Turkey’s Tangled Syria Policy
August 27, 2013
Since the start of the civil war in Syria, Turkey has struggled to develop the best strategy to manage the crisis. The war has brought fatalities, shellfire, bombs, militias, sectarian tensions and uncertainty to Turkey’s long southern border. Turkey has also welcomed at least 450,000 Syrian refugees, a number that could rise sharply. Security problems are also multiplying for Turkey, with Syria’s conflicts in a roiling stalemate and Syria itself turning into a failed state.
Turkey’s security and humanitarian challenges are exacerbated by the historic and societal overlaps along the frontier—particularly in Hatay Province, where geography and population make it a Syrian microcosm in Turkey. Regionally, the Syria conflict exemplifies how Turkey’s “zero problem” policy has become multiple problems. Moreover, Ankara allowed its bitter feud with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and its open support for opposition fighters to box in its options. The crisis blocked Turkey’s main trade routes to the Arab world and opened a new front in its Kurdish problem.
This article examines Turkey’s strategic interests and level of involvement in Syria, as well as the challenges and opportunities that Syria presents. It finds that whereas Turkey until 2008 was praised for its ability to speak to all regional players from Israel to Iran, the Syrian crisis has accelerated a new tendency for Ankara to be seen as a partisan actor. While Turkish leaders claim that their country has sufficient resources to be the region’s main power, leverage over Syrian events is clearly limited. The government’s sense of defensiveness has been increased by domestic, pro-secularist, anti-government unrest in June 2013, followed by the June 30 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a close Islamist ally of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan government.
Turkey’s Strategic Interests in Syria
Traditional Turkish policy in the Middle East and elsewhere has been primarily based on defensive security, commercial opportunities, energy supplies, and if possible some prestige. Policy choices in the last few years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, however, have become more ideological, especially in seeking partnerships with Sunni Muslim actors such as Qatar, and sometimes implicitly reflecting a Sunni Turkish version of the Islamist worldview both at home and abroad. Ankara has explicitly chosen one or more foreign Sunni Muslim internal players as a partner: it has moved closer to Sunni Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, has been hostile to Iraq’s Shi`a Muslim prime minister, preferred Hamas among all Palestinian factions, and is one of the only states to support the ousted Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. In the case of Syria, this new policy has become adventurous, including support for Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Sunni armed opposition groups.
Syria—a core part of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries until the First World War—has always been a cornerstone of Turkey’s Middle East strategy. This is due to Syria’s geographic position, its role during the past century as a leader of the hard line Arab resistance against the encroachments of Israel, and the prestige of Damascus in Arab opinion. After Iraqi internal security collapsed with the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Syria also became the main truck route for Turkey’s Middle Eastern exports. Syria’s fulcrum role in the Arab world also made it a multiplier of Turkish policy—a redoubtable problem when Ankara-Damascus ties have soured.
For instance, squabbles over the demarcation line of the 570-mile border between the two states have long strained Ankara-Damascus ties. During the Cold War, NATO member Turkey and Soviet ally Syria marked the frontier with minefields, barbed wire and watchtowers, built dams on major cross-border rivers such as the Euphrates and Orontes, and accused each other of backing domestic armed insurgents.
In 1998-1999, after Turkey threatened to invade Syria over its support (since 1984) for the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Damascus expelled PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. There followed an extraordinary turnaround. Where Syria had been the main obstacle blocking Turkey’s progress in the Arab world, it became Turkey’s partner. The late 2000s saw frequent public closeness between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syria became the poster child of Turkey’s late 2000s policy of “zero problems” with neighbors, leading the way with freer travel, trade agreements, infrastructure integration and regular high-level political meetings. In a way, this was a continuation of Turkey’s traditional policy of engaging the Middle East, but in a warmer and more friendly guise: seeking neutrality, able to speak to all parties including Israel, and respecting existing borders.
