News from the Arab Press

Erdogan Between East And West

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

September 12, 2018

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Al-Quds al-Araby, London, September 8

The Turkish government has certainly seen better days. Caught between U.S. President Donald Trump’s whims in the West and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crazes in the East, the government in Ankara is currently navigating stormy waters in an attempt to maintain stability. With no international partners left to turn to, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to soften his tone against Europe in an effort to placate Brussels and normalize his country’s relations with its neighbors. In his recent speeches and interviews, he referred to countries like France and Germany as “strategic” trade partners with whom Turkey would like to conduct more business. This sentiment has not gone by unrequited. French President Emmanuel Macron called on his European counterparts to help save the Turkish economy from recession by investing in the imports of Turkish goods and services. He stated that wile Turkey will not join the European Union, it is still viewed by Europe as a valuable political partner. Such a statement would have been virtually unfathomable only a year or two ago, when Turkey sought to join the EU. It would have likely sparked a wave of heated remarks by Erdogan against various European leaders, including personal slurs and insults against his counterparts. But times have changed, and desperate times call for desperate measures: The Turkish premier understands very well that in order to save the Turkish Lira from further decline, he must accept whatever lifeline is offered to him. Macron’s remarks, even if merely symbolic, are momentous. Similarly, the upcoming visit of the German foreign minister to Turkey is another positive development. With little hope to restore his ties with Trump or Putin, Erdogan is trying to count his losses and minimize the damage he has done to his country’s economy over the course of the past few weeks. This may very well send him into the open arms of Europe. There, he will be met with an embrace, but will also be required to make major democratic reforms in his country. These are the same reforms he was asked to carry out in return for entry into the EU. This time, however, he will do them in return for almost nothing in return. – Baker Sidki

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