Hürriyet Daily News, Marc Pierini, June 30, 2014: “Can Turkey become a trusted strategic EU ally?”
Whoever will be president of the Republic of Turkey in two months’ time will have the difficult task in rebuilding trust with EU leaders. The challenge is linked to both Turkey’s foreign policy and to its domestic situation.
During the past few years, Turkey’s foreign policy has been a subject of perplexity for European leaders. While the country is solidly anchored to NATO (and hence benefits from Patriot missiles’ protection on its southern border), it has tended to play outside NATO’s policies in several ways. For example, Turkey has touted the purchase of a Chinese missile defense system totally incompatible with NATO standards and procedures. And it has long left an open door to jihadists going back and forth on the Syrian-Turkish border, to the point that journalists have dubbed the Istanbul-Hatay and Istanbul-Gaziantep flights “the jihad Express.” Rumors of arms deliveries to Syrian fighters and of harboring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader al-Baghdadi in Turkey at one point have added to the misgivings of the West.