Just before last week's Nato summit in Vilnius, Turkey grabbed headlines by dropping its objections to Sweden joining the alliance. It was a shocking position shift.
For months, Ankara blocked Stockholm’s bid for membership because of what it saw as tolerance in Sweden for what Turkey calls a terrorist organisation – the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.
The turnaround is part of an intriguing pattern. It appears that the newly re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is aligning his foreign policy with the West and pivoting away from Russia.
"In-house distrupter in Nato"
Although an important member of Nato and a prospective member of the European Union, Turkey has been a troublesome partner for the West, or what The New York Times described as “an in-house disrupter in Nato” over the last few years.
When Erdoğan became prime minister in 2003, Turkey started pushing back against the West. It leant away from the EU, Nato and particularly the United States. It started by refusing permission to use Nato bases in Turkey during the US invasion of Iraq.
Turkey also reinforced its economic and trade relations with Iran despite the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU. It broadly intensified relations with Russia, including in the military, purchasing the S400 missile system in 2017.
Erdoğan leveraged accession talks with the EU to modernise Turkey's economy. More importantly, he took the chance to neutralise the political role of the military and bring it under civilian control as required by the bloc, but once that was done, his interest in joining the EU cooled.