EU top politicians Ursula van der Leyen and Charles Michel have more pleasant conversation partners than Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish president, who met with the commissioner and chairman of the Brussels Council in Ankara, is fueling military conflicts in Syria and Libya. As for the island of Cyprus, he is pursuing an aggressive course and a permanent two-state solution against EU views.
Criticism of withdrawal from Istanbul Conference
Nevertheless, the meeting in Ankara was the right one – as a necessary explanation for what should and should not be done with the EU. Against all criticism, it is necessary to say what mistakes the Turkish head of state must face – including the withdrawal of Turkey from the Istanbul Conference for the Protection of Women – which he has done in recent times. The personal appearance of van der Lions and Michaels weighed in on EU criticism.
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Erdogan is blunted in the hope that the EU will give him new economic relief within the framework of the customs union. That’s not all: Erdogan is aware of the differences in Turkish policy between Berlin, Paris and Athens, and wants to exploit the potential for divisions within Europe and continue to realize his great power aspirations in the eastern Mediterranean.
Sanctions are not yet on the table
But the rulers of Ankara should not go too far. As Council President Michael pointed out after the meeting, the EU’s outstretched hand could be withdrawn at any time. This is because in the conflict with Greece and Cyprus over gas drilling, Erdogan did not provide evidence that he really did not want to offer any way out. The new EU sanctions against Turkey are by no means over.
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On the other hand, if a basis of trust is created between Brussels and Ankara, the EU will be free to extend economic concessions to Turkey until the next summit in June.
Approaching the EU is not an option
The only thing the EU should not do: feed seriously expectations that Turkey will enter Ankara. For a long time, the EU accession process in Brussels was based on the belief that the time for democratization in Turkey at a time after Erdogan would strike again. The recent wave of repression against the opposition shows that the dictatorship of Erdogan and his AKP is long overdue.