The Turkish relationship with the EU will continue to be a rocky road of difficult negotiations. Chancellor Merkel affirmed that the process will continue, and she plans to visit Turkey early next year to presumably repeat that message. Erdogan knows his connection with Berlin is vital if that negotiation process has any outlook for success.
While the EU struggles with its future, Turkey, personified by Erdoğan, appears to be rethinking its options. For now, Turkey is saying that it wants to claim what it sees as its rightful seat at the European table. How long that claim will stay in place or how wide the EU door stays open will be determined by developments both in the European Union and within and around Turkey in the next few years.
As it has for centuries, Turkey will see itself as a key player with its own range of options in a region which is being transformed dramatically in every direction. Will it want or need EU membership? And will the EU want or need Turkey as a member? Privileged or not, what will partnerships mean in the future? Turkey has some important cards to play in answering those questions. Depending on how things play out in Syria, a post Assad government could be a closer Turkish ally, leaving Iran without anyone in the region interested in partnership with Teheran. If Turkey treads carefully, relations with the Arab states to its south could be developed further. Turkish interest in the Balkans remains serious as well.
Like Germany, Turkey cannot afford to ignore its history as it plots its future path. How that path will connect with Europe − and the other way around − remains uncertain. But what is not uncertain is that they will connect in an ongoing tradition going back centuries.
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