Most of the member countries of the European Union are asking Ankara to facilitate the unification of Cyprus and to recognize the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities. These factors slow down negotiations in all cases and the European Commission declared in late July that it doubts that Turkey may join the Union before 2012. The beginning of operations of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline in principle strengthens Turkey’s position in the European energy market. However, the resumption of operations of the Turkish army against the Kurds questions the future of that line and is very negative influence for negotiations. The European Union itself has concerns and the problem does not have its origin in “anti-Turkish” positions of member countries as some Turkish politicians and the media try to make everyone believe. The real factors that hamper Turkey’s inclusion in the EU have a political nature.
One third of the Turkish economy relies on tourism and 70% of its finances come from credits from the United States and Europe. It includes the leasing of numerous US military bases. Europe has showed little interest in assuming the Turkish financial-economic system. In a context of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, these bases would be indispensable and that it is essential for the United States to maintain stability in Turkey.
The recent attacks confirm that ethnic-religious conflicts live on and the European Union is not willing to finance their solution. It seems that Turkey has understood the kind of interest the United States and Europe have in their country and, as a response, Turkey increases its economic and political influence in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Central Asia. The countries of this region also understand the role of Turkey in the Euro-Asian strategy of the West. The last summit of the Organization in Shanghai also held back the Turkish presence in the region with its decisions. The initiative of such a policy came from Uzbekistan, a country that has many Turkish investments.
There is another factor that has an influence on the Turkish policy assumed by the European Union and the United States: the position of the Arab oil monarchies that are against the petroleum of the Caspian Sea reaching the world market. Thus, it is reasonable to consider a participation of the Saudi structures in the increase of internal political problems in Southeast Turkey, along the BTC. This BTC is a means of pressure for the United States regarding the price policy of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.
Turkey has become a hostage of its relations with the United States but also of the differences of opinion between the United States and the European Union, and between the United States and its Arab allies. It is understandable that Europe does not want to assume the Turkish economy and also its ethnic-religious problems.

Gazeta SNG (Russia)
Gazeta SNG is an online news daily in Russian language.

Евросоюз отгораживается от Турции?”, by Vartan Toganian, Gazeta SNG, August 28, 2005.