The Other Putin on Europe’s Doorstep
By weaponizing immigration and launching new foreign adventures, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly acting like his Russian counterpart. And though such behavior speaks to a deteriorating political situation at home, Europeans can no longer assume that Turkey will remain firmly in the Western fold.
BERLIN – Is Turkey the new Russia? That question is increasingly being asked in European capitals as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan adopts a more aggressive foreign policy. In addition to using migration to threaten and finagle the European Union, Erdoğan has also been deploying military power to expand Turkey’s sphere of influence across the wider region.
Since the end of the Cold War, Europeans have viewed regional security through a unipolar Western lens. While NATO guaranteed military security, the EU – with its 80,000-page rulebook for everything from LGBTQ rights to lawnmower sound ordinances – provided legal order. Back in the 1990s, it was widely assumed that the two big non-Western regional players, Russia and Turkey, would gradually be accommodated to this arrangement.
But over the last 15 years, the dream of European unipolarity has given way to a multipolar reality. Both Russia and Turkey have had a long, tortured love-hate relationship with Europe, and both have grown more assertive under national leaders who share a disdain for EU norms and values.