From Ankara’s point of view, it is an opportune time to continue to stake its claims in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey can leverage its position vis-à-vis the European Union and the United States across several conflict zones, particularly Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The battlefield successes of Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces have made Turkey’s use of coercive force in international relations even more popular. Decades of negotiations within the Minsk Group framework failed to restore any territory to Azerbaijan. Even though the positions captured by Azerbaijan are around the lowland periphery of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey has helped Azerbaijan to change the map.
While domestic support for a more assertive posture is higher, Ankara probably judged that there would be little cost imposed by Brussels, Berlin or Washington.
The EU postponed its decision on action against Turkey until the European Council meeting in December. The Trump administration is in the home stretch of the president’s re-election bid with in-person voting to occur on November 3.
Without committing an egregious action to force the White House to turn its attention to the Eastern Mediterranean, Ankara probably believes Donald Trump would give Turkey a pass for the next three weeks.
The strong immediate reactions by Berlin and Washington may have taken Ankara aback, but only further concrete action by the US or major European Union member-states will demonstrate that Ankara has actually miscalculated.
Michaël Tanchum teaches international relations of the Middle East and North Africa at the University of Navarra, Spain, and is a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies (AIES).