Escalate/De-escalate: How to Revive U.S. and European Relations with Turkey
- Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, Director, Ankara Office, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Kadri Tastan, TOBB Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Ian Lesser, Vice President, The German Marshal Fund of the United States
- Guven Sak, Managing and Area Studies Program Director, Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV)
- Alina Inayeh, Director, Black Sea Trust, German Marshall Fund
- Jonathan D. Katz, Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Recent relations between the United States, Europe, and Turkey have been tenuous at best. Between the sanctions recently imposed on two Turkish ministers by the United States and the doubling of tariffs following the imprisonment of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, Turkey is suffering from financial turmoil. President Erdoğan has not been held responsible for the economic downturn, instead his popularity has increased as the United States and President Trump are being blamed for the lira’s devaluation. Erdoğan and Trump shook hands backstage at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25 in New York.
Upcoming plans for Turkey to conduct joint patrols with U.S. forces in Manbij, a strategic town in northern Syria, demonstrate Turkey’s attempt to balance its relations with the United States and Russia, while pursuing its goal of removing U.S.-supported Kurdish forces from its border. Turkey’s responses to the security challenges caused by U.S. efforts in Syria have not helped ease tensions. The possibility of an increase in ultranationalism promoted by Erdoğan leaves the future of U.S.–Turkey relations looking grim.
Turkey’s relations with Europe have also been difficult. That relationship may be undergoing what some are calling a reset. Erdoğan visited Germany last week and showed his desire to strengthen economic relations as Turkey’s economy flags. Like the United States, Germany is demanding the release of imprisoned nationals, five of whom Berlin believes are being held for political reasons. Berlin and Brussels have been critical of democratic backsliding in Turkey. How will President Erdoğan's overtures be met by skeptical European officials in Berlin and Brussels?
The discussion will assess the state of EU–Turkey relations and U.S.–Turkey relations. This includes the blame Washington is receiving for Ankara’s inability to maintain economic stability and the potential for de-escalation or concessions from either side. Is this an opportunity for Europe and Turkey to mend relations and find a new modus vivendi?
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