Spat or deep rift?

March 17, 2017

The bitter row between Turkey and Europe in the referendum campaign on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers risks causing lasting damage to their often fraught relationship, analysts say.

Once the current spate of votes in Turkey and Europe is over, the dispute will leave both sides at a historic crossroads to decide on the nature of their future alliance.

Turkey is a key member of Nato and has sought to join the European Union as a strategic goal in an agonisingly long process dating back to the 1960s.

There have been numerous rows over the last few years – especially over human rights – but none have matched the volcanic acrimony of the current clash as Turkey gears up for their April 16 plebiscite.

Erdogan has said The Netherlands and Germany were acting like the Nazis for preventing his ministers from holding rallies abroad to push for a “yes” vote in the referendum, leaving The Hague and Berlin aghast.

“Such tensions leave their mark and weaken the perception that Turkey and Europe share a common fate,” said Ilter Turan, professor of political science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.