Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crossed many, many red lines. He is now a systemic threat to the West and beyond. He lashes out against French President Emmanuel Macron, one of Europe’s two most powerful leaders. He mouths off to the Americans, provoking them to impose sanctions on Turkey over the Russian S-400 missile system. He tests Vladimir Putin’s patience by pushing the clearest red line for Russia, which is the presence of Islamists on the country’s periphery. He participates in wars that do not concern Turkish territory, and he is doing so blatantly and with arrogance.
The good news for us is that even those who refused to understand what they are dealing with are doing so now. They realize they are dealing with a systemic threat, a man who has lost it. But we are the ones who have the problem with Turkey at the moment. How many leaders will follow the example of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who dared to impose an arms embargo? Europe is divided, there are countries with many interests in Turkey, while there are individual leaders who have close relations with Erdogan.
Any official response to Ankara’s actions is very unlikely to go through the EU and would be even more difficult through NATO. Washington is in a period of introversion and US President Donald Trump’s personal relationship may play an even more crucial role after a possible defeat in the upcoming elections. Trump will be president until January. Greece, of course, has built strong alliances, but now is the time to triple its efforts in public diplomacy and alert Hellenism along with our many natural allies in order to form public opinion around the world.
For the first time, however, it seems that Erdogan has fallen into the trap of strategic hubris. This is evidenced by the reaction of the markets and the escalation of the international outcry. Time is working against him. One last thing: At this point, it is impossible and dangerously naive to believe that a compromise can be reached with Ankara. Not today, not with this Turkey.