Allowing relations to standstill and decline further is in no one's interest
Amanda Paul, Demir Murat Seyrek
Getting EU leaders to agree on a strategy for Turkey is like herding cats. While all member states are alarmed over the backsliding on democracy and the rule of law in the country, a common response is missing. When weighing up the various options, it is important that the EU understands that a change in approach from Turkey’s leadership ahead of the numerous elections in 2019 (local, presidential and parliamentary) is unlikely. Foreign policy choices will continue to be dictated by domestic political imperatives. Staying in power is the number one priority for President Erdogan. Hence Ankara’s frequent jingoistic anti-EU rhetoric is likely to continue. Representatives of the EU and its member states should not allow themselves to be caught in a perpetual war of words with Ankara, which unfortunately is currently the case. Rather, while maintaining a principled stance on civil liberties and freedoms, the EU should first look for avenues for constructive engagement that could help reduce tensions.