After becoming increasingly embroiled in disputes with Israel from 2009 onwards, Turkey’s neutrality began to unravel. When Syrians began demonstrating against al-Assad in March 2011, Turkey tried for months to stave off the budding rebellion, with Erdogan pressing al-Assad to reform in repeated telephone calls and visits to Damascus by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. When al-Assad brushed this advice aside, Turkey executed another 180 degree turn: it publicly sponsored an opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) at a meeting in Istanbul in August 2011. In September 2011, Erdogan called unequivocally for al-Assad to relinquish power, saying he had been betrayed by al-Assad’s broken promises and angered at the regime’s attacks on civilian protesters. Turkey was convinced by an international consensus that the Damascus regime would fall quickly, and it did not want to lag behind any foreign intervention, a “latecomer” role that limited its leverage after Libya’s regime change.
Turkey’s quick recognition of the SNC umbrella of political groups and opposition militias as the official representative of the Syrian opposition in November 2011 was encouraged by its established relationship with the SNC’s main member, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Although foreign backers tried to make the SNC non-sectarian, it never managed to be fully representative, partly because Syria’s Kurds and secular groups remained suspicious of Turkey’s involvement, motives, and ethnic and religious priorities, and some gravitated to other groups before a new umbrella organization, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, was established in Qatar in November 2012.
Supporting the SNC and then the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces also signaled an end to Turkey’s efforts to be viewed as a Muslim power that rose above sectarianism, and a subsequent slide in its regional influence. There have still been signs of the former neutrality—in 2011, Prime Minister Erdogan visited Iraqi Shi`a shrines, clerics and politicians, and Foreign Minister Davutoglu clearly tried to make the Syrian opposition broad-based. Yet the Syrian crisis pushed Turkey deeper into alignment with mainly Sunni Muslim opposition fighters and conservative Sunni powers, notably Qatar. In Iraq, another key border state for Turkey, Ankara felt forced into deeper opposition to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whom it increasingly saw as an irredeemably pro-Iran, Shi`a actor and supporter of the al-Assad regime.
Level of Involvement in Syria
Military tensions began to rise in 2012. In June, a Turkish reconnaissance jet crashed in Syrian waters, with Syria saying it shot the plane down and Turkey responding with initially fiery rhetoric and more aggressive rules of engagement. As anti-Assad rebels seized control of northern Syria, five Turkish townspeople were killed and nine wounded by a stray shell in the town of Akcakale on October 3. On October 4, the Turkish parliament approved a bill that would allow the government to order troops abroad, including to Syria. Over the next nine months, stray bullets and shells killed and injured more people in the eastern Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Turkish artillery batteries were moved to the border area and have returned fire, sometimes for hours on end. The most dramatic single event was a May 11, 2013, car bombing in the border town of Reyhanli that killed 53 people and which Turkey blamed on Syrian covert action. By mid-August 2013, an unofficial casualty toll maintained by the International Crisis Group counted 74 dead in Turkey from Syria-related border violence since 2011.
Turkey quickly requested and in January 2013 received NATO protection from possible Syrian attack, with American, Dutch, and German Patriot missile defense systems deployed to protect major cities. Nominally this was a measure against Syria’s presumed chemical-tipped missiles, but NATO public support was even more important as psychological support at home and a general deterrent to Damascus. Ankara attempted to persuade its Western allies to take a more proactive role in the war, calling at times for a no-fly zone to protect the rebel-held areas of the country and for stronger backing for opposition militias. It allowed Gulf states and Western intelligence agencies to support, finance and arm opposition militias.
It is not clear how much arming and training Turkey did independently, aside from some groups close to its border, as well as multiple reports of Turkey allowing an Islamist group to cross the border to attack a Syrian Kurdish militia in November 2012. The Turkish government also faces considerable if muted domestic opposition to its Syria policy, with one poll showing only one-third of the Turkish population supporting Ankara’s anti-Assad Syria policy, and 43% saying that Turkey should have remained neutral. For now, several refugee camps and the Turkish towns near them are frequently used by Syrian opposition fighters as off-duty resting places to visit their families, receive medical services and purchase supplies.
