Erdoğan plans expansion abroad, repression in Turkey, analyst says

Turkey has used humanitarian aid as part of a soft power play to extend its international influence during the COVID-19 outbreak while the Turkish president is expanding his control at home during the pandemic, Marc Pierini, former EU ambassador to Turkey and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said on Thursday.

Turkey has supplied masks, personal protection suits and sanitiser gel to some 116 countries in a bid to use the pandemic to support countries in need and improve Turkey’s image on the international stage.

"The domestic opportunities Turkey sees, however, are quite different. Like other world leaders, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pressed ahead with repression at home," Pierini said in an article for Carnegie Europe.

Erdoğan has put all his eggs in one basket, the presidential elections scheduled in 2023 - the year of the centennial of the Turkish Republic, according to the analyst.

"The president intends to surpass - and in some ways erase - Kemal Atatürk’s legacy, making the next election one he cannot afford to lose," he said.