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All eyes on Ankara

29 Mar 2022 - 14:42
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A scenario exercise focused on the 2023 elections

Over the years, foreign policy has become a source of tension in the European Union’s relationship with Turkey. Although the EU has repeatedly disapproved of Ankara’s (military) interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the South Caucasus, it has so far not been able to counterbalance Ankara’s actions. In that light, Turkey’s 2023 elections serve as a crucial moment. Seen through the lens of two theoretical scenarios – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the People’s Alliance win the elections, versus Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance win the elections – this policy brief provides an insight into the instruments the EU has at its disposal to influence and/or respond to Ankara’s potential future foreign policy. It shows that while neither scenario will be hassle-free, the EU has most room to manoeuvre and can make best use of its instruments, ranging from diplomatic engagement to military cooperation, in a situation where Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance win the elections in 2023.

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Nienke van Heukelingen, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute