International Affairs Forum: In light of Turkey’s current problems with EU accession and their increased economic ties with Iran and Syria, how do you view Turkey’s current place as a security partner with the EU?
Dr. Michael Werz: Turkey’s place is one of great importance. It is not only in the immediate vicinity of the European Union but it also has historical ties for to Europe like no other country. This is true even though we are witnessing the establishment of a new geopolitical space: The new Levant, the region encompassing Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan is becoming a reality. And that has greatly enhanced Turkey’s reach as well as its geopolitical weight.
It’s also important to recognize that Turkey has been long married to Europe, so to speak—mainly because it was one of the most important contributors to NATO in military terms and its migrants played a pivotal role in reconstruction Europe after the devastation of WWII.
With regard to NATO it is often overlooked that during the Cold War, Turkish society at large has provided more to guarantee European security than many of the core European countries themselves. Turkey has also participated in European security defense policy missions such as in Macedonia, Congo, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
This all indicates that Turkey is of great strategic importance to the European Union. And the fact that with the end of the Cold War, the country with steady demographic and economic growth has become interconnected with a much broader region once again and that has only increased its importance.This article was originally published in International Affairs Forum.