Its tiring Tango, since it has been playing around for quite some time. What began as Turkey’s bid to be included in the EU has opened up some larger gaps and loopholes within the EU itself. Not only that, it has split open the vulnerabilities and inherent weaknesses in both Turkey and EU. Ironically, both claim to be standing at the helm of their own boastful positions which have been marked by personality driven egos and nationalism driven agendas which go on to clash with a crumbling structure of neo-liberalism. Its interesting, how nationalism aided by a transformation towards authoritarianism meets to Tango with a flailing globalization induced structure.
The world seems to be moving at strange paces through various events, much of which seems like a Tango. This ‘discourse’ of Tango is something which one can often see being manifested within the nuclei of the international realm. Some of it spreads out and provokes states and regional actors to interact and dance to the unmusical tunes. More of these tunes turn out to be rather dangerous. One such example of rather dangerous maneuvering happens to be between the European Union and Turkey. It has all the necessary elements of theatrics, torpor, chaos, heat, frostiness, danger and friction, making it a dangerous Tango.
What is wrong in the picture is perhaps everything. There is President Erdoğan who seems to be stuck in a state of turmoil within his state, one which now has spread beyond Turkey. The state now seems rather fraught with extremism, hints of gory authoritarianism, internal political struggles and the rise of the Rightist element—a step away from the secular ideals. This might plunge Turkey into an arena of power, but this power will come with lots of struggle. Perhaps more than it can be tolerated.
Despite the fact that Erdoğan is a headstrong leader, it seems unclear as to how much rationality there could be in the near future. The power which he will come to avail after the referendum is going to be very dodgy and at best a bitter pill to swallow by the EU. This will have drastic effects on the membership of EU to Turkey. Moreover it also needs to be considered that has Turkey now gone beyond the EU membership and if so, how far ahead has it gone. The raging EU has then, its own set of agenda and issues to hassle with. The emergence of the Rightist element within the European states seems symptomatic of a troubling future for the European populations—more than that the Muslim diasporas. This is largely due to the fact that with this rise in the Rightists in Europe a new wave of Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims will come to the surface.
But this prelude then takes us to another rather dismal plane. The duplicity which Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and other states who are major proponents of democracy and democratic values—the fair point on which Turkey was deemed to be a weaker link in the otherwise strong chain of EU—actually went ahead and made a point of curbing the freedom of speech by banning the rallies. These rallies might have been for an ulterior notion for them—but nonetheless the Turkish diaspora perhaps did not agree. This idea seemed to have come too soon and too close to fire.
If anything, this might actually propel the Turks—each one of them—to vote Yes in the referendum. This is because of two reasons; they now have seen the ‘irrationality’ of the West towards them, their leaders and their ideals. And second because as much as the Europeans might be scared of the unpredictability of what may be in store for them—they are too. In Erdoğan they will come to see a man who stood up the Westerners who seem them as extremists and terrorists. This all might seem too simple, but this is plain human psychology which does not really give consideration to the minute and intricate details. Yet certain other details cannot go un-noticed like that of the comments about ‘Neo-Nazis’ and ‘Fascists’ by Erdoğan. What is striking and rather appalling is the ease with which they were said. It hinted at the rather surprising reality of authority and power.
The war of words which later turned out to be a gory spat set in a time which Netherlands and its leaders used perfectly to exploit since it was election time for them. Looked at from one vantage point—both sides have similar interest, to attain power within the domestic realm. In order to do so both actually greased the hen and set it on fire. This fire might go a long way especially for the Turk-Dutch relations which are being celebrated as ‘dead’.
Where was it that the forceful Tango actually got dangerous? This is anyone’s guess, because Germany wants apologies from the Turks and the Turks want something so much more from the Europeans and EU only wants stability which it seems to be letting go off. Another query which comes up is how well with EU do without Turkey as an economic partner and what once a strategic one was, as well. Knowing quite well that Turkey is getting this wave of power from its position in Middle East and its now steady relations with Putin, Israel and even Trump. Turkey has immense value to EU but what then is it which propels them to lash it out on them I this way. Is it just alarm at what Erdoğan might bring to the table is he wins? Moreover, the reality is that Merkel herself is going to face elections pretty soon and this will perhaps help her in them.
Another rather strange thing is the role of a silent spectator which France is playing. The leaders within France are also going through an election phase, yet they are silent even though they probably have a lot of weightage. Particularly after the remarks by Erdoğan and the inherent Islamophobia in France.
Whatever the case is, it happens to be an oscillating ordeal between EU and Turkey because it is after all an even playing field. The diplomatic rift which now seems to emerge out of practically nowhere is causing the entire global system to stand upon its toes. The world now seems to be at a brink of instability which neither realism nor liberalism or even constructivism or any other paradigm for that matter has any answers or insights about. The structure of EU is already rattled up with internal fissures while Turkey is again, not very stable because of the various suicide attacks and other ignominies. The entire global discourse is indeed of turmoil in the realm of diplomacy. Unprecedented events mark the system and this time it seems that they are rather heated up and stifling.
No one knows who is leading the Tango or for that matter how many mistakes have been made in the moves. Perhaps no one is actually leading and this is what makes the Tango a dangerous one. But with all that is going there can only be a ring of hope that in this rather heated up dance between two keen and powerful entities—nothing gets knocked over.