Erdoğan’s post-elections direction to determine Turkey’s future - Kathimerini

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan must choose between accepting a painful defeat or shouldering responsibility for an attempt to overturn the local election result as the world looks on to see if he will revise his domestic policies and relations with other countries, wrote Nikos Konstandaras in Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Turkey’s strongman campaigned in the March 31 local elections under the slogan that the outcome was a “question of survival for Turkey,” the article recalled.

However, this did not prevent his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) from losing the country’s largest cities of Ankara and İstanbul to an alliance of opposition parties.

While Erdoğan has since called for a recount in both key cities, in a bid to gain time while he thought of his next moves, there are a number of other pressing issues he must decide on, which will shape his country’s future.

The leading concern for Turkey is jeopardising its NATO membership through Ankara’s determination to buy the Russian S-400 air defence system, a move which has enraged Washington.

Washington opposes the S-400 deal since the Russian system is not compatible with Western-made NATO systems. The United States also fears that if the Turkish military operated both the F-35s and S-400s, it would allow Russia to glean sensitive information about the advanced fighter jets. 

“Now Erdogan must choose between accepting a painful defeat or shouldering responsibility for an attempt to overturn the election result. He must also shape a new economic policy to deal with recession, unemployment and uncertainty – all questions that were voters’ priorities and for which Erdoğan blamed the United States and other hostile forces. He must also choose whether he wants better ties not only with the United States and the European Union but also with Turkey’s neighbours, as good relations are necessary for the country’s economy to grow and its security to be strengthened,’’  Konstandaras wrote.

Highlighting that Erdoğan has always responded to any threat with a head-on confrontation, Konstandaras asked if Turkey’s strongman, after having lost strength at home and before the United States, the EU and Russia, will do the same.