Jul 19 2019

Time for West to re-evaluate partnership with Turkey - Bloomberg

Turkey’s procurement of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia has made it clear that Ankara has abandoned the West, and it is time for the United States and the European Union to act accordingly and impose costs on their erstwhile ally, Bloomberg said in an editorial on Thursday.

The U.S. leadership has made it clear that the purchase of Russian-built systems could compromise NATO defences, and had threatened Turkey with expulsion from the F-35 system and economic sanctions if it went through with the purchase.

Despite the warnings, Ankara began receiving its first shipments of S-400 parts last week. At the same time, it has escalated tensions with its European neighbours by drilling for hydrocarbons in the seas around Cyprus, an action declared “illegal” by the European Union and called a “deliberate provocation” in Bloomberg’s editorial.

With U.S. influence in the Middle East region waning, Erdoğan has chosen to throw his lot in with Russian President Vladimir Putin rather than seeking compromise with his NATO allies on these issues, the editorial said.

“Now he must face the consequences”, it went on. “The EU is already in the process of freezing high-level contacts with Turkey, and has started to cut off its financial aid. Since Ankara has scoffed at such measures, the Europeans should go further and impose sanctions against Turkish companies involved in offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The United States should remain firm in its decision to expel Turkey from the F-35 programme, while also imposing sanctions on the country, Bloomberg said.

These should start on a small scale, leaving room to “ratchet up” the pressure on Turkey later, with sanctions potentially cutting Turkey off from the U.S. financial system.

If those measures fail, Turkey’s Western partners must mull whether the alliance is still practically effective, and seek alternatives for their bases and security partnerships as soon as possible, the editorial said.