Turkish turnabout

Erdogan Closing Door on Europe

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No Turkish delight.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Turkey’s president is increasingly turning its back on Europe. But the European Union hopes to use popular support for membership of the bloc to force him into reforms.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Turkey has been in negotiations to gain E.U. mebership since 2005.
    • In the past year, Mr. Erdogan has begun implementing more pro-Islamic and anti-Western policies.
    • A recent survey showed that 53 percent of Turks favor joining the European Union.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan get along fine.

During the Russian president’s visit to Ankara on Monday, the political affinity between the two powerful leaders was clear to see.

But what binds them ever more closely is that neither have many friends in the West, and their countries are increasingly isolated.

In Russia, Mr. Erdogan sees more than just an energy provider that supplies two-thirds of Turkey’s gas and is currently building its first nuclear power plant. He also sees a much-needed friend to balance strained relations with neighbors in the Middle East and Europe.

Last year, the Turkish leader held a public dialogue with Mr. Putin about his country joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a political and economic pact that links Russia, China and four central Asian countries. That way, Mr. Erdogan said, Turkey could “spare itself all the bother with the European Union.”

How plausible this policy is, is open to question.

But being in touch with reality has never been a major tenet of Mr. Erdogan’s foreign policy. His philosophy is “no problems with the neighbors.” But the current situation could better be described as “constant problems with the neighbors.”

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