It has been common, in the past few years and especially the past few weeks, to say that Turkey’s relationship with the West, in particular with Europe, had become increasingly protracted. This may now be an understatement and ‘labyrinthine’ may be a better description.
Ankara’s choices on governance, economic policy, military operations abroad, missile defence, or most recently maritime boundaries have puzzled many of the country’s traditional partners. Even more than substance, it’s the methods and the words used by the leadership that have left most Western political leaders befuddled. Conversely, in reaction to Ankara’s latest initiatives in the Eastern Mediterranean, EU member states and the European Union itself have strongly opposed Turkey’s course of action.
Inevitably, trying to understand Turkey’s current policies is highly risky for a foreign observer. But, international relations being as much about perceptions as they are about substance, it is important to distinguish one from the other, especially in a situation where a Western ally turns aggressively against its partners.
This article is not academic in nature, but is rather an attempt to shed some light, from a Western standpoint, on where stakeholders collectively stand and where they might go from here.