Geopolitical Dilemma

Realpolitik Must Guide Europe's Turkey Policy

Turkey’s President Erdogan waits for the start of a meeting with EU Council President Tusk in Brussels
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had an uneasy relationship with Europe.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Europe is now confronted with the fact that a possible new strategic partnership between Russia and Turkey, a NATO member, will drive a further wedge into the tense relationship between Europe and Turkey.

  • Facts


    • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown in Turkey in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt.
    • Turkey is a member of the NATO military alliance and has applied to join the European Union.
    • Other countries with strategic interests in Turkey include Middle East states, Russia and the United States.
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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repressive actions after the failed putsch in Turkey are difficult for Europe to accept. No question about it, his policies are irreconcilable with our democratic and constitutional values. But does a reciprocal relationship of geopolitical dependency allow a clear European response?

Because of the need to minimize security risks, Europe will have little alternative to continuing to work with Turkey. That’s bad news for the European value system. Equally bad is that little hope exists at the moment that anything will change for the better in Turkey’s domestic politics.

Let’s not forget: Europe reacted too late. It let the issue of Turkey’s admission to the European Union remain uncertain for too long, and that took away further incentives toward democratization and harmonization with E.U. laws.

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