For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe, EU foreign ministers gathered in Brussels for face-to-face talks. They had plenty of criticism for leaders in China and Venezuela but most of their indignation was reserved for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The ministers agreed to draw up possible sanctions against Ankara.
Brussels is irritated with Turkey over its efforts to find gas in disputed Mediterranean waters. This is annoying EU members Cyprus and Greece in particular.
Furthermore, the bloc is unhappy with Turkey’s involvement in Libya and Syria, not to mention recent, alleged, aggressive Turkish behavior toward a French navy vessel in the Mediterranean. Both Turkey and France are members of NATO.
Most recently, the EU is taking a tough stance over Turkey’s decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a museum to a mosque. On all these issues, Erdogan insists he is protecting Turkey’s interests and the EU should mind its own business. As relations with the EU worsen, experts suggest Turkey should be seeking to reinforce partnerships closer to home.
Not long ago, Turkey was edging closer to EU membership. Experts say the bloc has a lot to lose by antagonizing Ankara too much. They point out that if Turkey allows refugees to freely enter the EU, the political consequences for the 27-country bloc would be enormous.