Turkey and the West in the Context of the Latest Terrorist Attacks in Europe and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Prof. Dr. Tarık OĞUZLU
16 December 2015
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Recent years have witnessed that Turkey’s relations with its western partners within NATO and the European Union have soured due to the growing disagreements over the geopolitical developments taking place in the wider Black Sea and Middle East regions as well as the allegedly illiberal authoritarian turn in Turkey’s domestic politics. An increasing number of analysts began to argue that Turkey has been estranging from the West in terms of the values and norms that constitute the western international community.

 

The slowing down of the membership negotiations with the European Union since the second half of the last decade; emerging points of disagreements with the United States concerning how to deal with the crises in Egypt, Iraq and Syria, particularly following the rise of Islamic State as an existential threat in the context of western security interests in the Middle East; the determination of Turkish decision makers to help improve relations with Russia and China economically and strategically while relations relations between these global heavyweights and the western international community have dramatically soured over the crises in Ukraine and East and South China Seas; and the adoption of an increasingly assertive and neo-Ottomonist foreign policy discourse by Turkish rulers in Turkey’s near abroad have all contributed to the rise of doubts on the direction of Turkish foreign policy.

 

Despite the gloomy picture of Turkey’s regional and global orientation as mentioned above, some other factors in recent months appear to have led Turkey and its western partners to somehow reconcile their differences and take some actions in the name of mending fences. The Russian military intervention in the Syrian crisis, the speed transformation of the Middle East into a non-governable jungle along sectarian and ethnic fault lines, the rise of IS and other non-state actors in such a way to help shake the Westphalian character of regional security order in the Middle East, the exposition of European Union countries to the threats emanating from the ongoing refugee flows and simultaneous rise in xenophobic, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim currents across the European continent, the exposition of major European countries to Middle East related transnational terrorist attacks and the growing Iranian influence in the region in the wake of the historic nuclear deal seem to have all pushed Turkish and western/European rulers to once again seek ways to strategically cooperate. 

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