Robert Harneis -TDO- Paris and Berlin have let it be known that they oppose the holding of the 2018 NATO conference in Istanbul. The information was leaked to the German newspaper Die Welt who reported that an unnamed diplomat had said that ‘we do not wish to reinforce Turkish influence on the international scene and at the same time we want to avoid giving the impression that NATO supports the internal policy of the Turkish government’.
The move is allegedly supported by 18 EU members of NATO and Canada out of 28 members in total. There is no way of knowing whether it is actually the case that all the EU members of NATO, however small, have been fully consulted in the time available and indicated their support. However, it seems clear that Holland and Denmark clearly support the French and Germans.
Brussels has been suggested as a suitable alternative meeting place.
In recent months relations between Turkey and the EU countries, notably Germany during an election period, have deteriorated particularly since the referendum granting President Tayyip Erdogan increased powers.
An additional source of tension has been the accession of Turkey into the EU. A subject that has been the subject of debate since the 1960s without ever getting anywhere nearer to resolution.
On May 24 President Erdogan exhorted the EU to make up its mind on the subject saying that Turkey could not be treated like a ‘beggar’ at the gates of Europe.
Turkey is a vital member on NATO’s eastern flank, controlling as it does the entrance to the Black Sea. However, the prevailing patronizing EU attitude to Turkey, this new insult from within NATO added to the United States support of Kurdish fighters in Syria are all pushing President Erdogan to consider his options, notably a closer relationship with Russia and behind Russia China. It seems unlikely at this stage that the Turkish government will go so far as to break with NATO but it is day by day becoming a less and less enthusiastic member.
The Western governments in turn are going to have to make up their minds whether they view Turkey as a full ally or some sort of semi dependent state.