The idea of the “European Political Community” (AST), put forward by French President Emanuelle Macron in May, will become flesh and bone in the first week of October. AST will hold its first informal summit meeting in Prague.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Turkey is also invited to the summit, which will be attended by all EU member states and candidate members. However, it should be noted that Erdogan’s invitation to Prague has been discussed in the European public for a long time due to the backwardness in the fields of democracy and human rights in Turkey.
The summit also has other interesting guests; The leaders of Norway, Iceland and Switzerland will also be present at the Prague meeting. Thus, Britain, which parted ways with the EU as a result of Brexit, will at least have the possibility to coordinate with Europe again on political issues.
IS THE “ANTI-RUSSIAN” A NEW GROUP?
Other countries invited to the European Political Community summit question whether the main purpose of the AST is to create an “anti-Russian formation”; Ukraine and Georgia, which neither NATO nor the European Union can officially become members of, are also on the guest list.
Likewise, there are guests from the Caucasus region, where the interest of Russia, which is busy with the Ukraine war, has decreased and the USA has moved to expand its sphere of influence, to the Prague summit; Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev are also expected to attend the European Political Community meeting.
As a matter of fact, the invitation of Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Azerbaijan, which were formerly within the USSR, to the summit in Prague must have disturbed Russia very much, that Moscow’s reaction was expressed by the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov himself. Lavrov gave the message that the West should interpret the idea of the European Political Community as “either you are with Russia or us”.
The surprise country among the Prague summit guests is Israel.
The Czech Republic, which holds the EU term presidency, invited Israel, with which it has always had good relations, to Prague, using the privilege of “host country”, although it is not a part of Europe.
On the other hand, there is the recent tension in relations between Israel and Russia.
Ukraine Before the war and in the early days of the war, Israel’s relations with Russia were close enough that the Tel Aviv administration could offer to “mediate” for peace. This affinity was further embodied when Moscow turned off its air defense systems when Israel wanted to bomb targets in Syria that it deemed dangerous.
However, in the last few months, Russia’s rapprochement with countries or groups seen as the greatest danger by Israel seems to have changed the situation. Russia’s close cooperation with Iran in many fields, especially in defense, and then the Hamas delegation hosted in Moscow caused alarm bells to ring in Israel. Adding to this, Hamas’ efforts to repair its broken relations with the Russian-controlled Assad regime in Syria, Israel’s view of Moscow has changed for the better.
This paved the way for the inclusion of Israel, which is among the undisputed members of the Western front, even though it is not located on the European continent, into the European Political Community, which has come to be known as the “anti-Putin club”.
THE STATUS OF TURKEY
Being included in the European Political Community has the potential to create two problems for Turkey.
The first of these is about Turkey’s European Union membership process; Despite being a candidate country, Turkey has been treated as a “third country” by the EU for a long time. The EU can only engage in dialogue with Turkey through immigration policy or energy has been reduced to such matters. Bilateral issues that will facilitate integration, such as the expansion of the Customs Union and visa-free travel to the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, are not addressed at all.
Turkey’s being in the European Political Community and coordinating with the EU on political issues may pave the way for it to be presented as an “alternative” to the EU membership process. It is necessary to pay attention to this.
The second potential nuisance is the Community’s designation as “anti-Putin” by Moscow itself. It is on the agenda that Turkey, which will take part in the Community, will harm its dialogue with Russia. That’s why President Erdogan, in a statement he made just before returning from the United States, avoided taking a definite stance on whether he would go to Prague.
However, just months before the elections in Turkey, President Erdogan’s efforts to reinforce the “world leader” image he is trying to create should not be forgotten.
It seems unlikely that Erdogan, who could not meet with US President Joe Biden in New York, will miss the opportunity to be seen at the same table with European leaders in Prague…