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Tipping the Balance by Approaching the EU -by Yagmur Ozturk/Birgun #TurkeyEU

Tipping the Balance by Approaching the EU -by Yagmur Ozturk/Birgun <a class="hashtagger" href="">#TurkeyEU</a>

Semih Idiz talks about Turkey’s renewed approach for foreign affairs after relations with the US turned sour: Europe is well aware of Turkey’s significance. We may see new developments soon.

Following the breakdown of relations with the US, something that had been brewing for a while and culminated in the Andrew Brunson case, Erdogan and his administration began steering the wheel towards the EU. We have seen face to face contacts with EU officials resulting in complementary messages. There have also been other developments that will appease Brussels such as the releasing of Taner Kilic, Amnesty International’s Turkey representative. Turkey is on a track to mend its relations with Europe who is also looking to do the same with Turkey in the light of trade wars with the US, and the problems the two sides are having about NATO contributions. Semih Idiz explains what to expect from these developments in the coming days.

Idiz thinks the EU is aware of Turkey’s importance, and although they haven’t exactly said they were in solidarity with Turkey, they have been sending positive messages our way. “We may see positive developments on the EU side soon. WE may see steps being taken to overcome our differences very soon. OF course, we must not disregard the background for these developments. Donald Trump’s messages during the NATO summit have taken their toll on the US-EU relations. Trump, in a way, has brought Turkey and the EU closer.”

Semih Idiz expects the springtime relations to continue for some time: “Our relations with Europe run deep -historically, but also commercially. Turkey’s economic crisis is a matter of concern for Europe. Spanish, Italian and French financial institutions might be adversely affected because of Turkey. And accordingly, these countries are trying to help Turkey get out of this mess. If the current atmosphere prevails, we may see a general well-being of our relations with the EU.”

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Surely, the betterment of our liaisons with Europe does not automatically guarantee the end of Turkey’s problems with them. There are still many disagreements between the two sides, but they are currently set aside for immediate concerns: “We must not forget that Turkey has individual problems with individual EU countries. We all know the problems we were recently having with the Netherlands and Germany. But problems are overcome through baby steps -just as when Turkey released the German journalist, Deniz Yucel despite not backtracking on Brunson. It is possible that we see further commendations from both sides.”

Mr. Idiz thinks the problems with the US may take some time to heal, and it is not like other crises: “I don’t expect to see a quick resolution. This is unlike other crises we have seen. We had one during the Cyprus operation, but even that wasn’t cutting as deep as it is now. This one is more structural. At the time of the Cyprus operation, there was the Cold War going on in the background at full tilt, and Turkey’s NATO membership was of utmost importance. Likewise, Turkey was seeing Russia as a threat, and therefore regarded an alliance with the US as crucial. But all those strategic alliances have changed. The national interests of the two countries are not in alignment. We can see that clearly in Syria, and we are likely to see more examples in the near future. That’s the main reason why I don’t see an immediate solution to the problem. But I still believe that both parties will try to contain the enmities as much as they can. There is still a longstanding symbiosis between the two nations, whether it be Incirlik Airbase, or Turkey’s dependency on the US for its security and defense policies. Having said that, the magic of our love affair with the US is over, that much is certain.”

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Originally published in Turkish at:

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