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| On 1 month ago

Why is Erdoğan suddenly “flirting” with the EU?

By Ioanna Kleftogianni

People have spoken about the sudden “flirtation” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and with all the European ambassadors in his country in the shadow of the inauguration of the new U.S. President.

Is Turkey really heading for elections?

The question is not rhetorical.

Erdoğan is seriously considering running an early election in June instead of waiting until 2023.

This is in order to anticipate the deepening economic crisis and contain his declining popularity.

“He will probably announce it, if he finally decides, in May,” international affairs analyst Meriç Şenyüz told us from Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις, Turkish: İstanbul).

Anxious, with two fronts open, domestically with the economic crisis and the pandemic, and internationally with the new balances by the Biden government and the possible new sanctions against his country, the Turkish President seems to suddenly fold.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“His insulting remarks to the French President were suddenly replaced by a correspondence in formality,” commented a diplomatic agent who has served in the Greek embassy in Ankara.

“In fact, he is planning to send a Turkish ambassador to Paris. These moves are not accidental,” he added.

The diplomatic invitation made by Erdoğan to European ambassadors a few days ago in a move to warm relations with European governments, also made an impression on diplomatic circles.

Erdoğan: Turning 2021 into a success in EU-Turkey relations

“It is obvious how much he is concerned about Europe. In the context of its folding, with the eyes turned to the USA, the invitation was made to the exploratory ones with Greece, from which, however, no real fruits are expected,” added the diplomatic agent.

It is no coincidence that the Greek Prime Minister in an interview with Monocle magazine stressed:

“I have always extended a hand of friendship to Turkey. And I have always urged President Erdoğan to sit down and discuss our main difference, which is the delimitation of our maritime zones.

“History goes back many decades, but the issue can be resolved. If we do not succeed, we can go to the International Court of Justice. That is the reason why international courts exist.”

“The new Biden administration will support the Kurds, Erdoğan will be more careful”

“Turkey is trying to build new bridges to the West. It is clear,” said Secretary of International Relations of New Democracy and a close associate of the Greek Prime Minister in terms of international affairs and European issues, Tassos Hadjivassiliou.

“Anxious after the U.S. sanctions over the S-400s and looking to the European Summit in March, where the overall EU-Turkey relationship will be put on the table, Ankara is trying to replace the channels of communication with the western world,” he continued.

“This is what he does with all these moves,” explained the international relations expert.

“In every way, the Turkish president must show restraint, and in the Middle East the new Biden administration will support the Kurds,”  Hadjivassiliou said.

“This is one of the reasons why Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not at all satisfied with the election of a new President in the United States and he will be more careful in the future,” added the expert.

“In addition, Biden is one of the most philhellenic American politicians. This will be taken seriously by Ankara,” he concluded.

The new US Secretary of State Athony Blinken, a few hours before Biden was sworn in, referred again to the Erdoğan government as being “unacceptable” by acquiring the Russian S-400 missile system, which is one of the  problems in US-Turkish relations.

During his hearing in the Senate Committee, Blinken even left open the possibility of new sanctions against Ankara.

Interestingly, Blinken did not hesitate to mention the destabilizing role of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

When referring to Erdoğan’s sudden change of posture, a source from the Foreign Ministry said “these should not be seen as unrelated to his suddenly compromising and pro-European stance.”

“This is American pressure from behind,” the source said, adding “They are well-known tactics and today he especially feels a knife at his throat.”


Ioanna Kleftogianni
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