The Significance of Erdogan’s Victory for the West

The significance of Erdogan’s victory for the West can be observed in Turkey’s increased global strategic importance, particularly in light of the ongoing Ukraine war. Numerous world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, rushed to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his election win, underscoring the attention Turkey has garnered on the international stage.

Putin was quick to praise Erdogan’s “independent foreign policy” as a reason for his victory, even before the official results were announced. It can be assumed that Russia appreciates Turkey’s stance of not isolating the Kremlin despite its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, while Turkey’s NATO allies imposed sanctions and reduced their dependence on Russian energy. Trade between Turkey and Russia has even seen a significant increase since the start of the Ukrainian conflict.

Following Putin’s congratulations, US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron also extended their well wishes. Despite their reservations about Erdogan’s close ties to Russia and his suppression of free speech and democratic norms within Turkey, they recognize Turkey as a crucial, albeit complex and unpredictable, ally of the West.

Turkey is a key member of the NATO military alliance and participates in all its missions. While Erdogan maintains close ties with Russia, he also provides military aid to Ukraine. He played a notable role in brokering a deal that ended the blockade on Ukraine’s grain supplies by Russia, ensuring their flow to parts of the world dependent on them. Erdogan also, after initial hesitation, officially approved Finland’s membership in NATO, despite Russia’s opposition.

While Erdogan was once a strong advocate for Turkey joining the European Union, he now prioritizes an independent foreign policy and speaks of “making Turkey great again.” Throughout the years, he has developed transactional relationships with all his allies.

The United States has openly expressed its impatience in persuading Erdogan to approve Sweden’s NATO membership. Sweden’s inclusion would provide crucial Baltic Sea coverage for the alliance against Russia. The West hopes that the dire state of Turkey’s economy, and Erdogan’s need to stabilize finances and attract foreign investment, could create an opportunity to push for Sweden’s accession as a quid pro quo.

President Macron, on the other hand, is concerned about migration to the EU and seeks assurances from Erdogan as soon as possible. During the migration crisis of 2015, over a million refugees and asylum seekers, primarily from Syria, made perilous journeys across the Mediterranean in boats facilitated by human smugglers. Subsequently, Brussels reached a deal with Turkey, providing a large sum of money and promising visa-free travel for Turks into the EU (which was never fully implemented due to EU objections regarding Erdogan’s treatment of critics and political opponents). In return, Turkey was expected to prevent undocumented migrants from leaving Turkish waters and reaching the EU. However, the increasing number of Syrian refugees became highly unpopular among Turkish voters. In this month’s parliamentary elections, every political party pledged to address the migrant issue.

The EU is concerned about the potential for Turkey to push refugees back into Syria, endangering their safety, as well as the resurgence of people smuggling networks sending asylum seekers and migrants across the Mediterranean. Additionally, Brussels is on the defensive as Greece, an EU member, has been engaged in disputes with Erdogan over the Aegean Sea, and Cyprus remains angered by Erdogan’s call for a two-state solution (Greek and Turkish) to the long-standing divisions on the island following a Turkish invasion almost 50 years ago.

While Turkey was previously described as the bridge between Europe and the Middle East, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has significantly transformed Turkey’s status. Although Erdogan’s third decade in power is not expected to bring major foreign policy surprises, Turkey’s strategic allies are closely monitoring its actions. The decisions made by Turkey have far-reaching implications that matter to the West.

  1. Why did Putin congratulate Erdogan?
    Putin praised Erdogan’s “independent foreign policy” and his refusal to isolate Russia after the Ukraine invasion.

  2. How does Erdogan’s victory affect the West?
    Erdogan’s victory presents challenges and opportunities for the West due to Turkey’s NATO membership and its role in Ukraine.

  3. What is Erdogan’s stance on Turkey’s foreign policy?
    Erdogan seeks a more independent foreign policy and has transactional relationships with various allies.

  4. What are the West’s expectations regarding Turkey’s NATO membership and migration issues?
    The West hopes to leverage Turkey’s struggling economy to push for Sweden’s NATO membership and seeks assurances on managing migration.

  5. What are the key concerns between Turkey and the EU?
    Key concerns include the potential for refugee pushbacks into Syria and disagreements on territorial disputes and divided regions.

Leave a Comment

8 points about the India vs Saudi Arabia football match How to make Paneer 8 unique facts about the Asia Cup 2023 8 unique facts about Octopus 8 unique facts about Dolphins