Turkey Relationship

It's Complicated

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. Erdogan has called on the United States not to delay the extradition of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating last month's violent coup attempt. (Presidential Press Service via AP)
The increasingly fraught relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Turkey is an important geopolitical power when it comes to the conflict in Syria and the ensuing refugee crisis.

  • Facts


    • An attempted coup on July 15 was thwarted after supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came out onto the streets.
    • There has been a widespread crackdown, focusing on a network of followers of Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gülen.
    • Turkey is a NATO ally of the West’s and is at the heart of the European Union’s attempts to curb the refugee flow into Europe.
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How complicated and contradictory the relationship of the West to Turkey has become is evident in the headlines of recent days.

After the horrible suicide bombing in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, Washington, Brussels and Berlin are outdoing each other with expressions of solidarity with their alliance partner in the fight against terror. Shortly beforehand, the German government fought for days about a position paper on Turkey drawn up by the federal foreign intelligence agency, the BND, in which Ankara is accused of clandestinely supporting those radical Islamists who are now being held responsible for the murderous attack last weekend at a Kurdish wedding celebration.

For weeks now, the West has been seesawing between adherence to principle and realpolitik. First the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is condemned for turning ever further away from Western democracy and cozying up to like-minded autocrats such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Shortly thereafter comes the assertion that Turkey is an “important partner” (Angela Merkel) in NATO and that Europe can’t do without Ankara’s help in the refugee crisis.

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