By Polat Urundul,
Brexit will have crucial effects on Turkey and world politics. As the biggest market and the biggest peace project of the world, the EU has lost an important family member as a result of referendum held in Britain. The result of the referendum should be considered in three steps in order to understand it from a different perspective. Firstly, Brexit should be considered with its impacts on Britain's strategic power on the world politics. Then, how this referendum result may rebalance Britain's economic relations with the world should be examined. Eventually, Brexit's possible effects on the British-Turkish relations should be analysed.
I insistently use 'Britain' as a subject, instead of 'the United Kingdom'. Because the United Kingdom can be divided into two or three after this referendum since Brexit may trigger independence referendums in Scotland and the Northern Ireland. The UK's domination may seem to be shrunk from one-fourth of the world to Great Britain and the Northern Ireland on the map. But it is certain that the UK has a decisive role in many parts of the world. Thus, its power cannot be depended upon its place on the map. The UK's existence is the biggest assurance of European security with the help of its 'special relationship' with the United States. While Russia increases its aggression in Southern Europe and the Caspian region, NATO is going to take new measures to protect the balance of power. In their campaigns, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promise to reduce the Russian aggression in the world. NATO countries have already began to think over the issue. It is certain that the UK will play a significant role while doing it.
However, as David Cameron warned before, the EU's unity may be in trouble after the referendum results in Britain. It is believed that Brexit may lead to new separations from the union but some analysts only focus on countries such as Italy and France. Debates on leaving EU may not only come into existence in Italy or France. These debates may also appear in Czech Republic and Poland. In return, this may gladden Russia, who wants to increase its influence over the Southern Europe. Furthermore, the UK may not be able to intervene in the incidents in Europe after leaving the union. So, the European Union without Britain may be more vulnerable against the threats from outside. If the negotiation process in Cyprus continue, the UK may involve in the solution as a guarantor power, but because the issue also concerns the EU, the UK may not be as effective as it was before and it may threaten UK's interests on the island. However, leaving the EU may give the UK more independence on investing and using the military force. As a result, the UK may contribute NATO more.
After leaving the union, the UK may also want to prove itself as a decisive actor in the world. So, it may lead to more aggressive policies implemented by the British FPE. Consequently, Brexit may have both negative and positive effects on Europe's and the world's stability. It should be noted that the normalisation of the Turkish-Israeli relations in the Middle East may arrange the limits of Britain's effects in the region. If Turkey also normalise its relations with Egypt, it may lead to a new strategic partnership between those countries. Furthermore, oil and gas in the Mediterranean region may be transferred to Europe through Turkey. If this partnership works prosperously; Turkey, Egypt and Israel may want to shape their environments amongst themselves. Therefore, this circumstance may increase their dominance over the region and the UK may find it difficult to have a voice there. However, resolving the Cyprus problem is also crucial for the regional powers in the area.
If the parties resolve the Cyprus problem, it may lead to new economic routes in the world. Transfer of the Mediterranean oil and gas through Turkey may decrease Britain's oil's value in Europe. Compared to Euro, Sterling is still expensive for importers and it may make them prefer the Mediterranean oil and gas. TPP can be seen as an alternative market for Britain. Even if the UK joins the TPP, Exportation of the British gas and oil may still be limited since there are many oil and gas resources in the pacific. Furthermore, if Scotland leaves the kingdom and becomes independent, the UK may lose its rights on the Scottish gas and oil. If Scotland may find a way to stay both in the EU and the UK, the oil and gas may stay 'British' and importers may prefer buying those resources as a result of decreasing value of Sterling. But the British resources' fate still demands on the existence of alternatives.
The UK is Turkey's third biggest export partner in the world. The Trade Union has a definite impact on that. Without an agreement guaranteed by the EU, the trade between the UK and Turkey may suffer. Furthermore, without a support from the UK, Turkey's membership to the EU may get more difficult since the UK had supported Turkey's membership for a very long time. Brexit may also have social effects on the public opinion of people in Europe. Brexiters abused Turkey's membership process to the EU and indicated Turkish people as devils in their campaigns. If Euroscepticism increases in European countries, it may lead to same policies in many parts of Europe. Therefore, Turkey may be affected by the consequences in terms of tourism, the membership process and international prestige.
As a result, Brexit is an unknown adventure for the British. It may have negative effects for the world and Europe. However, if allies and partners of the UK can turn this circumstance into an advantage, it may be beneficial for every country in the world. Because the amount of goods that UK imports from EU countries will probably be diminished, Turkey may turn Brexit's economic impacts into an advantage. As an important trade partner to the UK, Turkey should sign new trade agreements with the new British government. Furthermore, restoring the relations with Israel and Russia, Turkey may react as a negotiator in its region. Turkey's traditional role as a negotiator may stop the aggression of dominant powers in the world and ease the peacemaking in the Middle East. It may let Turkey and its partners use 'the soft power' in the region, and this may bring more economic gains for both the United Kingdom and Turkey. If both parties neglect to improve their relations after Brexit, the referendum results may weaken the Turkish-British relationship while Brexiters may hold the majority in the new British government. For this reason, the new and dynamic Turkish government ought to take ingenious measures as soon as possible.
Polat Urundul studies MA International Relations and European Studies at University of Portsmouth.He is the president of Turkish Student Union of UK's International Relations&Politics committee. He is also a member of the Henry Jackson Society and Chatham House.