“He who is sometimes presented as the new sultan”, at times and in the name of political Islam, “caressed many contradictory ambitions”, says the former president of France in his latest book.
The Turkish president is a contradictory personality who considers “ambiguities an advantage” and “diplomacy twists and turns”, and who, like his “latent enemy”, Putin, appears warm and communicative at first, but then becomes cold and argumentative Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as outlined by former French President Francois Hollande in his latest book entitled “Upheavals” (Bouleversements. Éditions Stock).
In a chapter of the book under the title “Ottoman nostalgia”, Hollande states that “the one who is sometimes presented as the new sultan”, at times and in the name of political Islam, “caressed many contradictory ambitions”. Since coming to power, Erdogan has shown, according to Hollande, two faces. Initially he emerged as a modern leader, open and able to reconcile Islam with Democracy. He promoted the issue of Turkey’s accession to the EU, improved his country’s finances and, taking advantage of the Arab Spring, attempted to increase his influence in the Middle East.
In second phase Erdoğan, seeing, according to Hollande, “the flowers of the Arab spring wither” and the developments in Syria, Egypt, Libya and the Gulf countries not in line with Turkish interests, alienated himself from everyone and drew up a new strategy based on aggression and Ottoman nostalgia. As part of this strategy, in 2015 he allowed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to reach the islands and coasts of Greece, in order to “cash in” afterwards, as Hollande points out, by closing the borders. It was a form of blackmail that Angela Merkel did not resist and convinced, even after much suffering, the other Europeans not to resist either, Hollande says, pointing out that since then Europe has turned a blind eye to the increasing human rights violations in Turkey. Referring then to the failed 2016 military coup against Erdogan, Hollande points out that the Turkish president’s insistence that the US and Europe support the Gulen sect is unfounded and is being used as a pretext to further distance Turkey from the West. According to Hollande, Erdogan, in his pursuit of re-establishing the Ottoman Empire, even if virtually, decided to get involved in various conflicts, from Africa to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Caucasus. Ambiguity also characterizes the presence of Turkey in NATO, which, as Hollande notes, buys weapons from Russia, sets conditions for the integration of Sweden and Finland, pursues, for the time being, a verbal confrontation with Greece, insists on the occupation of northern Cyprus, blocking any attempt to bring the two communities closer together and questioning the right of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU, to exploit the oil fields in its maritime zone. Concluding and referring to Kurdish, François Hollande points out that Erdogan has no problem supporting those who oppose the West, citing as an example his decision to approach Iran and Russia in Tehran in July 2022.
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