OPINION

Opinion

. ..In debating Ankara’s status in relation to the planned European rapid reaction force, we run the risk of being unable to see the wood for the trees. The wood is nothing but the common denominator of vital interests between Turkey and the EU or, rather, the West in general, as Washington has goals which in the medium and long term diverge from Ankara’s hierarchies and priorities in the Middle East. Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia, the bilateral military cooperation between Turkey and Israel, the Kurdish issue… all surface as hot spots where Turkish and Western interests are at odds. More than 10 years after the end of the Cold War, Turkey’s political and military elite continues to perceive the country’s overall geostrategic weight as being directly related to the perpetuation of disputes which prevent overall regional stabilization. The full normalization of Tehran’s relations with the West, particularly with the USA, came to the fore as a priority during the visit of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Iran in early October. This momentum will severely diminish Ankara’s room for maneuvering in the Caucasus and Central Asia… Bilateral military cooperation between Ankara and Tel Aviv can work as a factor for putting pressure on Damascus only so long as the current dispute continues… Finally… its inflexible stance on the Kurdish problem is in the medium and long term driving Ankara to side with Baghdad. This is where the government’s effectiveness in tackling the plight of human trafficking will be judged. The same applies to hooliganism – another problem that cannot be ignored.