Murat Yetkin:  Will Erdoğan’s “parting ways with EU” maneuver yield a result?

When President Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned the possibility of Türkiye parting ways with the European Union on his way to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, no one from the EU has so far said “Don’t go, stay; we’ll give you what you want”.


Perhaps there is an expectation among the Turkish President and his close circle that the EU leaders will give Erdoğan the message “not without Turkey” during the bilateral meetings to be held during the UN Assembly.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stand out in Erdoğan’s meeting program. A meeting with US President Joe Biden is not yet on the programme.


Of course, Erdoğan has the challenge of asking the West for money and trying to scold them at the same time.


On his way to the last NATO summit in June, he added, at the last minute, to the list of conditions for Sweden’s membership the reviving membership negotiations with the EU, which raised hopes in Türkiye that the Customs Union would be renewed and the visa difficulties would be solved.

Within two months, the condition to revive the negotiations turned into a threat to part ways with the EU. Didn’t anyone tell the President that the circles in the EU that don’t want Türkiye in the union have been waiting for years for Türkiye to be the one to break the ties?


The threat of parting ways is serious

Namık Tan, the main opposition CHP’s new foreign policy voice, who has managed to keep himself away from internal party squabbles, said in an interview that “Erdoğan cannot leave the EU table; Europeans will not take his words seriously”.

However, I think there is something else very serious about Erdoğan’s threat of parting ways with the EU: Türkiye’s president is increasingly becoming a man whose harsh outbursts echo in the void and fizzle out.


Hakan Fidan, İbrahim Kalın, and the new National Security Advisor, Çağatay Kılıç, have more than enough knowledge and skills to see this direction. Why don’t they see it and warn the president about it?


With this policy, Türkiye may lose its unique strategic position in Russia’s war against Ukraine.



Will NATO be next parting ways?

Türkiye has geopolitical weight, and this weight should not be diminished by unrewarding outbursts, such as threatening to part ways with the EU.


It is true that Türkiye has seized a window of opportunity with the conditions it has put forward for Sweden’s NATO membership, especially with regard to the fight against the PKK; any other country would use this opportunity.


But can Erdoğan impose the same conditions on the US, which openly provides arms, money, training, and protection to PKK affiliates in Syria?

If the threat of parting ways with the EU fails, will Erdogan’s next move be to threaten Türkiye’s parting ways with NATO?

Walking away cannot be seen as the only way to emphasise its importance.


A return to “precious solitude”?

Once the idea of parting ways has entered the mind, the next step can go to asking “Why not?”, then “It’s due time”, then searching “Where else?” and the arrogance of “It’s up to them”.

Or, I will say, “Are we going back to the politics of precious solitude?”

I repeat, but it is as if we are trying to ask the West for money and at the same time try to scold them; it is a difficult task.



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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.