Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now Turkey’s first directly elected president. Constitutionally, he is not the chief executive of the country — Ahmet Davutoglu, the new prime minister, is. Yet, it is no secret that Erdogan plans to run Turkey from the presidential palace. This is Turkey’s problem to solve.
The United States and the Europeans have a different problem: Whom do they talk to when they have to engage Turkish leaders on matters of critical importance and joint decisions have to be taken? Erdogan, through his sheer personality and control of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) — which he created, and rules Turkey — will want to be US President Barack Obama’s interlocutor, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. Do these leaders take Erdogan’s phone call when they need to discuss Syria or Iraq, or any other issue of common interest? This is going to be a tough call.