“A half century after taking the first steps toward becoming an integral part of Europe, Turkey may be ready to give up,” The New York Times reports:
After heavy hints that Ankara is looking eastwards to a closer alliance with Asia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left), the prime minister, said this week that membership in the European Union was not a must for Turkey.
“It is not the Apocalypse if they do not let us in the E.U.,” Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Budapest on Wednesday, as he launched his latest broadside against the Union’s alleged delaying tactics to keep his country out. His remarks followed a news conference earlier this week in Prague, where Mr. Erdogan described the delay in granting membership to Turkey as “unforgivable.”
As Andrew Finkel wrote from Istanbul, the prime minister also “threw the diplomatic equivalent of a cream pie” into the debate by suggesting Turkey join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization instead.
Hugh Pope, the International Crisis Group’s project director in Turkey, suggested that Mr. Erdogan was courting popularity by bashing the Union.
The SCO has become a vehicle for undermining international standards of human rights and refugee law, according to a recent report from the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
The SCO has also been described as an authoritarian international for Eurasia’s illiberal regimes; “the most dangerous organization that the American people have never heard of”; and “one of those international bodies whose proclaimed ideals conceal an often sordid reality.”
The group’s approach to counter-terrorism is modeled on China’s Three Evils doctrine for combating terrorism, extremism and separatism, even if, as one study notes, this has “too often acted as cover for suppression of ….legitimate opposition groups and the cutting-off of trans-regional ties between them.”
The SCO focus on territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, and social stability “contributes to supporting repressive regimes at the expense of national, regional, and global human rights,” according to a recent whitepaper from Human Rights in China.
“Washington has suggested that Turkish membership in the S.C.O., a security organization viewed as an anti-American bulwark in Central Asia, might be problematic in view of the Turkish role in N.A.T.O.,” The Times reports.