Is blocking Turkey’s officials from campaigning in Europe a blessing for Erdogan?

As the Dutch government withdrew Turkey’s FM Mevlut Cavusoglu’s travel permission it seems that EU-Turkey relations are deteriorating further every day. So in you opinion, what’s next, is it possible to continue like this or do expect some dramatic development from one or both sides? Read few comments.

Turkey’s President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit:

Toni Alaranta, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

There are of course elections in many EU countries and the executive presidency referendum in Turkey on 16 April, so the context is fruitful for nationalist action. BUT, we of course know the EU-Turkey relationship in its current form is highly self destructive, been that way for several years now. The Erdogan government has no European vocation and the EU countries have not indicted full membership as a real perspective – the candidacy was an uneasy compromise reached in Helsinki EU Council meeting in 1999, when some member states opposed and others supported Turkey’s candidacy. That road has now reached its dead end. Nothing crucial will happen, however, as there is no alternative defined by anyone in any EU institutions. Also, the refugee deal has deleted all tools on the EU’s side when dealing with Turkey – Erdogan knows this and pushes on with Europe bashing on a daily basis. This mechanism will soon take down Germany’s Merkel as well – she has let herself to become part of this farce.

Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Earlier today, the Dutch government blocked an appearance by a Turkish minister at a pro-Erdogan rally ahead of the Turkish referendum (Dutch PM Rutte is supposedly trying not to be outflanked by anti-Islam populist politician Wilders ahead of the March 15 Dutch elections). Erdogan called the Dutch “Nazis” and a few dozen Islamist Turks appeared at Dutch-German border to greet the blocked Turkish minister. Just what Wilders and Erdogan need. Dutch PM Rutte may have just helped Erdogan help boost Wilders, “Mr. Muslims are coming”, in the Dutch elections on Tuesday. For his own part, Erdogan who is looking for imagined foreign enemies to boost his base in the run up to the April 16 referendum (he has run out of domestic adversaries he can cast as the “enemy of the people”) may have just found what he’s looking for.

I call this “Haters International”. Far-right leaders rather have far right leaders run their enemies so their fear mongering has sturdy legs. I feel like we are in for a bumpy ride, unfortunately. I can add that I see the Dutch-Turkey crisis as a case of Haters International =Islamist Turks & anti-islam European nativists helping each other in respective Dutch/Turkey polls.

Barin Kayaoglu, Assistant Professor of World History, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Writer and Editor for Al-Monitor

It may seem counterintuitive, but European governments’ refusal to grant permission to Turkish politicians with the ruling AKP actually improve President Erdogan’s chances of winning the constitutional referendum. Erdogan portrays the West as his enemy and himself as the protector of Turkey. Currently, however, I’m not sure if that strategy will sway public opinion.



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