Visa Liberalization…


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An EU Trap or a Gift for Turkey?


by Diba Nigar Göksel

According to the Transatlantic Trends 2014 survey, the percentage of Turks who think that EU membership would be a good thing for Turkey has increased from 45 percent in 2013 to 53 percent in 2014 and the Turkish government stepped up its discourse on EU accession aspirations. Due to the difficulties in the accession process, however, the prospect of Turkish citizens traveling to the EU without a visa in a few years stands out as one of the only viable short-term objectives to mobilize around.


Turkey’s Visa Free Travel Process with the EU

The prospect of Turkish citizens traveling to the EU without a visa in a few years stands out as one of the only viable short-term goals to mobilize around in Turkey’s EU integration track. Turkey will need to carry out significant reforms — some of them costly — in order to meet the conditions for visa-free travel. Essentially it is a win-win journey, but there is also a risk that the prospect will be squandered. In any case, as long as the root causes of irregular migration are not addressed, managing borders will be a growing challenge for both Turkey and the EU. The EU and Turkey have a shared interest in pooling their complementary strengths toward sustainable development in the region.

The common Ankara-based assumption is that the EU’s evaluation of Turkey’s performance and decision to grant Turkey a visa-free travel regime will be political, rather than meritbased.

The EU does need to take the Turkish skepticism seriously and try to address the justified aspects of it.

That being said, the Turkish political leadership needs to manage this process with utmost diligence and good will to restore its own credibility in Europe. Before reverting to the fallback strategy of blaming the EU or pointing to Turkish popular resistance to European demands, Ankara’s leadership needs to engage Turkish public opinion more constructively — explaining shared interests with the EU and pro-actively building consensus in the society. Turkish civil society, so far largely disengaged from the process, also needs to get acquainted with the nuts and bolts of the visa liberalization process, and hold authorities to account for their performance in meeting the requirements of the readmission agreement and visa roadmap. Download Related Publication.


European Perspectives of the “New Turkey”


by Pavel Shlykov Wednesday, December 24, 2014 – Threats from Brussels in the context of rising political tensions in Turkey and mass detention of political journalists haven’t affected Erdoğan greatly. The emotional reaction of the Turkish president to the speeches of High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the EU Federica Mogherini or European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn reflected rather irritation than disappointment.

Erdoğan rates highly his own political sovereignty in both domestic and foreign affairs and strives to find a sound strategy to minimize the current risks. Despite resentment of the EU, which has become a common feature of Erdoğan’s rhetoric, and the current stagnation of Turkey’s accession process, the EU retains its influence over Turkey because of the Turkish economy’s great dependence on the EU. Indeed, Turkey has become an increasingly important trade partner for EU countries, but unequal economic interdependence between Turkey and the EU strengthens the EU’s leverage over Turkey. While the EU is Turkey’s most important import and export partner, Turkey ranks only seventh in the EU’s import market and fifth in its export market. The EU’s share in Turkey’s total trade is more than nine times larger than Turkey’s share in the EU’s total trade. Furthermore, residents of the EU are responsible for most of the foreign direct investment to Turkey (in 2013 more than 70 percent of FDI came from the EU). This presents Erdoğan with another concern, the potential impact on Turkey’s economy of an eventual common free trade zone between the EU and the United States, which is now in talks. Turkey’s customs union with the EU makes Turkey a part of the final EU-US deal, while Turkey is not a participant in the talks. Given the fact that any free trade agreement concluded with the EU opens the Turkish market to goods going through the EU duty-free, but does not grant the same duty-free status to Turkish goods exported to the country with which the EU concludes the free trade agreement, President Erdoğan’s concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are obvious. Ankara considers the current situation an opportunity to revise its position in negotiations with both the EU and the United States. Turkey is on the way toward strengthening the “Eastern vector” of its policy. Today both Russia and Turkey have found themselves in similar attitudes: both Moscow and Ankara have recently felt alienated by the Western world order. And Erdoğan has calculated that he can realize his ambition to be a regional superpower through expanded cooperation with Russia and BRICS countries. The new Russian-Turkish initiatives can be perceived as a step away from the Western domination of the region. Besides, these new initiatives will also enable Turkey to increase its importance to the West in general and to the EU in particular (despite rising anti-Turkish sentiments in Europe). Germany has recently become one of the severe opponents of Turkey’s European integration. In both Chancellor Angela Merkel’s politics and rhetoric there is an evident intention to strengthen Germany’s position in Eastern Europe. However the new South Stream project, which Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız called “Turkish Stream,” is designed to influence this situation. In the short-term perspective, Turkey expects to become an important energy hub for South Europe and play a role similar to the one Germany plays in North Europe. In this way, Turkey’s geopolitical position in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans is about to change. This, however, is not enough to alter the dynamics of EU-Turkey relations. Full Analysis.


Immigration and the new class divide

Migration und Fremdenfeindlichkeit


by Ian Buruma

Retaining one’s job in a tightening economy is undoubtedly a serious concern. But the livelihoods of most of the middle-aged rural white Americans who support the Tea Party are hardly threatened by poor Mexican migrants. UKIP is popular in some parts of England where immigrants are rarely seen. And many of the Dutch Freedom Party’s voters live nowhere near a mosque.

Anti-immigrant sentiment cuts across the old left–right divide. One thing Tea Party or UKIP supporters share with working-class voters who genuinely fear losing their jobs to low-paid foreigners is anxiety about being left behind in a world of easy mobility, supranational organisations and global networking.

On the right, support for conservative parties is split between business interests that benefit from immigration or supranational institutions, and groups that feel threatened by them. That is why the British Tories are so afraid of UKIP. Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, is less concerned with economic growth than with pursuing his extreme conception of national independence.

On the left, opinion is split between those who oppose racism and intolerance above all and those who want to protect employment and preserve “solidarity” for what is left of the native-born working class.


It would be a mistake to dismiss anxiety about immigration as mere bigotry or apprehension about the globalised economy as simply reactionary. National, religious, and cultural identities (for lack of a better word) are being transformed, though less by immigration than by the development of globalised capitalism.

In the new global economy, there are clear winners and losers. Educated men and women who can communicate effectively in varied international contexts are benefiting. People who lack the needed education or experience – and there are many of them – are struggling.

In other words, the new class divisions run less between the rich and the poor than between educated metropolitan elites and less sophisticated, less flexible and, in every sense, less connected provincials. It is irrelevant that the provincials’ political leaders (and their backers) are sometimes wealthier than the resented metropolitan elites. They still feel looked down upon. And so they share the bitterness of those who feel alienated in a world they find bewildering and hateful.

Populist rabble-rousers like to stir up such resentments by ranting about foreigners who work for a pittance or not at all. But it is the relative success of ethnic minorities and immigrants that is more upsetting to indigenous populations.
This explains the popular hostility toward Obama. Americans know that, before too long, whites will be just another minority, and people of colour will increasingly be in positions of power. At this point, all Tea Partiers and others like them can do is declare, “We want our country back!” Full Essay.



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