Carnegie: Why the EU and the US should rethink their Turkey policies in 2021 – Analysis

Turkey’s eroding democracy and assertive foreign policy loom large on the international stage

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.

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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