BERLIN — After years of on-again, off-again efforts to join the European Union, Turkey is again on the outs with Europe, a major casualty of Turkish leaders’ harsh response to protests that have swept their country for more than three weeks.
The next steps in E.U. membership discussions were originally scheduled to begin within days, but Germany blocked them last week over concerns that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had taken an undemocratic turn in his efforts to stamp out the protests. Thousands across Turkey have turned to the streets with complaints that focus on restricted personal liberties under his rule.
Turkey once coveted membership in the European Union in the hopes of economic and political benefits. But after years of caution from Germany, France and others on whether to grant Turkey membership, Erdogan turned his attention to building his country’s influence in the Middle East and among its neighbors.