PARIS: A renowned French author has called for European powers to halt Turkey’s expansionist policies and place sanctions on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In an article in Le Figaro, historian and author Nicolas Baverez said now is the time for Europe to harden its position by practicing a firm policy towards Turkey.
He said Europe should stop Turkish accession to the European Union, place sanctions against Erdogan and his relatives and offer support for Greece and Cyprus.
Baverez said that since rising to power, Erdogan, who leads the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has gradually tightened his control over the machinery of the state, placing his relatives in sensitive posts and terrorizing the population in an “unprecedented totalitarian drift.”
Internationally, Erdogan has pursued aggressive policies that have destabilized the entire region, especially by engaging in wars in Syria, Libya and the Nagorno-Karabakh region disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Baverez also accused Turkey of supporting Islamic extremism at the expense of moderate Sunni countries and aiming to present itself as the Sunni world’s leading force.
“At the same time, Turkey’s resurgence on the regional scene comes as part of Erdogan's effort to rebuild the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire,” Baverez said.
He argued that Turkey is increasingly distancing itself from Europe and NATO.
The purchase of Russian military equipment, the conflict with Greece and Cyprus, and recent tensions with French President Emmanuel Macron, have added to Turkey’s isolation.
Erdogan and Macron have been at loggerheads in recent weeks after the Turkish president attacked France amid the aftermath of an extremist murder of a French schoolteacher.
Samuel Paty was beheaded last month after showing students cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad during a discussion about freedom of speech.
Erdogan, whose politics are rooted in Islamist ideology, attacked Macron over his response to the atrocity, sparking a war of words.
Writing in one of France’s most esteemed publications, Baverez said the creeping Islamization of Turkish society is becoming increasingly contradictory with the republican and secular state of France, “which seems to aggravate the animosity of Erdogan and Turkey towards France in particular and Europe in general.”
“Turkey is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis, as well as a COVID-19 pandemic that has caused a health crisis,” Baverez said. “These difficult conditions pushed Erdogan to even more radical positions, in an effort to mask his problems and distract the population from their daily problems.”
The historian said Erdogan has interpreted Europe’s conciliatory “carrot and stick” strategy as weakness, leading him to increase pressure especially with Greece and Cyprus.
“The time is right to limit Turkish expansion and stem the Islamist movement,” he said.