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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Erdogan's priorities

Suddenly forced to expend political capital on the home front, Turkish Prime Minister and Obama Best Friend Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going to be forced to choose from among his foreign policy priorities, because he just can't do everything. So far, it looks like he is going to continue to pursue a trip to Gaza, but he will ignore Syria and the Europeans have signaled their unhappiness with him.
Erdogan’s efforts to quash the protests and have his supporters hold rallies across the country could mean, contrary to what some analysts are saying, that he may double down not only at home, but also abroad.
Some of the first foreign policy consequences of the government’s crackdown were felt on Tuesday, when the EU postponed a round of membership talks with Ankara to October. The Istanbul-based Hurriyet Daily News attributed the delay to Europe’s disapproval of the clampdown. Though Turkish admission to the EU has long come up against resistance among some member states, the current protests have bolstered these voices.
The report by the BBC on Monday that Turkey is intimidating its journalists will not improve matters.
Well, yeah, but that is one sentence in a Hurriyet article that otherwise bubbles with optimism about Turkey's chances of being admitted to the EU.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu praised the decision and said there would be no delay under any circumstances. “We agreed with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on a text that declared the opening of Chapter 22 on regional policies,” Davutoğlu told reporters, adding that further procedures and technical meetings would be announced in the coming days.
“I hope that there will no longer be a short-term crisis. When you read the text, the first sentence says that they opened a new chapter,” he said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also welcomed the decision and said the step was positive but insufficient for Turkey-EU relations, which have been strained recently.

The top diplomat had conducted intense telephone diplomacy before the decision of the ministers. He held phone conversations with his German, Swedish and Dutch counterparts as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner Stefan Füle.

Füle and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt welcomed the agreement. Bildt said the decision was important for the EU. “[It is] important that the EU now takes the key decision to open Chapter 22 in Turkey accession talks. Exact timing was never key issue in this regard,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Turkey is likely to back off on Syria, but it is apparently going to continue to push the envelope in Gaza.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that despite having to postpone a visit to Gaza planned for June due to the Gezi Park protests, which have shaken the country for more than three weeks, he intends to make the visit soon. 
“These [Gezi] events unfortunately led to this postponement. Gaza is ready, but we could not be ready because of these events. We could make a surprise at any moment,” the prime minister told after a group meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Parliament on Tuesday.
Erdoğan earlier made several statements about visiting Gaza but the date was repeatedly delayed due to various factors. The US has publicly urged the prime minister to cancel the visit but Erdoğan has said he will go ahead with it. Erdoğan enjoys high popularity in Gaza because of the messages of solidarity with Gazans he has given on many occasions and his rhetoric against Israel, which imposes air, land and naval embargoes on the Palestinian strip.
What's clear is that Erdogan is going to have to spend a lot more time taking care of his home front, and that means he will have less time to meddle in other countries' affairs. And that's a good thing.

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At 2:01 AM, Blogger Herb Glatter said...

My Pop's saying is apropos:

People plan, G-d laughs.


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