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West Cedes Serbia to Turkish Influence

“One of the most conspicuous things in the last several months is markedly intensified bilateral activity of our authorities with regard to the relations with Turkey. President and Foreign Minister have been meeting more often with [Turkey’s President and Foreign Minister respectively] Abdullah Gul and Ahmet Davutoglu than with any other leaders in the world. This improvement of relations has taken place even at the cost of deterioration of links with the Republika Srpska. Our public has justly wondered what is at stake here so it does not seem a bad idea if the authorities themselves explain the reasons for this intensified cooperation. In the meantime, it remains to us to look for possible reasons for this’, the conservative political analyst Misha Djurkovic writes in the Thursday’s issue of Politika.

“Speculations about the announced larger future role of Turkey in the Balkans could be heard in certain international circles last autumn, a little before Davutoglu’s speech in Sarajevo. This return of Turkey, which was expelled from the Balkans exactly 100 years ago by the joint action of the local nations, comes, it seems, with the support of all bigger powers having an interest in this region. The United States have been trying to squeeze in Turkey, its most important ally among the Muslim countries, to the European Union for decades. (…) Resistance of France and Germany to its membership is huge nevertheless. The current economic crisis only additionally reinforces their arguments and determination of the population and the authorities to nearly tell Turkey it will never join the EU.

“On the other hand, since the Germans don’t want to see anyone else in the EU except Croatia, the issue of future of the entire region has been opened up. It turned out somehow that the Western Balkans is an ideal instrument for compensating everybody interested in this issue with the entry of Turkey or, as some would put it, by ceding the entire region (except Croatia and Vojvodina) to successors of the Ottoman Empire. The Germans and the French will be happy to leave Turkey out of the EU in this way. The Americans are also much interested in such a solution. If they can’t squeeze Turkey into the EU, at least they will thus bring it in its forecourt.

“Two strategic goals are achieved in this way. The Balkans Muslims deprived of the EU accession perspective and with none better economic prospects of the countries they inhabit, can easily become subject to extremist stands. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the Americans and the Europeans that moderate and still secular Turkey should become their leader and protector and not Iran, Indonesia or another even more radical country, for instance. Furthermore, keeping Turkey linked to Europe, even through the Balkans, is significant in order to level its new strategic orientation towards the leadership in the Middle East and wider Muslim world. (…)

“It appears that Russia has nothing against this entry of Turkey in the Balkans either. The Turks have also manifested their new orientation by the new improvement of the relations with the Russians recently. After the authorities have changed in Bulgaria, Russia transferred the South Stream route to Turkey. Apart from rapprochement with regard to the energy policy, the Russians need an alliance with Turkey because of its influence over the Caucasus Muslims, too. (…)

“If Davutoglu’s speech could be considered as an announcement of the comeback, then the entire array of other concrete measures shows how much the Turks have taken this job seriously. Let’s have a look at Serbia. One gets an impression they have had increasingly larger role in settling a number of issues in the region of Raska [Sandzak]. They reconcile local leaders, organize gatherings to collect aid for Sandzak, plan construction of roads in order to better connect Pazar with Sarajevo, Pristina, Berane etc. in infrastructural terms. The local authorities have decided to abolish Jat and transfer its debts to us (taxpayers) and to form a new company with Turkish Airlines whereby they would give the local sky to Turkey. There are rumors that the state would turn two former military airports into civilian and give surrender to the same partner. Efes Pilsen has been negotiating the purchase of the basketball club Partizan. There are a growing number of investors from Turkey in the south of Serbia etc.

“Therefore, it is quite possible that our authorities have been told nothing would come out of the EU membership, that Russians do not have an intention to come here strategically, and that we have been surrendered over to Turkey in the same package with others. One should remember that expulsion of Turkey from the Balkans primarily resulted from the will of big powers. Russia, Britain and France encouraged the Balkans Alliance in 1912 in order to cut the strategic connecting between Turkey and Germany and construction of the railway Berlin – Baghdad. Today, the same powers have a need to return it to this region.

“As for us, the question is whether we have a choice and means to oppose it. One school of thinking advocates resistance at any price asking why we were dying for one hundred years ago, and another claims we should reorient ourselves and take as many advantages as possible of the circumstances that we cannot influence”, Misa Djurkovic writes.