It is time for the EU to abandon its old self-image as a referee upholding international rules and become a player in a world where leaders like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are pursuing interests with virtually no fear of rebuke from the bloc, EU political advisor Hans Kribbe wrote on Tuesday.
The EU finds itself in a looming standoff with Russia, China and Turkey, Kribbe wrote in Politico news outlet, calling for the bloc to rise to the occasion to transform into a global player that is not limited to policy instruments, procedures and mechanics.
Erdoğan has become engaged in wars in Syria and Libya. He has also carried out repeated military operations targeting Kurdish forces in Iraq, while pressing territorial claims in the Eastern Mediterranean in disputes with Greece and Cyprus.
Turkey’s strongman “is redrawing the map of the eastern Mediterranean,” Kribbe said, a development which points the EU’s need to take on “a new mindset, strategic reflexes and the ethos.”
Following growing calls from within the 27-nation bloc to take a tougher stance against Ankara over its aggressive actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the EU earlier this month threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey. Greece, which lays claim to the waters, is among countries demanding swifter and harsher measures.
Meanwhile Turkey earlier this week announced that a survey vessel was setting sail to the contested waters, in a move that is likely to cause new tensions in the region.
While it may be acceptable to apply sanctions to dictators like the Belarusian Alexander Lukashenko or contain Erdoğan when he trespasses on EU territory, the analyst wrote, the EU should be equally able to justify striking deals with such leaders.