BRUSSELS (Reuters) — Growing ties between Turkey and Iran are causing concern in some parts of the European Union (EU) and could provide ammunition for opponents of Ankara’s drive to join the wealthy bloc.
Although EU entry is Ankara’s priority, the Islamist-rooted ruling AK party has increased Turkey’s influence in the Middle East. In the past few weeks, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has visited Tehran and Turkey has hosted Iran’s president at a summit of Islamic countries.
Some European countries say Turkey’s improved ties with Iran could help EU policy in the Middle East and boost world powers’ efforts to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.
Others fear Ankara could be turning its back on Europe and its policy could hinder talks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program by reducing Tehran’s isolation.
“Policymakers in the West are getting worried that Turkey’s growing ties with Iran — by lessening that country’s sense of isolation — may frustrate diplomatic efforts to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb,” wrote Katynka Barysch of the Center for European Reform, a think tank in London.
She also suggested some European countries could try to play up any differences in Turkish and EU policies to strengthen their arguments against Turkey entering the 27-country bloc.