The policy of appeasement against Erdogan failed. At the NATO summit in Brussels, the EU will have to find a new strategy. But some influence there.
Throughout his career, Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened with the new party: it started out as an Islamist, and in the first years as Prime Minister portrayed the Democrat. Now he is ruling Turkey as a despot.
Some politicians in Europe had hoped that after the referendum of April 16, Erdogan will return to a moderate course. But since then, Turkey’s President began to govern their country in a more authoritarian manner.
Last month, Erdogan was removed from service five thousand employees. His government ordered the arrest of a German journalist Masala Tolu (Tolu Mesale) and forbade members of Parliament to visit German soldiers at the base in Incirlik.
On Thursday, the Turkish President will travel to Brussels, within the framework of the NATO summit to talk in particular with the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (Jean-Claude Juncker). But first, Europeans need to acknowledge an inconvenient truth. No matter how much they cajole or threaten Erdogan will not abandon its authoritarian politics completely. He went too far in limiting Turkish democracy, in order to again become a reformer who was at times in the period from 2003 to 2007.
Partner important — this applies to both sides
The EU should not overestimate the power of the President of Turkey. Let the new Constitution granted Erdogan the authority, which was not one Turkish politics since the founding of Ataturk. But the country he runs, suffers from a schism. The state apparatus is partially paralyzed mass layoffs. Army in Syria and Iraq involved in complex military operations. The economy is in a state of stagnation.
Erdogan is right when he says that Europe needs Turkey. Especially the Germans and the Turks are closely linked for decades of migration. Turkey hosted almost three million refugees from Syria — more than any other country. It is a key country in the fight against terrorism from the so-called Islamic state (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.).
But Turkey is also dependent on the EU. She leads half of all its trade with Europe. Without investment German, French, Italian companies, the Turkish economy will be destroyed.
So Europe should be confident to deal with Erdogan. It does not mean “gently hit the table” as usual call on German politicians. Symbolic gestures, like calling the Turkish Ambassador in Berlin, has not helped anyone.
The EU can rely only on the economy
Europeans have to negotiate with Erdogan where we can win — in the economy. Last year tourism in Turkey fell by a third, and he will not recover in 2017. Lyra is incredibly weak, this has not happened since 1981. Turkey needs money, and she therefore sought to strengthen the customs Union.
Here, the EU has the leverage. It can facilitate Turkish companies export goods and services to Europe and to expect a concessions from the government in Ankara to respect human rights.
At the same time, the Europeans more than ever, must take care of Turkish civil society. Now is the time to invest in educational programs, NGOs, exchange of scientists, journalists, artists — even if such an initiative will not bring the imminent public-relations success.