Turkey and Israel in the EU

Published on 4 June 2010 at 15:17

Turkey’s support for the Gaza Freedom flotilla, which was “forcibly inspected” by the Israeli navy on 31 May and its recent nuclear fuel exchange agreement concluded with Iran and Brazil are yet more reminders that Turkish foreign policy is not limited to patiently waiting for Brussels to open the door to the EU. Over the last few years, while it has been working to comply with EU accession criteria, Ankara has been developing an increasingly dynamic diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. Described as “neo-Ottoman,” it aims to re-establish Turkey’s influence in the territories of its former empire, and it is for this reason that Ankara did not hesitate to call into question its relationship with its former regional ally Israel, which in the wake of sequence of unilateral diplomatic blunders is now increasingly isolated.

In Europe, the assault on the Mavi Marmara prompted an exceptional — in as much as it was united — response from the European Union, whose High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has demanded an international inquiry. Within the European Union, countries that were marked by war for much of their history have experienced such an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity that most of their citizens are unable to imagine an armed conflict with a neighbouring state. Now that the economic crisis has resulted in a discreet resurgence of nationalist sentiment, the time may be right for a daring initiative that could mark a turning point in the history of the EU, the Middle East and the world: we should propose that both Turkey and Israel become full members of the European Union within the next five years. The material details can be worked out later.

Gian Paolo Accardo

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