Publié le 22/10/2021
A huge poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in front of the European and French flags and the Taksim mosque minaret in Istanbul.

Antoine MICHON

Since coming into office in 2017, Emmanuel Macron has been the loudest advocate for the development of European ‘strategic autonomy’, which aims at reinforcing the European Union’s geo-strategic independence. Asserting the EU’s role on the international stage, starting with its immediate neighborhood, directly clashes with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long-term expansion strategy in several key areas. 

The French president has been publicly using the repeated clashes in the Mediterranean, on border management, religious affairs, and the Rule of Law to convince his European counterparts of the need to protect European sovereignty by deepening the Union’s level of integration. Meanwhile, the failure of the European component of the ‘Strategic depth’ President Erdogan has been building since 2003, combined with growing political opposition due to the domestic economic situation has led him to adopt a more confrontational stance to support his domestic narrative. As such, despite the undeniable long-term benefits Brussels and Ankara could gain from deepening their strategic partnership, the personal enmity between leaders and their diverging short-term political interests have prevented any structural progress on key issues. The French Presidency of the European Union, which starts in January 2022 and will see President Macron run for his reelection, will be a hazardous time and could easily reignite tensions.