OPINION

Inconsistent politics

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey’s ruling party, displayed a willingness to improve Greek-Turkish relations during his visit to Athens on Monday, but he studiously avoided making any verbal commitments to his Greek hosts. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity. Political Islam hardly fuels philhellenic sentiments, but it is clear that Erdogan’s political priorities differ from those of the post-Ataturk regime – the latter being the fundamental expression of Turkish expansionism. In any case, Erdogan took full advantage of the opportunity of this visit to declare his faith in Turkey’s European orientation and to emphatically request a date for EU accession talks. He was clearly using Athens as a platform to address Europe. The European Commission has categorically rejected Ankara’s request, but it is a well-known secret that Washington is urging the «15» to reverse their decision at next month’s Copenhagen summit. Ankara knows very well that Turkey is far from fulfilling the criteria to qualify as a candidate for EU membership, but it hopes that American pressure will work its usual magic. … Much of the European elite want Turkey in the EU for geopolitical and commercial reasons but not as a «full member.» They would prefer that Turkey’s candidacy continue forever, but the US is pushing in the opposite direction.