Southern, Central, and Eastern member states suffering from high unemployment and slow economic growth have welcomed Chinese investments with greater enthusiasm, while their Western counterparts have been more cautious. These investments have come with political strings attached, leading to increased Chinese influence both at the EU and member state level. On other crucial questions of screening Chinese investments, the fault lines run across the EU.
Western European states and Brussels are viewing this "divide and rule" tactic with great alarm.
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German Chancellor Merkel sees Chinese influence as one of the "greatest challenges" facing Europe,  and has cautioned that Chinese economic investments should not be linked with political questions. Second, BRI has potential implications for the security of European maritime trade and energy routes. The Indo-Pacific maritime routes are the primary gateway for European exports to reach the Asia-Pacific markets, and for energy resources from the Middle East to reach Europe. BRI projects in this region, with little greenfield investment and plenty of Chinese loans for economically unsustainable projects, have already led to financial instability in Djibouti, Pakistan, Maldives, and Laos.
Increasing competition, militarization, and a "base-race" is already evident, as resident countries like India, Indonesia, and others are alarmed by Chinese expansion. China now controls one-tenth of European port capacity not only in the South — Spain, Italy, and Greece — but with the acquisition of the entire container terminal in the seaport of Zeebrugge, Belgium, also in the heart of Europe.
This, combined with the first-ever Sino-Russian joint naval exercise in the Baltic Sea,  has led to a growing unease in Brussels. European Commission President Juncker has warned specifically about foreign acquisition of strategic assets like ports. Led by calls from Germany, France, and Italy, the Commission is also in the process of developing a screening mechanism for foreign investments in sensitive sectors — critical infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications, high-end tech-companies, and defense technologies.
Finally, BRI is creating stiff competition and restricting market access for European trade and businesses operating in the Indo-Pacific markets. While European companies are interested in participating in BRI projects, lack of transparency in bidding and procurement procedures means they are often not even allowed to bid for contracts. Projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC , for example, generated great enthusiasm among European businesses, however mostly Chinese companies were allowed to bid, and won contracts guaranteed by Islamabad.
Some larger European firms have been involved in BRI projects, but often quite late and at subcontractor level. It also remains difficult for European companies to compete against BRI projects, when state-owned companies can provide large loans and state backing, effectively distorting the markets. This is particularly evident in large infrastructure projects like high-speed railway, port construction, and logistics where European companies used to have the lead. Introduction of Chinese technical and manufacturing standards in new markets is further closing out space for European companies.
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The most salient examples are the efforts to restore normal relations with Armenia and with the Iraqi Kurdish. The process of normalising Turkish-Armenian is the most important element of Turkey's new policy towards the Caucasus EurActiv, In October, Turkey and Armenia have at last signed a historic accord. Under the agreement, Turkey and Armenia are to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their shared border.
This should enable them to make peace and to close the contested matter of the Turkish massacres perpetrated against the Armenians in the second half of the World War I. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in , when they were deported en masse from eastern Anatolia by the Ottoman Empire. They were killed by troops or died from starvation and disease.
Armenia wants Turkey to recognise the killings as an act of genocide, a situation described by many, in Europe and in the US in those terms, but successive Turkish governments have refused to do so. If the move succeeds it still has to be approved in Parliament, overcoming the likely opposition of Turkish nationalists and the pressures from Azrebaijan , 10 Turkey could reinforce its prestige as a broker, a regional peacemeaker with a stabilising influence in a volatile region. This move could bolster Turkey's case for EU accession and win back Ankara's reputation of reformist determination, which has faded in the second mandate 11 of the AKP-led government.
The decision will also help Armenia overcome its regional isolation and will open new commercial gateways westward to the economy of landlocked Armenia. On the negative side, the reality is that Turkey faces a much more diverse set of security threats and challenges: growing Kurdish nationalism and separatism; increasing sectarian violence in Iraq that threatens to spill over and draw in outside powers; an increasingly assertive Iran that may develop nuclear weapons; and a weak, fragmented Lebanon dominated by radical groups with close ties with Syria and Iran.
Most of these threats are on Turkey's periphery with the Middle East Larrabee: , 3. Although Turkey is certainly a potential asset for the EU in the field of security, Europe is not willing to import insecurity with the Turkish accession and demands that Ankara solves a number of pending conflicts. Turkey: drawn into an unstable Middle East neighborhood.
Turkish attention today is focused much more intensely on the Middle East than in the past. As a result, the tension between Turkey's Western identity and its Middle Eastern orientation is likely to grow Larrabee: , 3. This is where the key challenges to Turkish security are located. Turkey is likely to be drawn more heavily into the Middle East by the Kurdish issue, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and other regional crisis. As a result, the tension between Turkey's Western identity and its Middle Eastern orientation is likely to grow Larrabee: , vii.
Prime Minister Erdogan's government has worked intensively to improve cooperation with Turkey's Middle Eastern neighbors. This year, efforts recently took on momentum, with a growing number of high-level visits and cooperation pacts being signed in a range of areas from culture to security, in what some call a process of regional integration similar to the one in Europe.
