OPINION

Moment of truth for Turkey

Concerns previously voiced behind closed doors have now burst out into the open: Turkey will not become a full EU member any time soon. After a long group therapy session, European leaders have discovered that the Union suffers from expansion fatigue. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso just confirmed the diagnosis and the only question is what the day after will bring. The Turkish establishment has long been in a state of nervous breakdown. Opposition leader Deniz Baykal is having nightmares of Kemal [Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey] worrying about Turkey coming apart. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan realizes that EU entry is too far off for the average Turk to condone further reforms or to attempt to tame the deep state. We’re in for a tough political game. Erdogan will be accused of selling out to Brussels, while the nationalists will try to convince voters that «no matter what we do, Europe is a closed club that does not want us in.» In response, Europeans will try to find the silver lining for Turkey. The EU will become less demanding of Turkey and leave room for a so-called a la carte relationship with Ankara – meaning Turkey will get to be choosy about its European obligations. For Athens, that means that it will have to come up with a new foreign policy dogma. In the 1980s, the dogma was «what is bad for Turkey is good for Greece.» In the 1990s, it was «we want a stable and predictable Turkey which will have to change attitudes due to EU demands.» That dogma is now dead in the water. Athens will have to handle a neighbor suffering from a nervous breakdown, so it should expect overreaction once it realizes that the EU door is locked for good. Greece must avoid a crisis with Turkey and also avoid any a la carte solution. The coming months will not be easy. If the past is any guide, should the initial shock turn into rage, Greece will be the first to know.