Turkish Strongman’s Western Charm Offensive is Born of Desperation

After years of crises and fraught relations with old Western allies, President Erdogan is putting out feelers to the West – to save the economy and his regime, experts say.

“Tensions have eased in our relations. We will … reengage in joint work,” French President Emanuel Macron announced on June 25 at the EU summit, where Brussels pledged 3 billion euros to help Turkey to deal with the refugees piling up at the EU’s gates.

Macron’s words reflected the recent improvement in Turkey-EU relations after years of tension – but many experts doubt the prospect of a new era in relations despite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempted rapprochement.

Once the West’s trusted ally on its eastern border, Turkey’s ties with the West under Erdogan have soured in the last decade, unlike the case in Erdogan’s first years in power.

The causes include several international crises, from refugee crises to tensions in the Eastern Med, as well as the country’s worsening human rights and democracy record.

Erdogan’s rapprochement with Russia and his decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile systems in 2019 delivered a serious blow to relations.

Consequently, in September 2020, the US Congress introduced sanctions on Turkey and Ankara was kicked of the new generation F-35 fighter jet project.

However, in the last few months, Erdogan’s has been trying to reengage with former allies, as the Turkish economy deteriorates and the strongman’s electoral support falls, according to experts.

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