Political and economic developments in the European Union, Turkey and Russia are cumulatively aiding Russian President Vladimir Putin to become an ascending star in the international firmament. In an unexpected twist, the supporting actor in this dramatic ascent is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former staunch critic of the Kremlin in the Syrian civil war who is now aligned with Putin in hostility towards the EU.
The rise of right-wing populism in the EU – Brexit, improved performance by Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the 15 March Dutch general election, and the lead position of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in French opinion polls – is a contributory element. Another is the refugee crisis which has widened the base of Europe’s rightwing parties. Though less severe now than in 2015, the present quiescent state of the refugee crisis depends on Erdogan’s good will. By closing Turkish borders with neighboring Greece, he drastically reduced the refugee influx into the EU. Equally, he could reverse his decision and revive the crisis. Continue reading