palacio150_JOHN THYSAFP via Getty Images_erdogan eu JOHN THYSAFP via Getty Images

The EU and Turkey Need Each Other

Earlier this year, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan condemned the European Union’s “strategic blindness,” declaring that it cannot truly be a “global actor” without Turkey. While such comments do little to improve the bilateral relationship, they contain more than a grain of truth.

MADRID – Even before Hamas’s barbaric attack on Israel catapulted the Middle East back to the forefront of global geopolitics, the European Union recognized the critical importance of Turkey as a bridgehead to the region. Yet the EU’s policy of engagement with Turkey has long been mostly on life support.

Europe’s extended neighborhood seems to be entering a new era of chaos. A growing number of actors are willing to take major risks with little regard for potential consequences. With existing frameworks for engagement becoming increasingly obsolete, creative mediation and imaginative diplomacy are essential.

But whether Europe is up to the task is far from clear. The list of geopolitical challenges that the EU should be addressing is as long as it is neglected. The EU’s relative passivity amid coups in Africa, volatility in the Mediterranean, and violent flare-ups between Kosovo and Serbia in the Balkans – to name a few examples – is undermining the Union’s credibility as a relevant geopolitical actor. Even with regard to the war on its doorstep in Ukraine, the EU often appears to be more bystander than powerbroker.