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Turkish president Recep Erdogan continued his pivot away from the US and Europe on Friday, telling provincial leaders of the ruling AKP party that he is hit with “a new assault every day.”
“Those who are unable to bring Turkey to its knees politically, socially and diplomatically appear before us with a new game,” Al Monitor reported Erdogan as saying. “Europe continues to stall, but we remain patient. You will be the ones to leave the table, not us. If you are honest, make your statement and let’s finish this. We have no need for you,” he added.
Despite the growing rift, Europe is still Turkey’s biggest source of direct investment and its main trading partner. Western countries also rely on Turkish air bases to fight the Islamic state, and as the second-largest army in NATO Turkey’s has long balanced Iranian and Russian influence. Some question the substance of the shift, viewing the Turkish president’s inflammatory rhetoric as a domestic political tool.
“Turkey’s foreign policy is viewed as a resource to address the needs of domestic policy,” Ilter Turan, professor emeritus of international relations at Bilgi University in Istanbul, told Al-Monitor. “[Pointing the finger abroad] puts the strife he is leading inside on the back burner. It can be assessed as an uncomplicated political tactic.”
“Turkey has no intention of withdrawing from the [EU] process,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday. Ankara formally began the process in 2005 but has concluded only one of 31 negotiating chapters.
As Asia Unhedged reported earlier today, China is also poised to play a greater role in Turkey’s economy, offsetting some of it’s reliance on the West.