Challenges and Opportunities
Ankara has seized one opportunity from the crisis in Syria: to launch a process to solve the Kurdish problem and the PKK insurgency. This has given Turkey some leverage over the situation in northern Syria, where the PKK-aligned Democratic Union Party (PYD) has primacy over the Syrian Kurds. At times, Turkish government officials explicitly stated that their motive in seeking reconciliation was to bolster a regional standing that had been hobbled by the continued PKK and Turkish army fighting in Turkey. In July 2013, Turkish officials also had apparently productive meetings with the main Syrian Kurdish militia leader, Salih Muslim, of the PYD. Yet a variety of domestic challenges in mid-2013 distracted the Ankara government, and doubts now cloud the future of Turkey’s relationship with the Kurds—a problem that since 1984 has killed more than 30,000 people, cost Turkey $300 billion, hamstrung its democratization efforts and damaged its relationship with the European Union.
Separately, one of Turkey’s major challenges involves the presence of 450,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom are in Turkish border provinces, nearly half in 17 camps and the rest in towns and villages. Turkey has spent an estimated $1 billion so far, but has only received one tenth of that in international aid due to disagreements with donors over control of the funds. Another 100,000 Syrians are stuck in insecure, often unpleasant conditions on the Syrian side of the border, and the United Nations predicts the total number of those fleeing could double or triple in 2013. Opposition fighters and Syrians with passports can cross the border freely, but Ankara allows incoming refugees only when there is room in camps.
Another major challenge is receiving the external support Turkey needs as the refugee crisis becomes larger and more protracted. Turkey has begun to register a few more international aid organizations, and it should allow UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations greater access. Turkey could also take more steps to speed international aid shipments destined for the far greater humanitarian problems inside Syria.
One aspect of the de facto refugee situation in Turkey is the way Syrians living outside refugee camps in Turkey seem to be fitting in as a new working class. There seems to be few obstacles to their long-term integration, but the May 2013 car bomb in Reyhanli, where many Syrian refugees live, did trigger local demonstrations. The presence of largely Sunni Muslim refugees is exacerbating sensitive ethnic and sectarian balances, particularly in Hatay Province, where more than one-third of the population is of Arab Alevi descent and directly related to Syria’s Alawites. The Turkish authorities have so far defused tensions in Hatay that had peaked with demonstrations in September 2012. Much of the problem appears to be based on misperceptions and fears—including possibly exaggerated reports that rival communities are arming.
The security challenge naturally looms large. Turkey has little capacity to solve the intractable problems inside Syria if it acts alone, and it is unlikely to stage a solo military intervention. It is bound by its membership in NATO’s defensive alliance and is responsible for the safety of the American, Dutch and German Patriot missile systems symbolizing that solidarity. Actual interventions have so far been confined to returning fire if shells or bullets do damage in Turkey and quiet support for the armed Syrian opposition.
Still, these policies remain open to debate. Increased arming of opposition fighters seems unlikely to enable the rebels to topple the regime quickly, and these militias have become enmeshed in other problems, including fighting among themselves. AKP leaders’ repeated statements about the glories of the Ottoman Empire that collapsed in 1918 and a leading historical and economic role in its Sunni Muslim neighborhood is at odds with the present reality that it now has an uncontrollable, fractured, radicalized “no-man’s land” on its doorstep.
One bright spot in this gloomy picture has been the economic resilience of the Turkish border area, a principal beneficiary of the past decade’s Turkey-Syria trade boom. In Hatay Province, for example, despite real damage in some sectors, local businesses have adapted remarkably. Some have even pioneered a new roll-on/roll-off truck convoy route by sea to Haifa, across Israel and the West Bank to the Gulf. In the end, overall exports and economic output in the province were both down only 1% from a year earlier.
Preferred Strategic Endstate
From the moment they turned against the Bashar al-Assad regime in August 2011, Prime Minister Erdogan and his AKP government have been betting on a quick resolution that would put into power representatives of what it sees as Syria’s natural 70% majority of Sunni Muslims. Today, Ankara has not retreated from the position that al-Assad should relinquish power, despite strong evidence that the Syrian leader will neither step down nor extend his control over the half of the country he does not control.
