The West’s overdue awakening

The West’s overdue awakening

Here we are consumed by our domestic affairs when important and unpredictable developments are taking place around us that have a direct bearing on us.

Turkey seems to have pushed too far in its uneasy relationship with the West. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have failed to realize how much the world changed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ankara’s continued refusal to green-light the induction of Sweden and Finland into NATO has caused an incredible amount of frustration in Washington, as well as in Europe. So too have its games with Moscow, allowing Russia to sidestep Western sanctions. Everyone now knows that the enormous number of microchips being imported by Turkey in recent months is not the result of an increase in Turkish industrial production. The same is obviously the case with airplane parts.

The revelations made by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in his new book, meanwhile, have shed light on developments in American decision-making centers vis-a-vis Erdogan before the Ukraine war. There was already a lot of frustration with the Turkish leader over Syria but also over his ties with extreme Islamic forces. It appears that even in the Pentagon – traditionally Erdogan’s biggest champion – there were those who simply gave up trying to defend him.

This is not to say that Turkey doesn’t still have apologists and allies. It does, in Washington and in Berlin. It’s just that Erdogan is making their job harder. It means something when The Economist – which always leans in favor of Turkey – exercises such harsh criticism of the Turkish leader.

What, however, does all this boil down to for Greece? The government believes that it secures a period of calm until the elections in both countries. There have, of course, been assurances to this effect from both European and American sources. On the other hand, though, Turkey continues to weave its narrative with statements and decisions from its security council. Experienced analysts are beginning to wonder whether moves like the publication of a video by a state defense industry showing a drone attacking a Greek island is just a random move or a deliberate attempt to create a certain climate inside Turkey as well.

What is certain is that we’re talking about a different Turkey than what it was during the 1996 Imia crisis or in 1974. It is a Turkey that is on a clear anti-Western trajectory and is intensely anti-American. We’re also talking about an Erdogan who sees enemies everywhere but also regards himself as equal to America’s Joe Biden, Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. And we’re also talking about a West that is slowly – and very belatedly – starting to look the new reality in the eye. 

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