Looking Eastward: Turkey’s Bluffing Game
Chances are Turkey will never join the European Union. For one, it espouses the wrong religion. For another, Bible prophecy indicates it just won’t happen. But that doesn’t mean it will ally with the EU’s main opposition bloc, China and Russia, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco) either.
On January 25, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that he thought Turkey should consider looking east for allies instead of to the Western European powers. Europe has been stringing Turkey along with the carrot of EU member status since Oct. 3, 2005, when, alongside Croatia, Turkey began accession talks.
“We are not the ones that are undecided; the European Union is. Whereas if they would just reveal their true intentions to us, we would be at ease. … The European Union needs to stop stalling us. … We told [Russia], if you say come, we will come,” said Erdoğan in an interview printed in the Turkish newspaper Sabah (translation from Pravda).
Turkey’s turn toward Russia and China is no more than a bluff. Turkey intends to pressure the European Union into speeding the process of EU membership along. It has been seven years since talks began, after all. Croatia, which started dialogue with the EU at the same time, is now on track to become an EU member state in just a few months. Does Turkey feel a little left out? It is sending a clear message to the West by casting its eyes eastward. Is Europe ready to give up the possibility of influence over the crucial sea gates of the Bosporus and Dardanelles which Turkey controls? Will the EU risk losing the prospect of influence over that crucial gateway to the Black Sea?
Croatia may not have much to offer the EU in the way of economic production. As of last year, the nation had a negative gdp growth rate of -1.1 percent and an unemployment rate of 19 percent. A fifth of the population lives below the poverty line. On paper, it doesn’t look like a great acquisition for the Union. What Croatia can offer is a strategic deep-water port in Rijeka on the Adriatic Sea and the Danube River port of Vukovar. Back in 2006, Croatia began an extensive upgrade of the transport infrastructure that was intended to make its waterways the “fastest inland route from Asia to Central Europe,” according to a Stratfor analysis from February of the same year. Another factor influencing Croatia’s bid to join the EU is the fact that it’s 87.8 percent Roman Catholic.
Why doesn’t the European Union want to bring Turkey into the fold? It is stronger economically than Croatia. Its gdp of over $783 billion grew at a real rate of 3 percent last year, 2012 unemployment was 9 percent and its budget deficit was only 2.6 percent, a little more than half of Croatia’s. And with a labor force some 25 times the size of Croatia’s, there is a greater potential for industrial capacity and productivity.
“Still, for every obstacle Turkey hurdles, the EU throws up another. Since 1987, when Turkey applied for full membership, 15 other states have cut to the front of the line and been accepted: Austria, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania,” Joel Hilliker wrote in the November/December 2007 Philadelphia Trumpet. “The Turks have watched the Union swell from 12 states to 27, while they remain peering through the window from the outside.”
As bad as Turkey has wanted in, why has it been blocked at every turn by the EU? The answer is simple: religion.
“The fundamentally Roman Catholic continent simply has no intention of incorporating 70 million Muslims in one swoop. And Turkey—with its Ottoman history, which at one time threatened Catholicism’s very existence—has particularly negative associations in European minds. As Bernard Lewis expresses it, ‘[T]here is still a reserve of mistrust, and even at times of hostility [toward Turks], with roots deep in the European Christian past’ (From Babel to Dragomans)” (ibid). Compare Turkey to Croatia—where Croatia is majority Catholic, Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim.
Simply put, Turkey is too Muslim to ever integrate into the EU. Christianity (read Catholicism) and Islam just don’t mix. You only need to read a history book to prove that fact.
What does that mean? Because it won’t be accepted by the EU, will it be accepted by the sco?
The answer: still no.
The sco may have made Turkey a dialogue partner, and may go as far as to let it be an observer state, but it will never gain full membership in that group of nations either.
One reason is Turkey’s place in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (nato). Turkey has been part of nato since 1952. nato is comprised of nations with a certain level of democratic government, with major world players like the United States, Germany, the UK and France. Notably missing from the list of members are the powerful Eastern nations like Russia, China and Japan. Much like the impasse of religion, there is the obstacle of governmental ideologies between the sco and nato. Stratfor’s chief analyst Robert D. Kaplan said of the sco: “The Shanghai Cooperation Council is actually a very soft anti-Western, anti-democratic grouping that shows the world that there’s this vast tract of Eurasia that rejects Western moralism, Western universalism …. And it’s basically the tool of a Moscow-Beijing, a Russian-Chinese alliance.” The two organizations are ideologically at odds, and Turkey cannot belong to nato, and support what it represents, as well as be a part of a Sino-Russian-dominated alliance that holds “anti-Western, anti-democratic” principles.
The nail in the coffin that denies Turkey’s ticket to sco membership lies in the prophecy contained in Psalm 83, where Edom (the modern-day region of Turkey) is named among a confederacy of Middle Eastern nations that are against the king of the south (Iran and its cronies) and are tied with Assur (Assyria, or Germany).
Daniel 11:44 talks about Germany being troubled by tidings from the north and east (modern-day Russia and China); the rising power of the Eastern nations is part of what helps to solidify the German-led European power. If Turkey is to be a part of the pro-Germany, pro-Europe Middle Eastern alliance, it would not be joined to the Asian powers. That rules out membership in the sco.
Turkey is a valuable strategic asset that Europe won’t want to let slip away. The EU may never allow the Muslim nation to fully integrate into the European Union. It will recognize Prime Minister Erdoğan’s recent statements as the bluff that they are. The EU has been successfully stringing Turkey along since 2005, and there is no reason for that to change.
For more information on the prophetic fulfillment of the Psalm 83 alliance, read “A Mystery Alliance,” Chapter 2 of The King of the South by Gerald Flurry. If you want to know more about the rise of Russia and China, read Russia and China in Prophecy.