European unity will make Erdoğan back down, says Brussels source

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will “back down” from his aggressive policies, if European countries show unity, an EU source told Brussels-based independent media network Euractiv on Wednesday.

Turkey’s strongman is testing the limits of his power while employing the tactics of Moscow, according to the source.

“Last Friday (20 November) a meeting with Erdogan’s adviser Ibrahim Kalin took place, on Saturday Erdoğan said Turkey belongs to Europe and at the same time he issued a new NAVTEX in the Eastern Mediterranean and then the incident with IRINI operation occurred. It seems that Erdogan is kidding, testing waters or wants a total confrontation,” the source said, referring to the navigational information system used to announce Turkey’s exploratory search for Mediterranean hydrocarbons, and to the recent searching of a Libya-bound Turkish vessel by a German frigate.

“Europe now understands that Erdoğan is using Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tactics. With his moves, he tests Europe’s reaction, and accordingly, sees how far he can go,” they added.

EU leaders are scheduled to meet at a summit on Dec. 10-11, which will deal with a huge list of growing concerns facing the bloc, including a huge coronavirus recovery budget and Brexit, as well as the eastern Mediterranean tensions with Turkey.

Erdoğan’s recent statement that Turkey came following the suggestion of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that Turkey faced the possibility of sanctions in response to “provocations” by Turkey.

However, a number of EU states including Germany, Italy, Spain and Hungary have all previously stated their preference for dialogue with Turkey over sanctions. Euractiv noted that “Bulgaria reportedly took no position, but its Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is largely seen as Erdoğan’s man in the EU.”