News / Europe

Turkey Flexes Muscles Before NATO Summit

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL - A last-minute deal has cleared away a dispute over the attendance of senior European Union officials at the NATO summit opening in Chicago Sunday.  Analysts saw the dispute as an example of Turkey flexing its growing diplomatic muscle within the military alliance.

With only days to go before the NATO summit, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the head of European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, finally received an official invitation to attend.

The delay was a result of objections by Turkey over what Ankara perceives as a lack of equal treatment between NATO and EU officials.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal explains.

"Many countries have questions and wonder why two EU chiefs are invited, while the NATO secretary-general is not invited," said Unal. "Second, why are other international and regional organizations who also deal with NATO not invited or thought to be invited?"

According to Turkish spokesman Unal, the impasse was resolved after it was agreed that the EU leaders will attend the opening ceremony but will be restricted to only certain sessions of the summit, including those related to Afghanistan.

Turkey's stalled EU membership bid is seen as the underlying factor for Ankara playing diplomatic hardball before the summit, says former senior Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen.

"It is an indication of how much frustration, disillusionment and even now antagonism has been built over Turkey's accession process, and this is leading to this type of negative environment, where Turkey is trying to leverage with its own relationship with NATO, to put pressure on the EU. In many ways, we are definitely seeing a much more assertive and robust Turkish foreign policy," said Ulgen.

Political observers say the confidence of Ankara to stand up to the EU comes from Turkey's growing regional importance. Turkey borders Syria, Iran and Iraq. And with its charismatic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan - whose influence and popularity extends across the Arab Spring countries - Ankara has become an increasingly important ally to the United States.

Cengiz Aktar, an international relations expert at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, says Washington's support gives Ankara an important strategic advantage.
 
"Turkey has a sort [of] comparative advantage over other countries in the Middle East, the Mediterranean and even Europe," said Aktar. "The government is using and abusing this situation to the bitter end to push its own agenda."

A report this month by the influential U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations said the growing importance of Turkey is resulting in Washington cultivating stronger ties.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Unal denies Ankara is following a more assertive policy.

"Countries like Turkey in NATO who are not EU members, but who are NATO members, they have to defend their legitimate rights and interests stemming from NATO membership," he said.

With Turkey increasingly playing an active role in NATO from Kosovo to Afghanistan, political observers warn the potential remains for tensions between Ankara and Brussels to be played out within the Atlantic alliance.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid