With the aim of mobilizing his national Islamic electoral base

Erdogan continues his offensive diplomacy despite its economic cost

Erdogan has maintained a good relationship with Trump despite the tension that sometimes marred him.


The foreign policy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has been increasing in intensity since 2016, has created a gap between Ankara and its Western allies, and exacerbated the economic situation in his country, but analysts are unlikely to change his approach.

Erdogan is facing accusations from his critics of adopting offensive diplomacy to mobilize his nationalist Islamist electoral base, amid economic difficulties that are hurting his popularity.

But the Turkish government claims that it is defending the country's interests in a region suffering from instability and in the face of hostile forces.

With the intensification of the economic crisis, Erdogan issued in recent days calm positions directed at Europe, confirming that the future of Turkey is inseparable from the future of the old continent.

But the reality is that Ankara's operations, which are deploying forces in various regions from Libya to Syria, passing through the eastern Mediterranean, anger the West.

If these displays of power are popular in Turkey, they may turn away any potential investors, while Turkey is in dire need of external funds at present.

The head of the Edam Research Center in Istanbul, Sinan Ulgen, explained that Erdogan's foreign policy had led to "a tense relationship between Turkey and its main economic partners: the European Union and the United States."

Threat of sanctions

One of the main disputed issues between Ankara and the European Union is Turkey's unilateral gas exploration operations in disputed areas with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

It seems that the threat of European sanctions may push the Turkish economy into a precipice, and the defeat of US President Donald Trump, with whom Erdogan had a personal relationship, in the presidential elections, convinced the Turkish president to lower his tone in recent weeks.

In addition to showing his adherence to Europe, he promised in early November to carry out judicial reforms to "strengthen the rule of law", in an effort to reassure investors.

However, Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential elections may pose new problems for Ankara, which is subject to US sanctions, after it bought Russian S-400 missile systems.

Also, Greece and Egypt hope Washington will throw their weight in the eastern Mediterranean, to put an end to Turkish activities that did not seem to worry Trump.

Increased risk

Sinam Adar, of the Center for Applied Studies on Turkey in Berlin, explained that after the attempted coup in 2016, Erdogan had the impression that "Western partners have abandoned" Ankara.

She added that the Turkish president felt that "he can no longer trust Europe and the United States to enhance Turkey's security," which prompted him to take his unilateral initiatives.

In recent years, Turkey has spent hundreds of millions of euros to develop its military capabilities, which, in Sinam’s opinion, constituted a factor that enabled his increasing hostility.

This approach, however, had a high price tag.

The Turkish lira has lost about a quarter of its value vis-à-vis the dollar since the beginning of the year, and its deterioration has increased diplomatic tension, especially with France a few months ago.

Direct investment coming from abroad, especially from Europe, which specifically contributes to creating jobs, declined from 16 billion euros in 2007 to seven billion in 2019, according to United Nations figures.

The threat of European sanctions that could push the Turkish economy into an abyss, and the defeat of US President Donald Trump, with whom Erdogan had a personal relationship, in the presidential elections, convinced the Turkish president to lower his tone in recent weeks.

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