Spotlight: Fear of repercussions drawing EU closer toward Turkey

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-31 20:56:14|Editor: xuxin
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ISTANBUL, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) countries' caring attitude toward Turkey as the country is trying to fight off an economic crisis has much to do with Europe's own interests, analysts said.


"The main reason behind the EU's backing is that a major portion of Turkey's loans have been provided by various European banks," said Faruk Sen, an analyst on Turkish-EU relations.

"The EU countries would be affected by an economic crisis in Turkey in a serious way," he added.

Amid rising tension with the United States over the detention of a U.S. pastor on charges of terrorism in western Turkey, the Turkish lira has tumbled to a new record low against the U.S. dollar since the end of July.

Turkey's debt-stricken economy needs foreign loans as much as around 240 billion dollars in the next 12 months and a yearly current account deficit of nearly 60 billion dollars.

For Turkey, the EU is both a leading trade partner and a major foreign investor. Nearly 70 percent of the almost 22,000 foreign businesses in Turkey are from EU countries.

In case of an economic crisis, Turkish banks would have difficulty in paying off the huge loans they got from European banks, said Can Baydarol, an analyst on Turkish-EU ties.

Leading credit rating agencies such as Moody's and Fitch warned in midweek that the lira's sharp fall raised risks for refinancing loans.

The EU is concerned about a possible failure of the Turkish economy also because Turkey is a major export market for the bloc.

The union's exports to Turkey last year amounted to almost 85 billion euros (98.99 billion dollars).

If Turkey's economic crisis deepens, it would lead to a sharp fall in importation of consumption goods from the EU, said Sen, the president of the Istanbul-based Turkish European Foundation for Education and Scientific Studies.


As Ankara blames Washington for launching an economic war against its NATO ally, Germany and France, two EU heavyweights, have expressed support for Turkey.

It is in Europe's interest that the Turkish economy grows in a steady way, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at the beginning of this week.

In his address to German diplomats and business people, Maas criticized the United States for abruptly imposing economic sanctions on some of EU's important trade partners.

He urged EU countries to response against the U.S. sanctions as European companies are also being adversely affected.

Noting the Turkish and EU economies are intricately connected, Baydarol said that it is for this reason that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a U-turn in her attitude toward Ankara.

"Turkey-EU ties are on their way to normalization," commented Baydarol.

EU countries' declaration of support for Turkey is no ordinary thing given that ties between Ankara and Brussels were quite strained until several months ago.

Turkey's talks over joining the 28-nation bloc have long been frozen, with almost no progress having been achieved in the past five years or so.

French President Emmanuel Macron said early this week that the EU should develop a strategic partnership with Turkey, including in the area of defense.

However, he once again underlined that Turkey should not be admitted as an EU full member on the grounds that the Turkish government has an anti-European pan-Islamist discourse.

In a sign of support for Ankara, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire hosted his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak in Paris at the beginning of this week.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly said he highly appreciated the EU's support, in particular by Merkel as Ankara is struggling to keep the economy under control.

Germany should be expected to give green light for updating the Customs Union Agreement between Ankara and Brussels during Erdogan's upcoming visit to Berlin, said Sen.

Erdogan demands for the agreement to be updated have so far been rejected by the EU, first and foremost by Merkel.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Merkel during a visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29. Ahead of his visit, Albayrak is set to meet with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Sept. 21.

According to some reports, Berlin plans to help Ankara through indirect ways such as promoting business.

The EU is planning to allocate huge sums of money for the reconstruction of Syria. Sen said the EU wants Turkey's construction industry, which is in big financial difficulty due to plummeting demand at home, to have a part in the reconstruction works.

It is widely argued that the EU's concern over Turkey had also to do with ensuring that Ankara, in line with a deal inked last year, continues to block irregular migration of refugees toward Europe.

Turkey currently hosts around 3.5 million Syrians on its soil.

Both Sen and Baydarol feel that Washington's alienating and dictating attitudes toward its allies are helping bringing Ankara and Brussels together, as the United States and the EU are engaged in trade disputes, among others.

"Because it has now become clear that Turkey's and the EU's interests are converging in the new order the United States is trying to create," remarked Baydarol.