The EU's annual progress report on Turkey's application to join the European Union is considered a sort of "report card" in which the European Commission rates Turkey's performance over the past few years. For the very first time I read it without any enthusiasm at all. It's true that I was in Kazakhstan at the time, far away from Turkey and even further away from Brussels. Yet my lack of enthusiasm, compared to previous years, wasn't solely linked to geography.

Certainly, the environment I was in and the dynamism surrounding me did influence my perception, because indeed no one in Kazakhstan seemed remotely interested in the 2009 report. To put it bluntly no one gave a damn about it. No sooner did I dare to state its importance, than I was immediately told: "Forget Europe and look towards Asia instead!". Those who were more polite, or diplomatic, told me: "Of course it would be a shame to give up in the middle of such a long road towards Europe. However, jot down in a corner of your mind, that one day you'll realize that it's above all here that you can achieve your real objectives."

Kazakhstan, the new Norway

It's certainly obvious that the future of Turkey as well as that of Europe will in great part play out in Central Asia. Even the "little Napoleon" of Europe – French president Nicolas Sarkozy who cannot bear the slightest bit of criticism – adopted the most modest profile one could imagine when he went to Astana at the beginning of October. This because Kazakhstan's basement is overflowing with oil, natural gas as well as uranium, and not so long from now, this region will be a new Norway, Canada or Australia-- coveted by one and all. The vastness of this country (which is four times the size of Turkey yet inhabited by less than 30 million people) also offers a myriad of possibilities. Little wonder, then, that Turkey has already reserved parcels of this land.

In light of this, one can't help but smile at the comments sparked by this progress report, essentially telling us that "its tone is far more measured than in previous years" and that "the expectations and demands of the European Union in respect to Turkey are much more reasonable". Of course, we're not going to pretend that we don't care because we already have our "Eurasia". The European Union remains "our path", but not our "only path". Having said that, thank you all the same for the report.