Eurodefense Network

Eurodefense Network

Turkey and the EU: A difficult but critical relationship

On April 7, 2021, the European Union and Turkey held a meeting in Ankara at the highest level. The Turkish side was headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the EU by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. At the end of the meeting at the Presidential Palace, the leaders moved to a living room where Erdoğan and Michel sat in two chairs flanked by the Turkish and EU flags, while Von der Leyen was left standing. After some hesitation, she sat on a side sofa, just like the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu, who took seat on a sofa on the opposite side. According to the chief of Protocol of Mr. Michel, Dominique Marro, it was thanks to Michel’s intervention that Von der Leyen was not seated on a side chair during the luncheon and was not excluded from the official photo of the meeting.

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Below the Surface

Russia and China are currently the most visible actors in the Arctic. Russia is the Arctic state with the most resources and a transit route but faces major domestic and regional challenges. On the other hand, China positions itself as a “near-Arctic state” with rights anchored not in international law but in a comprehensive national strategy that combines the economy, administration, para-military and military means in an impressive manner. The recent threat assessments of both the United States and NATO have paved the way for closer cooperation between the two countries in general and in the Arctic region in particular.

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