Turkish Army, Mediterranean

‘’Europe must accept that Turkey is the dominant power in Eastern Mediterranean’’

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder criticises Europe’s lack of vision, warning that the EU must accept Turkey’s new role in the world.

Turkey has become an “uncontested dominant power” in the Eastern Mediterranean: this is what former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder affirms in his latest book, “Letzte Chance” (The Last Chance), where he criticises the EU’s attitude towards Ankara and says that Europe must accept that in the new world order Turkey, China and Russia are actors that cannot be ignored.

Europe should accept the fact that Turkey has become the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Whether they like it or not, ”says the 77-year-old German politician in his book, written in collaboration with Gregor Schöllgen, a history professor in universities in New York, Oxford and London, according to an article in the Turkish daily Hürriyet.

The book emphasises the need for a new world order, in which Schröder assigns a particularly relevant role to Turkey, China and Russia. “A new world order, which is necessary for us, is the last chance for the West. Turkey, China and Russia are important players in world politics. The West will lose if it acts with these countries with the mentality of the Cold War,” warns the former leader of the German government.

Precisely referring to the relations between Turkey and the European Union, Schröder criticises in the book what he describes as “mistakes of the Europeans“. “The contrast between Turkey and the West is the result of the wrong policies of the EU. We Europeans, and especially Germans, have looked at this country (Turkey) and its citizens in a humiliating and presumptuous way,” he acknowledges.

“No German government has been sincere with Turkey since 1963”

However, the former German Chancellor assures that Germany has been the only country that since the beginning of the negotiations with Ankara has wanted Turkey to be part of the Union. “Since the Ankara Agreement of 1963, no other country except Germany has kept open a perspective of Turkey’s membership of the EU. But except during the last era of the coalition of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) and the Greens, neither of those governments were sincere (with Turkey),” says Schröder.

For this veteran Social Democratic politician, Europe’s “delaying tactics” towards the prospect of Turkey’s entry into the EU are inadmissible. “Asking Turkey to fulfil the conditions for visa liberalisation, and at the same time delaying important progress in the EU accession negotiations, is equivalent to saying (to Turkey) ‘We don’t want you‘ “.

“If you (the West) condemn Turkey for its presence and military activities in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, then you should not pay Turkey to prevent migrants (and refugees) arriving from conflict zones from entering Europe. This policy does not get on well with the West and its virtues, that it utters from time to time, ”says Schröder, who also points to Europe’s lack of perspective on Turkey’s new role in the region.

“The time when Turkish politicians were kept waiting in Berlin, is over”

“Thinking that a new government that comes to power after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will review the country’s global policy and renounce being a power in the Eastern Mediterranean, is just ‘not knowing the chalk from cheese’. Turkey will not do this” says the German politician, who also adds that the war in Syria cannot be solved without the participation of Russia and also Turkey, which plays a key role.

“Just as the problems in Ukraine cannot be solved without Putin, it is difficult to end the migration crisis without Erdoğan. The era in which Turkish ministers and presidents were standing in waiting rooms in Bonn or Berlin under humiliating circumstances, is over“, warns Schröder, recalling in this sense how Erdoğan did not even tremble at Trump’s threats of “destroying the Turkish economy ”, for which Schröder gives several reasons.

“First of all, the US military is dependent on the İncirlik and Kürecik bases (in Turkey). Second, Turkey currently has a large weapons industry; they produce and sell their own unmanned aerial vehicles. Ankara’s weapons industry and the dependence of some countries on these weapons, make Turkey closer to its goal of being a power in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Ankara negotiated the purchase of an aircraft carrier from the UK

These comments by Schröder about the growing Turkish role in the Eastern Mediterranean are released coinciding with the appearance in the media of news that suggest that Turkey would have held negotiations with the British government in 2020 for the acquisition of an aircraft carrier (new or used) , according to the independent news website Middle East Eye.

The information, which cites two anonymous sources very close to the negotiations, states that the negotiations between Ankara and London were about the purchase by Turkey of a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. “(The British) offered to sell the design of an aircraft carrier and provide technical support during its construction in Turkey,” says one of the sources.

However, the negotiations did not come to fruition and finally Turkey rejected the purchase, according to another source: “After consultations with the British government, Turkey decided to build its own aircraft carrier, instead of buying it.” Just last month, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan announced that thanks to its growing naval industry, Turkey had become one of the 10 countries in the world that can design, build and repair its own warships.

In fact, Turkey already has under construction its first aircraft carrier, the TCG Anadolu, a 232-meter-long amphibious assault ship inspired by the Spanish aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I that is expected to be ready this year, and has plans to build a second twin ship, the TCG Trakya.

In this way, Turkey will become one of the 10 countries in the world to have aircraft carriers in its fleet, which will significantly strengthen its position as a power in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish army also recently announced a plan to modernise its fleet of 160 F-16 fighters – which constitute the core of its air forces – following its expulsion from the F-35 program, and while it carries on with its plan to design and build its own fighter jets.