Turkey’s one regional key player in the Mideast, EU

During the mid-2000s, Turkey was introduced with Poland or Indonesia as one of the countries which would likely play a prominent role in political and economic affairs and become a regional leader within a decade. From a political standpoint, Turkey has indeed somehow benefited from endless conflicts in the Middle East and from the resulting huge immigration influx towards Europe. Turkey’s relations with the European Union (EU) have improved lately on the occasion of an agreement about “migrants” and obtained the opening of several chapters in view of its future adhesion to the EU which by the way most of the Turkish people reject.

Turkey’s foreign policy has gained much influence however its general posture has grown less understandable as Ankara sought to achieve quite contradictory goals between its lack of pressure on jihadists near its borders and its membership to NATO. Although a large majority of the Europeans considered that Turkey doesn’t belong to Europe, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has never seemed so powerful when interacting with the European Commission (EC) and has been constantly at the initiative in his shaky bilateral relations with leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

From an economic viewpoint, the picture appeared a bit less rosy. A member of the G20 and the 18th world’s largest economy with a USD 800 billion GDP in 2014, Turkey’s exports jumped from USD 36 billion to USD 144 billion over the last twelve years but the Turkish economic growth has decreased from an average 5.4% in 2010-2014 to a forecast average 3.6% for 2016-2017. Summing up, Turkey has become a regional leader and thus a key player on almost everything about the Middle East, a trend embodied by Ankara’s growing relationship with Arab monarchies and the hosting in Istanbul of the 13th OIC summit. As the main gateway towards the EU, Turkey gained unprecedented clout in Brussels and made the most of constant US support. Without being a member of the EU, Turkey has grown more powerful within the EU than a number of its member countries.