Showtime for Turkey

In relation to my previous post I want to point out an important issue playing out in the shadow of that conflict.
Turkey is trying to gain membership to the EU using among other arguments the claim that, as a member, Turkey would be in a better position to act as a mediator between the West and the Islamic countries.
I am personally strongly against Turkey’s membership but if there is ONE place where Turkey actually could prove that there is a shadow of truth in their claim then this mess with the Durban II conference is it. Because:

  • Turkey is a member of OIC
  • Turkey is a member of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference.
  • Turkey was not prominent in the Mohammed Cartoon crisis – that could be both good and bad.
  • Turkey is traditionally good friends and allies with Israel, which countries such as Iran and Libya plans to bash at Durban II.

I have had Google track any news on the combination of “Turkey” and “Durban” these last many weeks in order to catch any important article that might pop up on the subject but not much has actually turned up.
Two relevant links, however, speak in favour of Turkey:

#1: September 18th at the Human Rights Council the Turkish ambassador made a decidedly moderate comment:

ASLIGUL UGDUL (Turkey) said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was at the core of all other problems in the region. All were aware that a durable peace in the Middle East would no be possible without solving that conflict. The international community had demonstrated a strong will in support of the Annapolis peace process. The success of the resumed process would largely depend on the parties acting with common sense and moderation. Turkey welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the recent release of Palestinian detainees by Israel. That constituted an important step in building confidence between the parties. The ongoing talks had to continue, until they produced a concrete outcome.

#2: Late US senator Tom Lantos who was active in the first Durban
conference, describes his diplomatic working behind the scenes:

I continued my bilateral negotiations with the key OIC ambas­sadors, representing Pakistan, Algeria, and Turkey. These meetings left me in a very hopeful mood. It was clear that the Islamic countries were prepared to relent and were searching for a way to save face. All three of the OIC ambassadors I met with assured me that they were trying to convince the radical elements of their caucus to abandon the attempt to attack Israel by name, and all three asked me for help in shoring up the other two for their ongoing battle with the hard-line countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, and the Palestinians.

Firstly, Tom Lantos’ comment above concerns the first Durban Conference in 2001 and not the coming. Secondly, he later finds out his estimation of the interests of Pakistan are blatantly wrong. Turkey’s effort aside – whatever they might have been – Durban I still fell into an anti-American, anti-Israeli circus.

I don’t see what different and strengthened position vis-a-vis Islamism Turkey could obtain by becoming a member of EU.
Besides, the union is already heavily weighed down by too many countries wanting it their way. EU is incapable of acting in unison against anything on the world stage. Russia routinely plays EU member against member to get an edge in negotiations. And then we haven’t even touched on the massive security issues, historic hatred and cultural and religious differences between Europe and Turkey. Looking at the political culture in Turkey I suspect EU would have another Poland on its hands: Inflated image of self and not afraid to derail any process if there is something in it for them.
Turkey can get a preferential trading partner agreement and no more.

If Turkey was smart then they would launch a public diplomacy campaign in EU that Turkey was helping to reign in the insane islamists in OIC.
I bet they could manage such a campaign if they wanted to but I don’t believe they have the clout to actually change anything with the OIC.

BTW go ahead and read Tom Lantos’ entire account. Exciting stuff.