Erdogan and Europe Head for Political Blow-Up They Can't Afford
*Clash of two populisms risks downward spiral in relations
*At stake are refugee deal and EU-dependent Turkish economy
by Marc Champion
March 15, 2017, 2:04 PM EDT
Politicians in Turkey and the European Union stoking tensions for short-term electoral gain may have done lasting damage to vital economic and security ties.
While relations between the EU and Turkey have been rocky for years, the furor of recent days — with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan freely hurling the Nazi epithet at his western antagonists — marks a rift that could prove irreparable. Turkey has been negotiating EU membership since 2005, but progress has come close to a halt.
“Even without anyone saying it, Turkey’s EU membership talks will go into an irreversible coma now,” said Marc Pierini, who served as the EU’s ambassador to Turkey from 2006-2011 and is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, a Brussels-based think tank. “That will suit everybody, except Turkey’s democrats.”
Simmering tensions between the NATO allies boiled over when bitter campaigns were added to the mix last weekend. Dutch officials prevented Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing his plane to seek support among expatriates, expelled another cabinet minister from the country and quelled the ensuing protests by Dutch Turks. That prompted Erdogan’s denunciations.
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