Turkey has moved a long way from being an essential pillar of NATO during the Cold War, a reliable member of the Council of Europe, and a promising EU candidate country to adopting the posture of a disruptive partner for the West. Disputes with European countries and the United States have recently mushroomed, while Turkey’s rule-of-law architecture has been steadily dismantled and its economy is suffering from incongruous policies and years of cronyism.
The year 2020 marked a watershed for Turkey’s relations with its traditional Western partners. The country’s foreign policy became heavily militarized in an attempt to affirm Ankara’s power in its near abroad and fuel a fiercely nationalist narrative.
Turkey’s deliberate disruption has major consequences for its relationships with its Western allies and NATO. In response, the new U.S. administration and the EU should take a series of steps in early 2021 to protect their interests and those of the North Atlantic alliance while offering to maintain close relations with Turkey.
Turkey’s contemporary history is one of deep engagement with Europe and the West. The country’s Western orientation has long been a guiding principle in Ankara’s international posture—from its participation in the 1950–1953 Korean War to its accessions to the Council of Europe in 1950 and NATO in 1952; from its 1963 association agreement with the European Economic Community to the 1995 EU-Turkey Customs Union; and from its elimination of the death penalty in the early 2000s to the agreement to open EU accession negotiations in 2004.
Read more: Carnegie Europe