'Foreign conspiracy' in Turkey impacts Western ties

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Article Summary
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent accusations that the corruption probe is a foreign conspiracy could cause a serious crisis in relations between Ankara and the West.

In my previous article, I mentioned that the developments surrounding the Turkish corruption and bribery investigation had begun to affect the country's foreign policy, touching in particular on how the United States and the West were irked by the accusations Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan leveled against foreign ambassadors.

The reactions [to Erdogan’s attitude] have continued, indicating that Turkey now faces fresh problems and challenges in its relations with friends and allies.

On Dec. 23 The New York Times wrote that Turkey’s attitude toward the United States illustrated the “growing mistrust” between the two countries. Recalling the close ties Erdogan and US President Barrack Obama enjoyed until recently, it underlined that the “honeymoon” was now history.

The paper also reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had requested a meeting with US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone after the fraud operation began on Dec. 17, but that the Americans called off the meeting when Erdogan targeted the ambassador with very harsh terms.

Falling from grace

The news coming from Washington indicates that the US administration is making a “re-assessment” of Erdogan. It is unknown whether this would lead to any change in US policy vis-a-vis Ankara. Some analysts go so far as to suggest that Washington could “discard” Erdogan. Even though such a prospect seems unlikely, it’s clear that Erdogan is “falling from grace” or losing his old image of a “favorite buddy.”

What has brought the Americans to this point is the aggressive campaign waged against the US ambassador. The New York Times recalls that no American diplomat has been accorded a similar treatment even in the most critical times in bilateral ties.

Before the crisis grows

Europe, too, is disturbed by the events surrounding the corruption scandal and the [accusations of] foreign conspiracy.

An EU commission spokesman expressed concern over the purge the Erdogan government launched among the police following the fraud operation, and stressed that such moves violated the EU principle of independent and impartial judicial probes, warning that Turkey’s EU membership bid was at risk.

Voices are also being raised from the European parliament. Andrew Duff, the co-chair of the Turkey-EU joint parliamentary commission, was among those who criticized the government.

In sum, the fact that the fraud scandal has been taken to the international scene through speeches at political rallies and media campaigns suggests that the issue could devolve into a serious crisis in relations with the West. To prevent that risk and its potential damage, an efficient “crisis management” is now required to mend and revive the bruised confidence. Otherwise, the crisis will drag Turkey to unwanted directions in its foreign policy and economy.

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Found in: turkish politics, recep tayyip erdogan, foreign policy, corruption, barack obama
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