During a meeting with the editors of The New York Times seven months ago, former U.S. Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden labeled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan an “autocrat” and criticized Turkey for its constructive relations with Moscow and policies over northeastern Syria.
The current tension in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece is a consequence of Greece’s unfair and maximalist claims that violate Turkey’s rights in the region. Any sober analyst would agree on the unfair nature of the plans that Athens tries to impose on Ankara. These aggressive claims are supported by actors like France, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who all have their own problems with Turkey.
Turkey’s most recent steps in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean raised questions in foreign capitals about that country’s international standing. As Americans grappled with President Donald Trump’s call to delay the 2020 elections, the European media went berzerk over the Hagia Sophia’s reclassification as a mosque. On the one hand, they called on European leaders to respond to “Sultan” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom they charged with neo-Ottomanist expansionism. At the same time, European reporters appreciate that Erdoğan has been filling the power vacuum that the United States left behind, empowering his country in the process. They also understand that the Turkish president, as an experienced leader, does what his European counterparts fail to do and takes his country to a new level of agency.