The emotional and domestic policy commitment to this policy means it is unlikely to change. A new Turkish government in 2014, however, would likely return to a more cautious, traditional stance that is more respectful of existing borders. Even now, the current government is trying to harden parts of the border with barbed wire to reassert control. Army units have even opened fire on groups—that official statements refer to as “smugglers”—trying to cross the border.
Turkey adopted its aggressive strategy toward Syria and its generous but expensive hosting of refugees for several understandable reasons. These include: the wish to aid those fleeing the fighting, the belief that many Syrians want to return home as soon as it is safe to do so, the unexpectedly massive scale of the emergency, and encouragement from international partners who have promised much support but given little. Yet a more controversial reason luring Turkish policymakers deeper into Syria’s problems is a sense of historical responsibility for parts of its regional backyard that until 1918 were part of the Ottoman Empire, which Turkey views as its predecessor state.
Turkish nationalists have never fully accepted the legitimacy of the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement that drew the border that became a reality after the international recognition of the new Republic of Turkey in 1923. Turkey engineered the annexation of Alexandretta Province, which was part of the French-mandate of Syria, in 1939 (now the Turkish province of Hatay). Going further than any previous Turkish government, Foreign Minister Davutoglu is repeatedly on record saying that Turkey would like to overthrow the “colonialist” Sykes-Picot order. At the same time, it is not clear what border or regional arrangement with which Turkey seeks to replace it, given that resurrecting any version of the Ottoman Empire is out of the question due to Turkey’s lack of power and antipathy to the idea in the region.
Turkey has no policy to annex neighboring, formerly Ottoman territories, but it is seeking more influence, economic access, and control. Turkish officials do not talk of changing borders, but recognize that their actions are blurring them. One hint at the kind of new approach to be expected is that senior Turkish officials make it clear that they are building up a close relationship with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), including deals for energy pipelines to Turkey, independent of the relationship with Baghdad and with less concern than in the past for consequences for the territorial unity of Iraq. It is not clear how this pattern might be reproduced in Syria; there is no pre-existing Kurdish regional structure (as was the case for Iraq’s KRG since 1974) and the main Syrian Kurdish militia says it has no federal aim.
Turkey’s Syria policy is in jeopardy, with few obvious opportunities and many grave problems. A bet since 2011 that al-Assad would be ousted quickly has not paid off. Turkey has blurred its border with Syria and already suffered blowback on its own territory in terms of refugees, bomb attacks and ethnic tensions. It has few levers over the emerging mosaic of militias, radical groups and impoverished people just across its border.
The catastrophic problems of Syria since 2011 would have been a severe test for any Turkish government, coming as they did in the wake of the uprisings that have rocked the Arab world. A variety of aggravating factors have made it even worse for the ruling AKP. It had invested in the al-Assad regime and in the idea of a region characterized by free trade, free movement of people, infrastructure integration and high-level political harmony—all of which remain idealistic dreams at this point. The AKP’s obvious later support for the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist elements in the Syrian opposition signaled a sectarian tendency to intervene in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or against the Shi`a prime minister in Iraq—both of these moves have had limited success and have diminished Turkey’s image as an impartial and strong regional power.
Many of Turkey’s problems linked to Syria’s strategic quicksand remain unresolved. Ankara’s refugee policy has come at great domestic cost, requires Turkey to keep some refugees from crossing the border and is probably not sustainable if Turkey is forced to accept another large exodus from Syria. Turkey has adopted language implying its desire to redraw the borders of the Middle East, which has stoked regional suspicions. Turkey’s traditional Western alliances have been weakened by the AKP’s authoritarian tendencies and scornful rhetoric toward the European Union. Although a sharp difference in Syrian priorities has not been a big issue between Ankara and Washington, there is a perception in the United States of an overconfident Turkish prime minister acting against stated U.S. wishes for international support for a united Iraq.
