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While the European Union tries to weather a nationalist storm that threatens its core institutions, some of its most important strategic allies have injected more uncertainty into the current political climate.A few weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Erdogan for his attacks on press freedom; and Erdogan, for his part, dangerously trivialized Nazism in his comments criticizing the cancellation of pro-referendum rallies, due to security concerns, in Germany and the Netherlands.The growing tensions between Turkey and the EU have coincided with other important changes in Turkey's foreign policy. After Turkey downed a Russian warplane in November 2015, Erdogan reconciled with Russian President Vladimir Putin surprisingly quickly. To this end, the Turkish authorities are targeting the Democratic Union Party (PYD), claiming that it is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the United States, the EU and Erdogan all consider to be a terrorist group.Despite Erdogan's growing hostility, the EU should not hesitate to defend its ties with Turkey, or to remind Turkey that the relationship has been mutually beneficial. After all, Turkey's 1995 customs-union agreement with the EU has contributed substantially to its economic development.
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