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Turkey Needs the EU—The Question Is How Much Its Relationship Will Cost

 

European governments are currently witnessing a seemingly positive move by Turkey’s leadership toward the EU.

On the surface, this makes sense: Turkey’s economy is in very dire straits (and still depends on European markets and financial flows); the Lira is plummeting; hurtful sanctions have recently been imposed by the United States (and more may be coming); and Russia is having it its way in Syria (which will probably end up not being Turkey’s way).

As a result, the Turkish foreign ministry is issuing statements. The “EU Reform Action Group” met on August 29 and promised reforms of the judiciary and more. The Turkish president will soon go to Berlin, while the economy and finance minister has just visited Paris.

But words and visits are not policy, and Turkey’s rejuvenated feeling toward Europe is not very credible for two major reasons (other than its obvious anti-U.S. motivation.

First, for years President Erdoğan has based his electoral strategy on sharp criticisms of Europe. In 2017, he even pelted EU leaders with offensive remarks, including references to “Nazis” and “gas chambers,” a total anathema in European politics. No politician in Berlin, Paris, The Hague, or Vienna will easily be convinced that these were passing, innocuous campaign words. They are seen as part of a carefully crafted nationalist narrative, and they have lasting effects.  Read More

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