Erdoğan shifting Turkey away from EU, says ex-ally Davutoğlu

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pulling his country away from Europe while changing the nature of politics in the country with the presidential system, former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday.

The opposition Future Party leader told Greek newspaper Kathimerini that Erdoğan changed the country’s system of governance, despite warnings, in a move that has altered politics in Turkey.

“The current approach is pulling Turkey away from the European model of democracy and administration,’’ the former prime minister said.

Turkey’s executive presidential system, which was ushered in with the June 2018 elections, has come under criticism for eliminating the prime minister's post while transferring executive powers to the president, who rules with only limited checks and balances. 

However, Erdoğan touts the system as facilitating a smoother running of government and has dismissed calls by the opposition for returning to the previous system.

The system has impacted foreign policy, Davutoğlu said, stressing that personal contacts have taken precedence over long-term strategies.

“If Erdogan’s relations with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin are good, then relations with Russia are also good. It was the same with [ex-US president Donald] Trump,” the Future Party leader said.

Davutoğlu was the prime minister and chairman of the ruling AKP from 2014 to 2016, when he had a falling out with Erdoğan, forcing him out of the seat. He resigned from the party in Sept. 2019 before staring the AKP rival Future Party in Decemberof the same year.

Speaking on the  Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey and Greece are locked in a dispute over hydrocarbon resources, Davutoğlu echoed Ankara’s stance on the matter.

“Turkey has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean. Whoever thinks that via Kastellorizo and Cyprus they can lock Turkey in the gulf of Antalya, must know that Turkey will react strongly,” he said.

Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims of sovereignty over waters in the region. Ankara disputes Athen’s claims, insisting that small Greek islands near the Turkish coast should not be taken into account when delineating maritime boundaries.