The AK Party government has looked to the West in recent years, but developments in the international arena have gradually made this more difficult.
The most obvious change occurred after Joe Biden was elected as president of the U.S. President Erdogan does not have the chemistry with Biden at the bilateral level that he had with former president Trump. In fact, when he couldn’t get an appointment with President Biden during his latest New York visit, he expressed this concern in person, saying that “I can’t say we made a good start with Biden.”
Apparently, neither Turkey nor relations with Erdogan himself are among President Biden’s priorities. Erdogan, who realized this during his New York visit, is still trying to be included in the U.S.’s priorities by bringing up the purchase of a second batch of S-400s and even the purchase of fighter jets from Russia. Washington, concerned that Turkey might stray further into the Russian orbit, seems to have hastily arranged a bilateral meeting between Erdogan and Biden, although it still hasn’t included him in the list of top priorities. Ankara leaked information that the two leaders would meet on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit to be held in Rome in •ctober. This information hasn’t been confirmed by Washington yet.
Whether the meeting will be held or not is not yet known. But even if it happens, no one expects it to be a comprehensive meeting, as Washington tends to avoid centering Turkey in American foreign policy. If the meeting is held, it seems it will be a meeting for the sake of appearances.
GERMANY’S ELECTION RESULTS: TOUGH PERIOD STARTS WITH THE EU
The communication problems between the AK Party government and the U.S. are likely to start with the European Union (EU) as well, because soon there will be no Merkel in Germany to put into play when the going gets tough.
Moreover, considering the election results, neither a new German Chancellor nor a new government will be in play for some time.
The Social Democrats (SPD) won the highest number of seats in the German elections by a narrow margin. However, the number of deputies is insufficient to form a government. SPD’s candidate
Olaf Scholz could become the new chancellor of Germany if the SPD forms a coalition with two other parties.
The same situation is true for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) led by Merkel. Armin Laschet, who has taken over the party leadership from Merkel, will need the support of the same two parties in order to form a government.
These two key parties are the Greens and Liberals (FDP). The problem for Ankara is that both the Greens and the FDP, which will become coalition partners, are rather harsh critics of the AK Party government’s anti-democratic policies at home and militarist policies abroad.
FDP members frequently comment on ending Turkey’s EU membership process and levying a heavy arms embargo against Ankara. The Greens, meanwhile, harshly criticize the AK Party government in terms of human rights violations, freedom of expression, and the situation of the press and judiciary in Turkey. The new German government, in which these two parties will jointly take part, is unlikely to be as tolerant of Turkey as it was during Merkel’s term.
FRANCE MAY ENHANCE DOMINANCE
There is another issue Turkey may face if coalition talks in Germany take a long time. As Germany’s negotiations to form a government are prolonged, there will clearly be a power vacuum within the EU. France is the clear candidate to fill this gap.
Moreover, there is the fact that France will hold the EU Council presidency for a 6-month period starting on January 1, 2022.
Recently, Turkey and France have clashed on almost all regional issues, from Africa to the Middle East and the East Mediterranean.
Moreover, France seems to be in the process of building a serious alliance with Greece. The last indications of this were decisions announced after the meeting held between Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis and French President Macron. Greece stated that it will purchase three frigates in addition to fighter jets that it had previously bought from France. With this weighty arms procurement, France has thoroughly settled on the Greek- Greek Cypriot front in the East Mediterranean.
Add to these Macron’s show at the regional cooperation summit held last month in Baghdad and his visits to Mosul and Erbil. France is depicting itself as a candidate to restrict Turkey’s influence in the Middle East. The same France has close relations with Egypt, which Turkey can’t seem to make peace with, as well as with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two countries with which Turkey will never again have the positive relations it once had, no matter how much it tries.
The deadlock in relations with the West seems to have put the squeeze on the AK Party government, especially in an environment where Turkey is expected to take steps backward following the recent Erdogan-Putin meeting held in Sochi.
Can Erdogan proceed to the ‘my brother’ stage in all this entrapment with Macron, even though he has on occasion questioned the French leader’s mental health at meetings?
Only time will tell…
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