Most of us will remember the kinetic energy formula of half mass x velocity squared equaling kinetic energy from our days plodding through O level physics, when the cane was still a fashionable accessory to the Head or Deputy Headmaster. Always an unfortunate event if the potential energy of that wooden stick turned into kinetic energy across the hand or derriere!
What has this to do with Turkey and Ukraine? The answer is the glacial moving behemoth of the many headed hydra that is the EU. (Too many mythical creatures from mixed heritage in one sentence?)
Anyway, as all good learned readers of this blog are fully aware, Turkey has been banging on the EU door for quite sometime looking for at the very least a friendly handshake and the possibility of an invitation to come in from the outside. It has, despite being a valuable ally in NATO, having a booming economy that has bought a fair amount of EU debt and an unprecedented ability to negotiate within the Muslim world with a western tint, been consistently refused. In fact the door has not been opened but the EU has peeked through the letterbox when dealing with Turkish aspirations of integration.
There are several good reasons for the EU stalling Turkey and also many that are folly. That said, there has been effectively no movement, not even a shuffling along the door mat, to retain Turkish interest for far too long. Seemingly nobody in the EU has had the backbone to simply say “No, but we will offer you this instead, and that’s the best offer you will get”. It seems the EU plan has been to bore Turkey into a complete lack of interest negating the necessity to have to say that uncomfortable word “No”.
Returning to our O level physics lesson, what is the result of velocity squared when velocity is zero? Inertia.
It is no surprise then to read, following a healthy victory for the third time, the Turkish leadership dismissing EU involvement in the reforms it plans to carry out.
“The European Commission’s recommendations will be taken on board to the extent that they reflect universal norms. Take the death penalty [which Turkey abolished in 2004]. Whether or not you want to join the EU, it’s a good thing to abolish the death penalty. But in the absence of any clear perspective of accession, there’s no reason why Turkey should align its legislation toward narrow EU standards. To put it simply, the EU has lost its leverage on Turkey.” – Turkey’s Ambassador to the EU, Selim Kuneralp 20.06.11
Quite! Far too much pontification from within the EU, not enough direct and clear dialogue and far too many heads of the hydra disagreeing with each other over how and what to say to Turkey for far too long.
Given the close ties of Ukraine and Turkey through trade, history and geographical location, Kyiv will not be blind to the Turkish situation and the internal EU waffling with no discernible movement either towards or away from Turkey. Initially, one could have mistaken the EU to have been deep in contemplation over Turkey and thus the glacial movement. There comes a time though, when contemplation appears more like it is completely ignoring Turkey, or far worse, it is not competent enough to make a decision and articulate it.
Turkey would now appear to have reached the point that the EU no longer is an aspiration but a source of unnecessary perspiration on a diplomatic and political front. It is now a case that Turkey has taken away any leverage the EU once had over its domestic reform and European integration and may very well turn out to be like many a spurned lover, rather uncooperative when you try to remain friends. Given the current situation in North Africa and the Middle-East that may well have some difficult ramifications for the European nations.
By now, of course dear readers, you will have noted that as Ukraine happily walks along the path they think will lead to EU integration, there is a considerable chance that, after the unpopular reforms, DCFTA, and AA between the EU and Ukraine (if they are signed off as expected) generally bringing laws and trade regulations in line with those of the EU, there may be no goose willing to lay the ultimate golden egg for Ukraine.
(I know, mythological creatures from different regions at the start of this entry, and now I jump to fairy tales. I think something has been slipped into my tea.)
One suspects this is why Yanukovych has publicly called for a guarantee of eventual membership to be written into the Association Agreement. As he has said, without it all current negotiations are “empty”. He is undoubtedly not oblivious to the Turkish experience.
Nonetheless, the EU should take heed of the words from the Turkish Ambassador to the EU, Selim Kuneralp. Sooner or later, should there be a protracted lack of momentum within the EU towards Ukraine, such words will undoubtedly be uttered by a Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU. The years of work that have gone into the DCFTA can be undone in a moment and the geopolitical battle between the EU and Russia over Ukraine lost in an instant.
Before I sign off for the day, I will acknowledge that the physics metaphor employed as loose stitching throughout this entry, is borrowed from the ever-wise Charles Crawford. We have, however, come to an agreement that he will borrow a metaphor I used relating to foreign policy mountain tops, slopes and valley’s in an entry I wrote a few weeks ago.
Can’t you just feel the love in the Brit blogosphere? Far better than entering into those on-line tiffs. Quite unseemly!