There is a tendency among some observers to attribute changes in Ankara's foreign policy to AKP's roots in Turkey's Islamist movement. Many analysts fear Turkish relations with the Muslim world may come at the expense of Turkey's Western orientation. Howeer, one must take into account the structural changes in international politics that coincide roughly with the two wars against Iraq and the changes in the regional power balance Cook: , Currently, the most pressing issue on Turkey's agenda is its relationship with Iraq.
Turkey has its own interests in the evolving situation in Iraq and is watching developments there with great concern. Ankara thinks the situation has the potential to be highly destabilising if it deteriorates further. Civil war or a fragmented Iraq, and the possible emergence of an independent Kurdistan in the northwest, would impact strongly on Turkish foreign policy, especially if Ankara feels compelled to intervene there to contain the fallout.
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The most important external challenge Turkey faces today is Kurdish nationalism. As a result, Turkey today confronts the prospect that an independent Kurdish state will emerge on its southeastern border, which could strengthen separatist pressures among Turkey's own Kurdish population. Since , Turkey has faced an escalation of PKK-led 12 separatist violence.
Turkey is also concerned about the intention of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq to incorporate the city of Kirkuk 13 and adjacent areas under its control.
Turkey fears that Kurdish control of Kirkuk's oil wealth would enable the Kurds to create an independent state Larrabee: , In October, Turkey and Iraq took a giant step forward to boost ties, signing more than 40 agreements. The deals were signed at a meeting of the key government ministers of the two countries under the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council Kene, Recently, the Turkish government, has undertaken a number of potentially significant measures in a search for a solution to the country's long-standing "Kurdish problem" Ramonet, and to cement Turkey's expanding ties with the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq.
For decades, Kurdish nationalists have demanded that Turkey end forceful assimilations and denial of even basic rights of Kurds and recognise their legitimate cultural rights by creating a dual educational system where classes are held in both Turkish and Kurdish. The AK has reversed decades of official policy by trying to meet the demands of Turkey's large Kurdish minority some 14 million in a total population of 72 million.
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The initiative called "Kurdish opening" was a welcoming development: it envisaged bringing members of the PKK back to Turkey from the organization's bases in Iraq and cells in Europe through an unofficial amnesty. The return of the 12, refugees in the UN-run camp at Makhmour, in northern Iraq, is part of the Turkish government's plan to broaden freedoms for its Kurdish community and secure an end to the year violence by separatist Kurdish rebels, inside and on Turkey's borders.
It is also a calculated political move to cement Turkey's expanding ties with the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. Iraq's Kurds, despite age-old tensions with Turkey, have also warmed their relations as trade has boomed and the looming departure of the US troops, the Kurds' protectors, raises the spectre of isolation. Unfortunately, the government has since backed down, calling off its plan to bring more PKK members back to Turkey, when a group of them, whom the Turkish government had allowed into the country from Iraq, delivered fiery speeches in support of the terrorist group Cagaptay, a.
Turkey is opposed to isolating Iran and Syria or overthrowing the regimes in either country.
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Rather, Ankara favors policies aimed at engaging Iran and Syria and to encourage the United States to open dialogues with both countries. Erdogan's government is strongly opposed to a military strike against Tehran, which it believes could further destabilise the region. Turkey's interest in good relations with Iran and Syria is in line with the European positions Larrabee: , 4. However, Turkey's outreaching should not be seen as undermining attempts to pressure Iran or as giving cover to Syria's maverick behavior.
During Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to Tehran, he stressed Iran's right to nuclear power for civil purposes, pointedly congratulated Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after his disputed election win in June Uslu, He further said that countries opposed to Iran's atomic program should give up their own nuclear weapons and defines as 'arrogant' the sanctions imposed on Tehran.
These declarations threaten to stir fresh tensions between Turkey and the EU, after Turkish leaders provoked a crisis in relations with Israel by banning it from participating in joint military exercises. Turkey and Syria, two former enemies, have also mended relations in late Haddad, Relations have improved swiftly after decades of mistrust based on Ankara's accusations that Damascus supported Turkey's banned Kurdistan Workers' Party. Turkey boosted its ties with Syria with a newly formed cooperation council.
The new cooperation agenda called for a series of meetings between respective ministers and the signing of diplomatic and economic agreements Al Jazeera, Rather than seeing Turkey's ties to Tehran and Damascus as a problem, Europe should view them as an asset.
The EU might spur Turkey to find a way to play a bridge- building role between Iran and the international community in order to end Tehran's nuclear ambitions. As Turkey increases its relationships with states like Iran and Syria, which the United States and the EU, to a lesser extent, regard as destabilizing elements in the region, Ankara's value to the EU may increase further it it becomes a player in European-Middle Eastern rapprochement. In fact, supporters of the AKP's new foreign policy argue that "Turkey is finally finding its voice in international politics" Abramowitz e Barkey: , 5.
It should go without saying that Turkish assertion should not undermine Turkey's EU membership bid, nor jeopardize its credibility and the positive role it can play in the broader region.
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