The sad treatment reserved to the President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen on an official visit to Ankara together with the President of the Council Charles Michel, by the Turkish Sultan Erdogan, shows plastically what has been snaking for months among the main world diplomacies, namely the fact that Europe has assumed, mainly due to its own faults, an increasingly marginal role in the international geopolitical chessboard.
The fact of not providing an ordinance chair for the president of the Commission alongside the two politicians, is not, in fact, just a simple institutional rudeness, however serious because as is always the case in foreign policy, the form is also substance, but also in a certain sense a real act of irreverent and brazen foreign policy towards an opponent considered weak and unable to react.
Ever since Erdogan came to power, he has, in fact, always used the lever of foreign policy, blowing on the fire of the Turkish nationalist spirit, never quenched by the ancient glories of the glorious Ottoman Empire, to quell the many discontent within the struggling country with a devastating economic crisis, made even more worrying by the Covid19 pandemic. His faults in the economic management of the country are there for all to see, such as the sensational latest episode of the dismissal, last March 21, of the president of the central bank Naci Agbal, less than five months after his appointment, which inevitably triggered a very strong pressure from international markets on the Turkish lira, which has fallen to a year and a half lows.
The opportunity to flex his muscles with a weaker opponent, as in the case of Libya, Syria or Nagorno Karabakh, is part of the grandeur of the character, but he is not insane to the point of not understanding where he can go with his provocations and in front of those who should instead sketch.
It is evident that with Europe he knows he can “dare”, relying, rightly, both on the evident weakness of European leaders and on his blackmail weapon, used with diabolical cunning, of Syrian migrants (about 4 million) who aim to enter Europe, passing through the Turkish borders, to escape years of bloody war. This fact has allowed him for some time to be able to negotiate on many delicate issues, in a position of strength, with European countries, literally terrified at the very thought of having to face the opening of a new migration front on the Balkan side. This also allowed Turkey to have a substantial economic advantage.
Only in 2016 Ankara had received 3 billion from the EU to “manage” migratory flows (keeping its borders well sealed towards Europe itself) to which must be added another 4 billion in payments from the Union to the exhausted coffers of the Turkish state, in the following years. And also to talk about migrants that Von der Leyen and Charles Michel (the last Turkey – EU summit was in 2017) had organized their mission in Ankara, but also about human rights and the tensions unleashed by Turkey with Cyprus and Greece for issues related to Turkish oil drilling in Greek and Cypriot waters.
With this sensational gesture, which cannot be dismissed only as an institutional rudeness, but certainly had been prepared at the table, he wanted to show the whole world and his country that he certainly has no awe of the European Union. The fact that the two European exponents have lent themselves to the game, only reinforces the thesis of the extreme weakness and subordination of the European institutions in the face of those who have been mocking human rights for years and using every means to try to broaden their its influence on the eastern Mediterranean and beyond.
On the other hand, only a few months the high representative for foreign affairs, the Spaniard Joseph Borrell, known in Spain precisely for his habit of collecting sensational gaffes, had made a real fool in his meeting with the Russian counterpart Sergej Lavarov, within days of Navalny’s arrest. Lavrov, in fact, exploited the presence of the European foreign minister to attack the sanctions imposed by Washington and Brussels on his country, accusing the latter of promoting multilateralism in words but of carrying out in practice only the Western model, coming to define Europe as “an unreliable partner” in the face of Borrell’s embarrassing silence, who was very soft in condemning the illegitimate arrest of Alexej Navalny, guilty only of operating a fierce and peaceful opposition to President Putin.
Even in that case, the European Union has, in fact, shown all its weaknesses in front of the world, made even more evident by the lack of credible and authoritative leaders. For years the strength of Germany and its leader had covered a substantial absence of a true European foreign policy. With its decline it seems difficult to see who could hold the scepter. Not Macron, who just with Erdogan last summer showed his muscles, who already seems to have his own good things to fry at home where he comes out of this first experience at the Elysée much weakened at home, not only because of a failed management of the pandemic, but also for its limp and highly contested policy on the economic front, and its reconfirmation appears increasingly in the balance, not only by the presence of the solota Marine Le Pen (who is in the lead in the polls) but also by the possibility of a candidacy by Michel Barnier the former negotiator for the European Union on Brexit and with a long experience in the European Commission, which many in France take for sure.
In Spain Pedro Sanchez still has, if possible, more problems than his colleague from across the Alps, and then he certainly does not seem to have international authority to rise to such a role, authority that Mario Draghi certainly possesses, which however does not seem to have the characteristics to play an important role in foreign policy, as demonstrated by the slip in his first diplomatic mission in Libya. Hence the situation is left to inadequate politicians, who contribute to emphasize and make more and more evident the lack of a true spirit of identity around the project of a united and federal Europe, originally conceived in a very different way by great statesmen, such as Konrad Adenauer , Helmut Kohl, Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churcill, Joseph Bech. Until that spirit can be found, that strength and leader capable of riding it, poor and mistreated Europe will be left with only the crumbs at the table of the world’s greats, as dramatically demonstrated also in the story of the contracts with the manufacturers of the fundamental anti vaccines. Covid.