At the same time, Turkey cannot be expected to disassociate itself from the turmoil in its neighborhood, especially given the way its regional rivals Iran and Russia are standing so firmly behind the Damascus regime. Humane, generous and flexible policies have also made Turkey by far the best place to be a Syrian refugee.
New contacts with the Syrian Kurdish PYD militia, the peace talks with the PKK, and better relations with Iraq’s KRG all show a new pragmatism that can at least add predictability to areas just across its borders. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Syrian crisis has done great damage to Turkey’s hopes and plans for a Middle East that would offer it heightened security, sustained new commercial opportunities, and increased leadership and prestige.
Hugh Pope is the co-author of Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey, and the author of Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World and Dining with al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East. He is the Turkey/Cyprus Project Director of International Crisis Group.
 “Poor Transparency Shadows Turkey’s Syria Refugee Policy,” Hurriyet, May 27, 2013.
 The “zero problem with neighbors” foreign policy term was coined by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and is associated with the period of his ascendancy with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002. In practice, it reflects Turkey’s ability between 1999 and 2008 to have much better relations with neighbors than had been possible in the Cold War era. Officially, it is a broad statement of good will, reconciles idealism and pragmatism, and reflects Turkey’s belief that its relative economic strength and democratic advances should translate into a leading regional role. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ definition of the term is available at www.mfa.gov.tr/policy-of-zero-problems-with-our-neighbors.en.mfa.
 By mid-2013, however, a new engagement with Syrian Kurds gave Ankara more tools with which to work, if not the greater control that it seeks.
 “Cemevis [Alevi prayer houses] are not places of worship, they are centres where cultural events take place,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Turkish television channel ATV on August 5, 2012. Also see Semih Idiz, “The Sunnification of Turkish Foreign Policy,” al-Monitor, March 1, 2013, in which Idiz said, “The same Turkey that once hoped to be a peace broker in its region is now increasingly seen as inflaming sectarian divisions and fuelling instability.”
 Hugh Pope and Nicole Pope, Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey (New York: Overlook TP, 1999), pp. 270-271.
 Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence (New York: New York University Press, 2007).
 “Turkey and the Middle East: Ambitions and Constraints,” International Crisis Group, April 7, 2010, pp. 4-14.
 Having seen its good relations with all sides result in being trusted as a mediator between Israel and Syria in 2008, Turkey turned angrily on Israel after its attack on Gaza at the end of that year. Relations hit a new low in 2010 when Israel killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American on the high seas, part of an international convoy led by a Turkish non-governmental organization trying to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza. For the latter incident, see Isabel Kershner, “Deadly Israeli Raid Draws Condemnation,” New York Times, May 31, 2010.
 For a detailed chronology of Turkish actions on Syria since March 2011, see Aslı Ilgıt and Rochelle Davis, “The Many Roles of Turkey in the Syrian Crisis,” Middle East Research and Information Project, January 28, 2013.
 “After Istanbul Meeting, Syrian Dissidents Form ‘National Council’ to Oust Assad,” Agence France-Presse, August 23, 2011.
 “The time of autocracies is over,” said Erdogan. “Totalitarian regimes are disappearing. The rule of the people is coming.” See “Syria’s Oppressors Will Not Survive, Erdogan Says in Libya,” Today’s Zaman, September 16, 2011.
 “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood Open to Turkish ‘Role,’” Agence France-Presse, November 17, 2011.
 Sebnem Arsu and Tim Arango, “Turks Grant Recognition to Coalition of Syrians,” New York Times, November 15, 2012.
 Personal interview, Turkish official, Ankara, February 2013.
 After Erdogan intervened in support of Iraq’s Sunni leaders in April 2012, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared Turkey was turning into an “interfering” and “enemy” state. Erdogan then said that “there’s no need to let Maliki steal the show or gain prestige. Bad words implicate only those who use them.” See “Tough Words from Erdogan on Maliki and Kılıçdaroglu,” Radikal [Istanbul], April 21, 2012.
