Wall Street Journal: Russ offers thoughts on Turkey’s future

In a letter to the editor that appeared online Sunday and in today’s (Nov. 9) print version of the Wall Street Journal, UW-Green Bay Associate Professor of Business Administration Meir Russ offers some candid observations about the changing relationship between Turkey and Europe and the U.S. He says there are significant risks if the West hesitates too long in engaging Turkey as an ally.

The letter from Russ, posted under “Turkey Presents a Challenge, but an Opportunity, Too” follows; or read his letter at the Wall Street Journal online.

Regarding your editorial “The Turkish Temptation” (Oct. 30): Europe and the U.S. are almost at a point of no return when it comes to losing their special relationship with secular Turkey. It may be that a “new Turkey” is about to be born, replacing Ataturk’s secular, Western-leaning Turkey. On a recent trip to Turkey I had discussions with Turkish academics during which they conveyed sheer fear that the Turks who care about a democratic Turkey are being overtaken by the Muslim populist government, which is getting closer by the day to the rising Iranian power and away from the aging and weakening Europe. The Turkish government is mostly riding on the changing demographics in Turkey, with a disproportional growth in the numbers of poor and poorly educated young people in rural areas, and is not only responding to the geopolitical and economic changes in the region.

Unless the West wakes up soon, the issue at hand will not be whether Turkey will join the European Union; it will be if the EU realizes that right now may be the last opportunity of engaging Turkey as an equal partner and protecting the southern edge of the EU before Turkey becomes a foe.

Meir Russ
Green Bay, Wis.

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