Skip to content

Erdogan’s rival, Kemal Kildaroglu, has promised to reset ties. He may have failed but it would have been a refreshing direction for the Allies to travel.

as if Dominic Wagren, International Affairs Editor @DominicWaghorn

Saturday 27 May 2023 01:15, UK

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be Vladimir Putin’s favorite in this election.

A hard truth to swallow for NATO allies who have been privately hoping for change.

Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, his economic misogyny, and his intransigence in NATO have raised concerns among his allies.

His defeat was a sign of things to come, the humiliation of a populist strongman, likely to be followed by others.

Those hopes are gone.

His position seems to be getting stronger Before the second round of these electionsThere will certainly be despair in the West.

Mr. Erdogan’s rival, Kemal Kilidaroglu, is little known outside Turkey, but he has provided Western policymakers with a tone of discord and frustration with Mr. Erdogan.

More about Recep Tayyip Erdogan

He is an accountant and bureaucrat known as a clean politician and secularist who wants to restore Turkey’s relations with the West and build trust with its NATO allies. What is there not to like in the chancelleries of Europe and Washington?

Meet Erdogan’s election opponent

Compare with Mr. Erdogan.

The man who started advocating for his country’s EU membership is taking Turkey in a different and unknown direction.

Read more:
Why is the president of Turkey now popular in the election?
Erdogan wants to expel his supporters
A person who wants to end the era of Erdogan

There is the abuse it has done to the economy.

In his boom days and contrary to all economic orthodoxy, Mr. Erdogan does not believe that raising interest rates will reduce inflation. Combine that with deep-rooted corruption and mismanagement, and Turkey’s economy is on a path to ruin with inflation over 80%.

Economic collapse can be a source of political instability. They are not wanted in a NATO country and they are just as important as Turkey at the door of Europe. He threatens to bring nothing but misery to the people of Turkey.

Mr. Erdogan is the Kremlin’s choice, the devil Putin finds knowingly useful even if their relationship is purely transactional.

They discussed their special relationship with Putin and the common interests of the two countries. He refused to join Western sanctions against Russia. He bought Russian anti-aircraft defense systems, which caused conflict with NATO.

Turkey’s ambivalence in this conflict benefits the West. Ankara played an important role in brokering an agreement to transport Ukrainian grain. And it could play a role in the negotiations to end the war when it finally does.

Turkey supplies drones to Kiev but continues to block Sweden from joining NATO and has played none of the supporting roles the alliance had hoped for.

For Western governments, Turkey is exploiting the conflict for economic gain, rapidly buying up Russian power and profiting from trade.

This is a limited version of the story so unfortunately this content is no longer available.

Open the full version

Then there’s democratic backsliding, Turkey’s increasingly troubling human rights record and growing authoritarianism, all of which are creating even more turmoil in Western capitals.

Mr. Kilidaroglu promised that change would come from all of this. Reset in connections. He may have failed in the end but for the allies the direction of his journey was refreshing.

Mr. Erdogan offers the opposite. A willful and unpredictable partner with an increasingly dangerous looking economy. His Western colleagues were happy to call it the era of Erdogan. Instead, they may have to stomach the tenure for years.