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Can Erdogan mend fences with US, Europe while saving face?

Turkey is seeking to improve relations with the West to stave off further damage to its ailing economy, but wants to do so without appearing to concede any ground or make concessions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the plenary session at the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina  December 1, 2018.  G20 Argentina/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC1B008D34E0

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying not to show it, but the growing political and economic cost of Turkey's frayed relations with the West concerns him to the extent of his signaling a desire to mend fences with the United States and Europe. The measures he proposes to achieve this, however, have not convinced his Western partners. They remain focused on results, not on offers and vague promises designed to buy time as they see it.

At the same time, Erdogan remains determined to hold his ground by refusing to back down on the crucial issue of Turkey purchasing Russian S-400 anti-missile defense systems, which has turned into a litmus test for the future of US-Turkish relations. For Erdogan, the issue is also one of political prestige, as he is loath to give the impression of bowing to US pressure on any matter. He knows how his political rivals would use it against him.

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