Turkey is a strategically important partner for the West. President Erdogan knows this, he currently wants to score points in his election campaign with foreign policy issues.
“Together we will build Turkey’s century,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told thousands of cheering supporters in Ankara. Humility is not Erdogan’s business. When the president went into campaign mode in October, he excited himself and the nation. He promised that Turkey would become one of the ten largest economies in a few years.
On the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the state in November 2023, he wants to present himself as the leader of a country that has risen again to become one of the biggest players on the political world stage after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Do not hesitate when investing with NATO partners
Before Erdogan can stage the planned celebration himself, he must win the mid-May elections. For this, the necessary votes must be collected from its own religious-conservative core electorate. An appropriate way to do this is to flex their muscles in foreign policy and show national power.
As before the last elections five years ago, Erdogan is not afraid to take on NATO partners. The main focus at that time was the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, the invasion of Turkish troops in northern Syria and the dispute with Greece over sovereign territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, this time focusing on two conflicts.
Erdogan rejects Sweden’s NATO membership
On the one hand, there is disagreement over Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. Except for Hungary and Turkey, all other NATO members approved the admission of the two northern Europeans. Ankara has so far refused to do so, especially in the case of Sweden, for alleged non-cooperation in the fight against terrorist organizations such as the PKK and the Gülen sect.
Pro-government Turkish media poured out angry comments when Kurdish activists tied a cloth figure resembling Erdogan to a lamppost in Stockholm. And when a far-right extremist finally burned a Quran outside the Turkish embassy in January, Erdogan finally slammed the door on the Swedes. The Turkish President couldn’t have asked for better campaign support.
Erdogan seeks repatriation deals for Syrian refugees
On the other hand, Erdogan pursues the goal of gradually getting rid of Syrian refugees, about 3.6 million of whom have been taken by Turkey. If he manages to negotiate a repatriation deal with the Syrian government, it would be an internal coup.
However, in terms of foreign policy, this target is quite problematic. For this, high-level talks would have to be held with the protective forces of the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran, and with the Syrian ruler Assad himself. Ankara has been preparing for such a meeting for months. The first negotiations at ministerial level have already taken place. In any case, direct talks with Syrian dictator Assad have hitherto been taboo for the West.
Communication with Kyiv and Moscow
However, Erdogan is aware of Turkey’s geopolitical importance and uses this position cleverly. He established himself as a mediator in Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and successfully negotiated a grain agreement. Erdogan maintains diplomatic contacts with both Kyiv and Moscow. Turkey carries out armament projects with both warring parties. Ankara is not involved in sanctions against Russia and has become one of Moscow’s biggest oil consumers.
The West will let the troublemaker Turk do his job as long as Erdogan doesn’t go too far. Neither Washington nor Brussels are currently interested in a confrontational course as they were five years ago. Turkey is very important as NATO’s second largest military power. So you keep quiet and hope that Erdogan’s foreign policy mind will calm down again after the election.
I am Timothy Glover, a professional journalist and content creator. I specialize in writing and editing for news websites, specifically covering politics. I have been working as an author at News Unrolled for the past five years and have built up a reputation for producing quality content that is both informative and engaging.