STRATPOL ViewPoints is a project which seeks to address the most important international politics and security affairs of today. In every issue, you can find a Policy Paper, thought provoking opinion piece, and a brief review of a recent study from well-known research centres and think-tanks worldwide.
Turkish constitutional referendum amid the rising polarisation of the society
- If Turkish voters approve the measures proposed in the referendum, Turkey will move from the parliamentary to the presidential system with the president having an authority over the executive branch and high amount of power over the judiciary and the legislature. Moreover, Erdogan could theoretically stay in office until 2034
- In case the proposed constitutional changes are rejected, extension of the emergency state and snap elections are likely to happen
- The main obstacles for Erdogan include disunity inside the AKP and MHP, and unwillingness of their electorates to support the proposed changes unanimously, as the polls suggest
- Regardless of the referendum outcome, polls are proving that polarization of the Turkish society is dangerously high with a risk of serious intra-societal conflict
- Erdogan is willing to risk Turkey’s foreign relations with the EU in order to attract undecided nationalistic and conservative voters. Even though the aggressive rhetoric will likely tone down, future relations between EU and Turkey are not going to be cordial
What is it about? Yes scenario
On April 16 Turkey will decide whether to move from parliamentary to presidential system. Even though it might seem as a newly-emerged idea, it has been an ongoing topic of discussion since the 1980s.
In the upcoming referendum, people will vote on a package of 18 constitutional amendments affecting 76 out of the 177 articles in the Turkish constitution. The proposed changes include increase of the number of seats in the Parliament from 550 to 600, lowering the age requirement for a candidate to stand in an election from 25 to 18, extending the parliamentary terms from four to five years, and many others. However, the most controversial and also the most important are…
Read full paper here.
Author: Matúš Jevčák
Central Asia: Setup ready for change?
Central Asian countries rarely make the headlines in international media. Recently, this has changed. Kazakhstan, in an “Atatürk style” modernisation move, announced shift from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet. Darker news are coming from Saint Petersburg and Stockholm. In both terrorist attacks, authorities have tracked the suspected perpetrators back to the Uzbek diaspora. New Year’s attack in Istanbul nightclub, which left 39 dead, was also connected to Uzbek ISIS related jihadist.
“The -stans” share several similarities. Some of the general characteristics present across the region are nepotism, corruption, drug trafficking, autocratic rule (with exemption of Kyrgyzstan, which can be described as fragile democracy in transit) ethnic tensions and last but not least looming militant Islamism. Local groups are networking with ISIS, Taliban, Haqqani Network and other groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which makes this issue clearly transnational and harder to tackle for regional authorities.
Energy resources (rich oil and natural gas reserves mostly in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) precious metals and minerals (uranium, gold, aluminum etc.) create more than solid basis for extraction, industry and export. Together with proximity of developing markets of China, India, Russia, Turkey and Iran we get a setting for which geopolitics has a thrilling name – The Great New Game. While the above mentioned countries and some others are surely competing for influence in region, radical change and instability seems to be in nobody’s interest.
With occasional turbulences, the regional system can be described as stable yet fragile. The MENA region before the Arab Spring used to be described in a similar vein. An incident which can send stability of Central Asia down to the sinkhole can be pretty inconspicuous. Climate change, land degradation and overstretched water resources (all issues already in progress) can hit rural agriculture areas very hard. With large portions of population (yearly growth rate 1.38% with median age 26.6) living in rural areas (circa 60%), regional countries face the risk of food insecurity, unrestrained migration to cities and poverty rising. How much would you bet on corruption-rotten autocratic regimes’ ability to cope with rising societal tensions and upheavals?
Author: Matej Kandrík
The Consequences of Brexit for European Defence and Security
By Sarah Lain and Veerle Nouwans
Recent paper from RUSI – Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studied, looks closely at possible consequences of Brexit for Europe in the defence and security area. Authors cover not only issues of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy but also somehow less visible areas of home affairs, law enforcement and information sharing.
While virtually everything is uncertain after Brexit, both sides would benefit from some kind of “special partnership”. Also, if UK were to be granted any privileged status, EU representatives would need to find answers for the peculiar questions of other non-member states like Ukraine, Norway or Turkey.
The UK has made a considerable footprint in developing Common Security and Defence Policy and it has provided important assets and financial contributions to EU missions (approximately 15% of common costs in military operations and 16% of the Common Foreign and Security Policy Budgets for funding civilian missions). On the other hand, recently it has been blocking new CSDP initiatives like establishing an EU Permanent Operational Headquarters. While there can be more space for closer defence cooperation among the EU states after Brexit, nothing should be taken for granted.
In the light of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, ongoing migration crisis and constant fight against illicit trade and organised crime, information sharing is a crucial topic. It is in no one’s interests to have UK out of Europol, European Arrest Warrant system and many more European information sharing platforms. Authorities on both sides of the channel should not let particular interests and bargaining about who gets what blur the broader picture of European security.
Full RUSI paper can be found here.
Author: Matej Kandrík