 “Turkey Says Syria Down its Air Force Jet,” Today’s Zaman, June 23, 2012; “Army on High Alert on Syrian Border as Turkey Warns of Retaliation,” Today’s Zaman, June 26, 2012.
 “Mortar from Syria Kills Five Family Members in Turkey,” Today’s Zaman, October 3, 2012.
 “Mandate to Send Troops Abroad Gets Criticism from Opposition,” Today’s Zaman, June 26, 2012.
 “Fourth Victim of Syrian Stray Bullets Buried in Ceylanpınar,” Today’s Zaman, August 4, 2013.
 “Tensions High as Funerals Held in Hatay,” Hurriyet, May 12, 2013; “Turkey Blames Syria for Border Gate Attack,” Hurriyet, March 11, 2013.
 The International Crisis Group provided these statistics to the author in August 2013.
 “U.S. to Send 2 Missile Units to Turkey to Deter Syrians,” New York Times, December 13, 2012.
 “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey,” International Crisis Group, April 30, 2013, p. 37.
 “Islamists Fighting Kurds in Syria Admit to Turkish Military Support,” Rudaw [Iraqi Kurdistan], February 6, 2013; Halil M. Karaveli, “Turkey, the Unhelpful Ally,” New York Times, February 27, 2013.
 See the Kadir Has University poll in January 2013, available at www.khas.edu.tr/news/799/1278/Khas-2012-Tuerkiye-Sosyal-Siyasal-Egilimler-Arastirmasi-Sonuclari-Aciklandi.html.
 “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey,” p. 36.
 For discussion of casualty figures, see “Turkey: Ending the PKK Insurgency,” International Crisis Group, September 20, 2011, p. 1. Prime Minister Erdogan gave the figure for the cost in “The Democratic Initiative Process,” Justice and Development Party, February 2010.
 “Poor Transparency Shadows Turkey’s Syria Refugee Policy,” Hurriyet, May 27, 2013.
 “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey,” pp. 13-14.
 Ibid., p. 30.
 “Guterres: UNHCR Not to Assume Operational Role in Turkish Refugee Camps,” Today’s Zaman, March 10, 2013.
 According to interviews conducted by the author in January 2013, local politicians claim the one-third figure, but activists such as Ali Yeral, an Arab Alevi leader and founding president of the Ehl-i Beyt Kültür ve Dayanısma Vakfı, think that half the province is Alevi.
 “Shabiha Behind Pro-Assad Rally in Hatay, Daily Claims,” Today’s Zaman, September 3, 2012.
 Ahmet Davutoglu, speech at Dicle University, March 15, 2013.
 Due to a special agreement with Israel, Turkish trucks that used to transit Syria to the Middle East can now bypass that country by using a special ferry service to the Israeli port of Haifa. From Haifa they drive in secure convoys through Israel, the Palestinian West Bank until they reach Jordan to continue their journey.
 Didem Collinsworth, “Hatay: The Syrian Crisis and a Case of Turkish Economic Resilience,” Turkish Policy Quarterly 12:1 (2013).
 Jonathan Randal, “Syria’s Threatened Minorities,” New York Times, May 4, 2012.
 “Turkish Army Places Tanks on Syria Border to Deter Smugglers,” Bloomberg, August 15, 2013.
 In a speech at Dicle University on March 15, 2013, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “The future cannot be constructed, first with their Sykes-Picot maps, then with colonial methods, and then with their newly concocted state understandings based on artificial maps and mutually hostile nationalist ideologies. We will break the mould drawn for us by Sykes-Picot” (author’s translation).
 “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey,” p. 39.
 Turkey has long worked with the more conservative Iraqi Kurdish leadership in the hope of outflanking the more radical, left-wing Turkish Kurds of the PKK.
 “EU-Turkey Relations on Edge after Germany Blocks Talks,” EU Observer, June 21, 2013; “Turkish PM Slams EU, Threatens to Freeze Ties,” Hurriyet, July 19, 2013.