In a day of barbs, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Benjamin Netanyahu the “butcher of Gaza” and Turkey got labelled the “sick man of Nato”. Wednesday November 29 did, however, bring some soothing words from the European Commission. It said that despite the deep rift between Brussels and Ankara, the EU wants to revive its political and economic relationship with Turkey.
Erdogan’s branding of Israeli PM Netanyahu as a “butcher” came as he accused his counterpart of spawning anti-Semitism across the world, AFP reported.
The Turkish leader, who has labelled Israel a “terrorist state” and demanded its top officials be tried for war crimes, has lashed out repeatedly over the scale of the death and destruction wrought against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by the Israelis in response to Hamas militants’ bloodthirsty cross-border massacre in Israel on October 7.
"Netanyahu has already written his name in history as the butcher of Gaza," Erdogan said in nationally televised remarks made to lawmakers of his ruling AKP party. He added: “Netanyahu is endangering the security of all Jews in the world by supporting anti-Semitism with the murders he committed in Gaza."
The roadblocks Erdogan continues to put in the way of Sweden joining Nato are, meanwhile, once more prompting scathing commentaries from supporters of the transatlantic defence alliance.
Sweden said on November 29 that Turkey’s top diplomat has informed Swedish officials that he expects Turkey will be able to ratify and sign off on the Nato membership by the end of this year. Still, there are no guarantees, meaning Erdogan could exploit the issue further in his foreign policy bargaining and that, for one, would not go down well with retired US Air Force judge advocate and intelligence officer Richard Ghazal, currently executive director at In Defense of Christians, an organisation advocating for the protection and preservation of Christianity in the Middle East.
Writing in Newsweek, Ghazal condemned Erdogan for actions including his offering of vocal support for Hamas, and concluded: “It was solely on the basis of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's secular legacy—as well as the country's strategic location straddling Europe and Asia—that NATO welcomed Turkey as a strategic ally in 1952. Alas, international relations are not static, and Turkey has sufficiently demonstrated, over decades, that it is no longer a stalwart ally. It is time for the West to face this problem squarely.
“In the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, due to internal rot and the decay of its international stature, Turkey was known as the ‘sick man of Europe.’ In recent decades, for the same reasons, Turkey has become the ‘sick man of NATO.’ By mutating into a democracy-in-name-only, presenting an afront to Western values, and by fomenting mayhem in its region, Turkey has become more of a menace than ally to NATO. It should be called out and put out.”
Striking a somewhat different tone, the EU’s Oliver Varhelyi, the bloc's Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, told reporters on November 30 that when it comes to the European Union and Turkey "there's more that unites us than what divides us."
Expanded cooperation with Turkey on trade, energy, transport and migration management were among recommendations unveiled by the European Commission, as it also confirmed that negotiations will be resumed on a modernised EU-Turkey customs union, provided Ankara backs efforts to crack down on the evasion of European sanctions against Russia.
Engagement would be "progressive, proportionate and reversible," the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said.