Turkey has taken an unusually conciliatory approach to the European Union (E.U.) and asked for financial backing as it fights an escalating U.S. trade and tariff war.
The plea comes less than 12 months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared both the Dutch and German governments to the Nazis while demanding the rest of the E.U. grant immediate visa-free entry to Turkish citizens.
It also follows a warning that millions of people could pour into the E.U. from Turkey in “another wave of migration” if the country’s economic crisis escalates into a full-blown collapse.
Mr. Erdogan spoke by phone about stability and cooperation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, and with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, AP reports.
Turkey freed two Greek soldiers who had been held in a Turkish prison for months in the days before the phone call. And a Turkish court freed Taner Kilic, an Amnesty International representative who was jailed for 14 months, though the terror-related charges against him were not dropped.
“There is a growing reaction in Europe against the Trump administration’s restrictive and punitive economic policies,” Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish president, said in remarks that avoided touching on difficulties in relations between Europe and Turkey.
He claimed Turkey, France and Germany “are on the same page” in opposing the U.S. move to impose tariffs.
Holger Schmieding, an economist for Berenberg bank, told AP there are limits to what the E.U. can do to help Turkey.
“A few extra billion euros for Turkey to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis and some small amounts from other EU funds are feasible,” he wrote in an analysis. “But such sums would not make a decisive difference.”
Schmieding said a bailout by the International Monetary Fund, seen as unlikely at the moment, could become a “realistic option” if Erdogan improves political ties with the EU and the United States and makes a “U-turn” on economic policies.
The Turkish lira has fallen 36 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2018, and the country faces increasing debt without foreign investment from its European neighbours.
Washington is continuing to push Ankara to release Evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held on terrorism charges.
AP contributed to this report.
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