Has President Erdogan finally woken up to making friends?

By Ismail Veli…….

Turkey and Israel seem to have signed a deal that would help mend their relationship which was damaged when Israeli commandos attacked the human rights ship, Mavi Marmara in 2010. A jubilant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement and stated that the economic benefits for Israel would be positive. Israel agreed to pay a compensation package amounting to about 20 million Euros, but this would more than be made up with increased trade and improved security co-operation in the volatile world of the Middle East. In addition the Russian government made an announcement that President Erdogan apologized for the downing of a Russian jet in November of last year. Erdogan is reputed to have sent his condolences to the pilot’s family.

President Erdogan

President Erdogan of Turkey

Turkey has been hit by sanctions from Russia at a time of falling tourist numbers from the EU. Terrorism has affected people’s view that Turkey is  too risky. Russian tourists have stayed away in droves, and the growing number of refugees has put a massive strain on Turkey’s economy. But the timing of Erdogan’s apology has in my opinion been affected by the  British people’s vote to Brexit from the EU, Turkey’s change of mind with Russia cannot be a coincidence. With Europe in turmoil, any new and unwanted additional members, in particular Turkey with its 80 million people and Islamic roots would cause fragmentation beyond repair. For once Erdogan may have woken up and smelled the coffee. For all his bluster his advisers probably told him that a re-alignment outside the EU was essential to restore some confidence to Turkey’s volatile position in a region of infinite turmoil. Pragmatism and common sense seems to have finally prevailed. Contrary to some thoughts I don’t believe Turkey’s position has been strengthened as a result of a Brexit vote.

Perhaps the need for Europe to keep Turkey firmly on side vis a vis the immigration problem may have given Turkey an advantage, but the dream of being accepted into the EU is as remote as ever. Another sad bi-product of the EU problem is that Turkey may finally lose hope of ever joining the group. If so the necessary reforms needed to bring Turkey to a higher level of democratic reforms may continue its downward spiral. Unless Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian rule is reversed the people of Turkey are unlikely to fulfill their dream of a Western style Democracy for the foreseeable future.

The positive news of Turkey’s Israeli and Russian rapprochement may bring some joy on the diplomatic and economic front, but it’s unlikely that Erdogan’s attitude will change sufficiently to bring about the kind of democracy that would make Turkey even remotely acceptable to an increasingly nationalist Europe.


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