Turkey: angry with the West, courts Russian oil
Erdoğan on Tuesday (2 August) has accused the EU of not having disbursed the financial aid it had promised, or delivering visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens traveling to Europe.
“We are the ones who are protecting the European Union by sheltering three million Syrians and Iraqis,” he said. “You cannot demand the refugee return agreement without fulfilling your obligations. Sorry, but we are not a country that you can boss about,” he added.
Harsh words from Germany:
"In keinem Fall darf sich Deutschland oder Europa erpressen lassen", sagt SPD-Chef Sigmar Gabriel. Und im Hausmeistertonfall schimpft CSU-Generalsekretär Andreas Scheuer: "Wir sind nicht auf dem türkischen Basar." Drohungen und Ultimaten seien der "neue Stil der Erdogan-Türkei".
Politics aside, does Erdoğan have a point? Is the EU not living up to its end of the migration deal? At least with regards to visum liberalization, it seems the matter is somewhat complex:
Die Wahrheit ist aber: Die EU hat diese Kriterien nicht nachträglich aufgetischt, im Gegenteil. Bereits im Dezember 2013, lange vor Beginn der Massenflucht über die Ägäis, hatten sich beide Seiten auf eine "Roadmap" verständigt. Darin wurden die Kriterien festgelegt, die die Türkei erfüllen muss, bevor die Visumpflicht aufgehoben werden kann. Das reicht von technischen Dingen wie der Einführung biometrischer Reisepässe bis zu politischen Fragen wie der Terrorgesetzgebung. Summa summarum 72 Kriterien.
Turkey is not just frustrated with the EU over the migration deal. It is also frustrated with Washington for not extraditing Fethullah Gülen.
At an event for foreign investors in Ankara, the Turkish President stressed that the “west is supporting terrorism and taking sides with coups”.
He accused the United States of refusing to satisfy the Turkish authorities’ demands for an immediate extradition of preacher Fethullah Gülen, considered by Ankara as the mastermind behind the coup.
Conciliatory notes from Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland:
“I would like to say there has been too little understanding from Europe over what challenges this has caused to the democratic and state institutions of Turkey,” CoE Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse, referring to a group of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s supporters in the military who are accused of conducting the failed coup.
Serkan Demirtaş considers that Turkey's combative stance towards the West is related to Erdoğan's visit to Moscow next week. Relations between Turkey and Russia have been improving since Erdoğan apologized for downing a Russian jet.
In a statement to international investors, Erdoğan accused the West of supporting terrorists and standing by the coup plotters, naming Germany, Belgium and France, three main countries of the European Union. Echoing Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and other senior Turkish leaders are also very outspoken when it comes to slam European countries on the similar points.
This harsh rhetoric against all of the West should not be thought of separately from Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Russia next week. Again in his statement to investors, Erdoğan said Turkey and Russia were planning to announce a very substantial action plan to strengthen their bilateral economic and trade relationship to make them even better than before Nov. 24, 2015, the day Turkey shot down a Russian warplane. Although Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said Turkey’s normalization with Russia does not represent an alternative to its ties with NATO and the EU, there are those in Ankara that consider it otherwise.
Erdoğan's visit to Moscow (on August 9) will undoubtedly touch on the TurkStream gas pipeline project. The pipeline will allow Russia to deliver gas through Turkey, bypassing Ukraine:
EU officials fear that TurkStream will be expanded to bypass Ukraine as a transit route for supplies to Europe, increasing dependence on Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) and shutting in alternative supplies from the Caspian region. "Turkey's new friendship with Russia might become an issue if Russia tries to replace Turkey for Ukraine," a senior EU official said. "It makes sense for Turkey to get cheap gas from Russia, but it will come with strings attached: That is likely to be a problem for us."
For now, Russia is planning construction of two out of an initial four projected pipelines. Capacity of one line is around 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas per year. That would mean retaining gas flows via Ukraine - albeit reduced - after Moscow's transit contract with Kiev expires in 2019. Ukraine plans to ship around 72 bcm of Russian gas in 2016 - more than 40 percent of Russia's gas supplies to Europe. Part of the line would lay along the same route as Russia's canceled South Stream pipeline, which ran up against EU opposition on competition grounds in late 2014.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday Turkey will "play a large role as a transit country" to supply Europe - the very prospect which worries EU officials.
Brussels is instead promoting a chain of pipelines known as the Southern Gas Corridor to transport gas from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan to European markets by 2020.