24.10.2021 – 19:00
Central Bavarian Newspaper
The warm words of Recep Tayyip Erdogan during Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Istanbul were apparently only lip service. The fact that he praised Merkel’s efforts to establish a good German-Turkish relationship, despite all the tensions and differences of opinion, were probably just hollow words. A week later, the Turkish president threatened to expel ten ambassadors, including the German and the US, because they had campaigned for the release of the philanthropist Osman Kavala.
It is the recurring perfidious game that Erdogan, whenever he has domestic political problems, attacks the West particularly hard. It is not the rulers in Ankara to blame, but the others. The West, the influential preacher Fetullah Gülen, who lives in the USA, and the opposition in Turkey anyway, whom he is increasingly ruthlessly persecuting. It is now again a demonstration of supposed strength. In reality, however, it shows the weakness of its AKP system that largely controls the Turkish state and the judiciary.
Erdogan’s back to the wall. Turkey is in a deep economic crisis. The Turkish lira is still on the downside. And Erdogan’s AKP – with the cocky name of the Justice and Recovery Party founded in 2001 – is losing support. Especially those under 25 turn their backs on the almighty state party. The ruler of the Bosphorus really has to worry about his re-election in 2023. Just a third of the Turks would vote for the AKP today. A horror scenario for the head of state, who is used to absolute majorities.
With the – not yet officially completed – expulsion of the ambassadors, including several NATO countries, Erdogan is in the process of going over the top. He is moving further and further away from the western alliance. It is doubtful whether these outward attacks in the country really bring him points. In terms of foreign and alliance policy, however, this strategy of ever new pinpricks to the west is devastating. Erdogan snubs those partners that his economy urgently needs in order to get back on its feet. This applies not only to tourism, which is dependent on many guests from abroad, but also to many other areas of the economy in which investments are desperately sought.
Irrespective of this, Erdogan remains an unpredictable, but nonetheless indispensable partner of the West. The refugee movement from the civil war country Syria could only be contained to a certain extent because Turkey has taken in over three million refugees. The corresponding agreement with the EU secures Turkey billions of euros in revenue every year and protects Western Europe from an even greater influx of refugees. There is no serious alternative to this agreement that Angela Merkel initiated in 2016. Erdogan keeps bringing the pressure potential contained therein into play.
But what should Germany do? Above all, it is important that Berlin, Brussels and Washington set up a common strategy to oppose Erdogan and not allow themselves to be played off against each other. The economic and civil society contacts with Turkey must also be intensified, because Turkey is much more than Erdogan and the AKP. The categorical stop of arms exports, as demanded by the Greens Claudia Roth, is at least questionable. Moscow and Beijing would love to jump in and sell Turkey military equipment.
Central Bavarian Newspaper
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Original content from: Mittelbayerische Zeitung, transmitted by news aktuell