Turkey is unaware of the severe sanctions it is already under

Turkish television these days features many retired ambassadors, professors, veteran journalists, politicians, and security experts (whatever that means) talking about sanctions from the European Union and the United States.

Many of them are unaware that the most severe sanction of all has already been imposed - I often have a different idea of what a sanction is than these people.

It has been five years since the EU froze relations and stopped opening new chapters in the accession talks.

And relations with the United States feel like they have been in crisis since former U.S. President Barack Obama posed for that photo holding a baseball bat as he spoke on the phone with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in late 2012.

Back then, Turkey’s national income was around $1 trillion. Then the crises began to grow. Turkey completely lost its reputation for upholding the rule of law. And foreign investment stopped – with the exception of Qatar.

Today, Turkey’s national income stands at around $750 billion dollars. The extra $250 billion we lose every year? That’s the equivalent to the national income of a country like Greece.

These losses, which add up to more than $1 trillion in the lasts five years, happened because Turkey tore away from the Western system of values and frayed its relations with the EU and the United States.

For this most severe sanction, no agreement is necessary among leaders of the 27 EU countries, and no U.S. president, be it Donald Trump or Joe Biden, needs to speak of Russian missile purchases, or anything else. Turkey is already imposing this sanction on itself, by drifting away from the values it needs for sustainable growth.

In the aftermath of this grave mistake, we can’t even attempt a strict lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19, even as total cases near two million, because the state doesn’t have enough resources to support its people for two weeks. What a great shame.

If EU countries decide to impose even the strictest sanctions - would that cost Turkey nearly as much as $1 trillion? Turkey has shot itself in the foot with this turn away from the West and towards nonsensical regimes.

But the country is not aware of what has happened. So many important people still discuss on television what sanctions will come from the West in the future. I don’t think they realise the sanctions are already here, and are more severe than they could imagine

This price will continue to be paid until Turkey returns to Western standards of law and the economy, and to a Western value system, in a convincing fashion.

In the meantime, the price will be poverty, unemployment, social unrest, and terribly low judicial standards. 

May God have mercy on us and grant us the mind, and more importantly, the conscience we need.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.