Trump Approaches Turkey With Realism Whilst The EU’s Turkey Policies Have Descended Into Madness

When asked about the ongoing issues surrounding Washington’s approach to Turkey’s taking delivery of Russian made S-400 missile defence systems, Trump once again pinned the blame on Barack Obama whose administration dragged its feet when Turkey sought to purchase modern US made missile defence systems.

Trump further reiterated that he has a good relationship with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and remarked on the fact that owing to their strong relationship, US national Andrew Brunson was released from a Turkish prison after being convicted of having links to dangerous terror groups operating in Turkey.

The US President also indicated that because he seeks to support the US workers who build F-35 fighter jets, he will see what can be done to end the impasse that has arisen over the fact that Washington has put a stop to the delivery of F-35s to Turkey in the aftermath of Ankara receiving the S-400s.

Although Trump’s statements do not solve the specific issues that have hounded the erstwhile healthy Turkey-US alliance, his words nevertheless have injected calm into the situation and have left open the possibility for some sort of win-win settlement in the near future. Beyond this, by pinning the blame on actions taken by Barack Obama, Trump is making a very specific appeal to patriotic Turks who have little other than bad memories of Obama’s tenure in the White House.

But whilst Trump has approached Turkey in a rational way whilst suggesting that he continues to have a good relationship with Erdoğan, the EU has taken the opposite approach.

Currently, the eastern Mediterranean is home to an ever intensifying struggle for maritime gas exploration and exploitation rights that has pitted  Ankara on the one side against the solidifying alliance between Tel Aviv, Cairo, Nicosia and Athens. Whilst the EU ought to position itself as a mediator in this dispute, the EU has instead taken an extremist position and has issued an hysterical sounding condemnation against Turkey for its gas exploration activities off the Cypriot coast. The EU has also suspend high-level talks with Turkey and cut off some lines of finance associated with Turkey’s long stalled ascension talks.

The fact that Turkey has stated categorically that it will not cease its gas exploration activities should not come as a surprise to anyone anyone. Turkey’s position on the even more “controversial” S-400 deal ought to make that clear.

The question therefore is: why has the EU boxed itself into a corner rather than take an approach that might actually solve an issue that some EU members have with Turkey? The answer lies in the fact that the EU’s bureaucracy remains as inflexible as it is impractical. As such, the EU is happy to provoke situations and transform mild conflicts into major conflicts by inflicting punitive measures against both current and potential future partners. But this does not do anything for anyone. The bottom line is that the EU’s economic record shows that it cares nothing for the welfare of Greek Cypriots whilst its current move will only exacerbate rather than cool long standing Turko-Hellenic disputes in the region.

Perhaps the EU’s lack of common sense and originality comes from the fact that there are no individuals of note within the bloated EU bureaucracy. Whilst Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are both larger than life figures at home and abroad, the new face of the EU is someone called Ursula von der Leyen. The former German Defence Minister is widely considered to be a total failure at home and is largely unknown throughout the rest of the EU. Now however, she has one of the highest paid political positions in the world. This is symptomatic of an EU that is far better at causing problems and exacerbating problems than it is at solving problems.

Turkey continues to seek pragmatic economically driven ties with its EU partners. But until the EU learns that Turkey must be dealt with in a respectful and common sense driven manner, things will begin to stagnate and this will not be good for any of the parties to the “gas war” in the eastern Mediterranean

By contrast, Donald Trump has left the door open to future deal making opportunities with Ankara which itself demonstrates a kind of maturity that is sadly lacking in Brussels. Thus, whilst Trump has worked to inject pragmatism into Turkey-US relations, the EU has descended into self-defeating madness.

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