Basking in adulation across Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama chose to expend some of his political capital to urge the European Union to open its doors to Turkey.
This public reaffirmation of long-standing U.S. policy fits in with Obama’s attempt to restore the United States’ standing in the Muslim world, using Turkey as a platform for his first state visit to a Muslim country. It also helps rebuild strategic ties with Ankara that sank to a low ebb under George W. Bush, when Turkey refused to allow U.S. forces to use its territory and airspace to invade Iraq.
And it contributed to convincing Turkish leaders at the weekend to drop their opposition to appointing the Danish prime minister as the new head of NATO.
But it risks raising unrealistic expectations that may cause deeper disenchantment between Turks and Europeans if the EU accession negotiations remain in a slow lane to nowhere.