Turkey’s deep state

The Islamic conference in Istanbul showed that Turkey’s deep state is still around, finding expression even through the lips of Erdogan’s reformist officials. The point is not just that the Muslim state officials called the occupied section of Cyprus by the name that is to found in the Annan plan («Turkish-Cypriot state»). As the Greek Foreign Ministry said, this development «in no way constitutes a recognition of state or any type of recognition.» Most importantly, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul dramatized the state of Greek Muslims in Western Thrace, rehashing claims made by Ankara’s establishment that the Greek government is violating bilateral and international treaties. Gul’s remarks, which were at odds with the moderate language used by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his recent visit in Thrace, met with little surprise, as such inconsistency has come to be expected from our eastern neighbor. It proved once again that Turkey’s path to EU standards will be long and that the struggle between Erdogan’s reformists and Ankara’s deep state has not ended. Over the past few years, Athens has backed Turkey’s EU course and Costas Karamanlis – rightly – disengaged a Cyprus solution and a settlement of bilateral issues from Greek support for Ankara’s demand for a date for EU talks. If Turkey gets a date in December, then the two sides will have a chance – without tight timetables and distorting pressure – to settle all outstanding bilateral disputes and reach a Cyprus solution in line with the EU’s acquis communautaire. The problem is that there is good reason to believe that Turkey’s request may not be met in December, in which case the deep state could make a strong comeback.