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Turkey’s EU Journey: Erdogan’s Second Miracle

we have hardly exaggerated – it is the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by virtue of his ability to make a pact at the same time with the West and its rivals (China, Russia, etc.). Few leaders can afford it – we can cite the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After his triumphant tour of the Gulf countries, where he took what he could – and not a little – from his former enemies, the Wahhabis, Erdogan will continue with another big file, which has dragged on for decades: His membership of the European Union (EU)…

Sweden’s ticket to NATO at a high price

The 27 European Foreign Ministers meet this Friday, July 21 in Brussels to give the starting signal for the examination of the rapprochement with Turkey. Well, for the moment we are not talking about formal membership of the EU but we will come to that very soon, Ankara will see to it.

The Turkish president has worn down the Europeans, taking advantage of a combination of circumstances that the Ukrainians are paying dearly for: war. Terrorized by the Russian ogre, Finland and Sweden had buried decades of neutrality to head for NATO. And as we know, the signature of all members of the Alliance is essential for any new membership. This is where Turkey’s strongman came up with the idea of linking Sweden’s fate to the reactivation of its EU dossier.

Ankara dawdled a bit for Finland’s membership but quickly gave in. But for Sweden he took his time. He seized the opportunity to demand major concessions such as US fighter jets, the heads of his sworn enemies stashed in Sweden – the Kurdish rebels – and a host of other things. And as NATO urged him to let Sweden pass, he said to himself that ultimately his demands on the table of the Europeans were not too high a price…

Many will still cry out for blackmail, as in the case of Syrian and Iraqi refugees that Ankara has monetized with billions of euros. But Erdogan has long ceased to care about jeers, wherever they come from.

A nice snub to Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel

The Turkish file dragged on because Europeans, it must be said, took a very dim view of the absorption of this large Muslim country – nearly 85 million inhabitants – which terrified them in many ways. And the two European heavyweights of the time, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, did everything to seal the Turkish file. Subsequently Erdogan closed the door with his many excesses on human rights and violations of democratic practices.

But water has flowed under the bridge since then. When Erdogan demanded that his EU file be exhumed so that he could sign Sweden’s NATO membership, Germany made it clear to him that linking the two cases was out of the question. Yet this is what the Europeans are doing this Friday in Brussels. The German Foreign Minister even defends the idea of a strategic reflection on the links with a “difficult, but important” partner…

An exit which echoes the words of the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, when he had supported two months ago the geopolitical urgency of standing up with Turkey after the re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latter won the presidential election hands down despite a catastrophic economic record. A real miracle. The second is being played right now in Brussels…

European foreign ministers will work this July 21 on four-year military aid of 20 billion euros to Ukraine. But it is certainly the Turkish file that will animate the debates. For the moment, we are sticking to the revival of the Customs Union and the liberalization of visas. But the Europeans will not be able to waver for long, they will have to give Erdogan a solid foundation by next October, when the Turkish Parliament begins the process of ratifying Sweden’s entry into NATO.

This article is originally published on tunisienumerique.com

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