All nations involved have tried in vain to make-up with the Turks, with the exception of those living on the shores of Aegean, but who have no power to decide what has to be done in an official way to end this stalemate, both internal and external…

Now the interest of the international community, to all intents and purposes, vis-à-vis the current happenings in Turkey is more than important, for, if Prime Minister Erdogan ignores the people’s call, whether you brand them as minorities, hooligans, traitors and all the rest as he does, the consequences will be grave. He has admittedly overall improved the Turkish economy and basically as a large number of his supporters, he has created even a middle class which was absent from the Turkish way of life, but he must understand that after a decade or so in power, if he crosses the line, he will be condemned as the worst leader of modern Turkey – and by the way: there is nothing in which he can match Kemal Ataturk! Up to now Erdogan has proven to be a pragmatic man and backed off the last minute from other burning issues and stand-offs, but you never know what an asymmetrical attitude and behaviour on his part might do, as he proves to be both an enigmatic and unpredictable person.

The international shipping community in particular expresses its concerns and these have been a main theme from the very first day of this 10-day saga, which no one knows how and when it will end. The question of Turkish ports has been a priority in such anxieties, as well as the position of trade unionists including transport workers, with ITF, the International Transport Workers’ Federation also expressing its dismay that “the brutal crackdown on protests at the end of May in Istanbul’s Taksim Square have shocked the entire world….” The Bosporus Straits are potentially the biggest focus of worry for the international shipping community, as well as, in particular, those Black-Sea -locked nations and their hinterland (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia,  the Caspian Sea nations…). A disruption of the passage and movement of cargoes, not just oil, could even trigger a regional war with incalculable repercussions! Think back to the crisis over the closure of the Suez Canal – yes, that was another story, but it reshaped the maritime adventure and created other geopolitical and trade repercussions…

Turkey has always been the concern of Europe and used to be called “the sick man of Europe”; this is now over, but, repeat but, if Erdogan and his backers, local and international fail to get the message, the eruption of the Turkish Yellowstone will be at best hell. Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libyan, Syria, and former Yugoslavia and all will look like a kindergarten.

BOSPORUS and Bridge 2 AZ06062013

What is the young couple sitting at the bank of the Bosporus straits contemplating for..? Photo credit Anny Zade

Turkey had seen its stock market grow 700 per cent over the last ten years!

The country:

  • Manufactures 30 per cent of the European ‘rag trade’…
  • Has built ships, even for shipowners of its traditional rival Greece, repairs ships, again the majority being Greek…
  • Opens up more marinas…
  • Positioned between two continents (to the expense of others), has access to the Eastern European growth area and the Middle East Powerhouses!
  • Turkish-African links have always been in play (for example: the Libyan affair, remember…).
  • Inflation has been going down, the currency “looks” stable, but there is a deficit in its current account…
  • It has become a destination for cheap holidays given the gap of income with European nations…but a disruption of the tourist flow from Europe can cause havoc…
  • It has aspirations of joining the European Union…
  • It has aspirations via the megalomania of Erdogan to open up Kanal Istanbul…

Will he (Erdogan) dare to spoil his country’s progress and jeopardise the entire region!

Turkey has responded in the worst possible way to all its neighbours and in particular Greece and Cyprus (two members of the European Union which want it to join, although the enthusiasm evaporates…), Armenia, Syria being the last in the list, but also with Israel… So what do you make of it? If a nation, a country doesn’t respect its own citizens – the excuses by the deputy prime minister and as we hear from the President of the Turkish Republic over the behaviour of the police, how on earth will respect its neighbours? How on earth will Turkey respect the uninterrupted flow of international shipping trade and beyond? By not accepting the International Law for the Sea – territorial waters etc. etc., annoying during these protest days the Greeks, “sailing” illegally even between the Greek Islands in the Cyclades with their frigates or missile boats (!) far away (for argument’s sake) from its own-described grey zones, or harassing a Norwegian drillship in the Cyprus zone, then what do you make of this behaviour? We have also to mention Turkish international backers who for the sake of infrastructure works and silly, short sighted geopolitics continue to both harm  Turkish citizens and Turkey’s neighbours.

By the way, the days of Politics a la Turca, are gone, or at best about to go, thanks to technology and in particular to telecommunications! World leaders must be urged to solve totally the Turkish problem – internal and external, whatever you like to call it, before it is too late, and no mea culpa will be acceptable. Otherwise the continuation of hypocrisy will govern until same is smashed in an unprecedented way.  Watch this space!

*to all intents and purposes

**A new arrival in an area or in a group of young friends.

N.B. Recommended reading to our international audience are Lords of the Horizons by Jason Goodwin –about the history of the Ottoman Empire; and another book  An intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin, where one can learn a lot about Turkish behaviour over the years…

 

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    1 Comment

  • All Turkish leaders were dreaming a Turkey respected by the West.
    All Turkish leaders knew that the West is looking to Turkey as a backward country.
    From 1922 Kemal having been able to win the Greco-Turkish war with the help from some friendly countries for their own reasons and by losing all the prosperous and energetic citizens of Asia Minor [the Greeks and the Armenians] after slaughtering them and deporting what has been left of these two nations, he named the new state Turkey and abolished the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate which was in ruins.
    All western powers from 1922 onwards, looking as usual after their own benefits and interests in the new formed region in the Middle East were playing additional games.
    Turkey during WWII had played her own political game [The evasive neutral]. She got from both sides of the warriors whatever was possible.
    After the war the new leading power of the West and the Europeans had decided to use Turkey as an ally in two military organizations [NATO-CENTO] and later as a business partner.
    All these events gave the Turks the ability to move quit e freely and to be educated as possible. Also as a participant in the military organizations and due to her geographical position in the new world after WWII, Turkey has used every coming possibility for her benefit and we have seen the powerful West to agree on her demands.
    Turkey in the meantime had never forgotten that once upon a time she was an Empire and now wants to get everything back. For this reason she was using every possible tool, playing Byzantine politics and when a project was not ending under her interests immediately she was switching sides.
    Turkey, knowing that she is a state with many different ethnic clans, had tried from the beginning to name all her subjects TURKS with tremendous emphasis. Then she wanted to show an Eastern origin figure [from the mythical Turan] and on the other hand to be European!!!!
    Finally Turkey wants to become a member of EU and a dominating power in the Middle East.
    In order to achieve the first goal, Turkey tries really hard to fix her western looks. In order to regain the domination of the Arab countries of the Middle East, she tries by today’s regime to appear as a Sunni Islamic state.
    In my opinion this is an impossible dream of Turkish leaders who have to decide were they want to drive their country and were today’s civilized Turks want to go.
    The West should decide with what sort of Turkey one has to deal with!
    RAdm (HN-rt) J.J.Theophanides

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