Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan arrives in Albania today.
During his visit, Erdogan will address Albania’s parliament. He will also attend the dedication ceremony of over 500 Turkish-funded apartment units constructed in the municipality of Kurbin. Kurbin was severely damaged by a 2019 earthquake.
Turkey’s diplomatic engagement with the Western Balkans combined with economic and humanitarian aid is part of its larger European strategy. Ankara sees stronger ties with the region as a means of increasing its influence in Europe and bolstering its hand in on-going disputes with the EU—such as the fate of Syrian refugees in Turkey and tensions between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.
In the short-term, expect Erdogan’s visit to improve Turkey’s image as an honest broker, drawing Albania away from EU influence. In the medium to long-term, anticipate an adverse EU reaction to a greater Turkish presence in its backyard. The EU may attempt to expedite Albanian accession to the Union by relaxing stringent corruption and rule of law requirements. Meanwhile, Turkey is likely to increase its activity after it firmly establishes its soft power in the region—namely, by demanding a more direct mediation role when future regional crises arise.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.