Is Turkey’s Stateless Ambassador the Sign of Things to Come?

Egemen Bagis is a colorful figure. Born in Turkey in 1970, he came to New York for his higher education and ultimately found a job with the Federation of Turkish American Associations while simultaneously scrambling for a green card. Bagis had ambition, latched on to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and rode his coattails into power.

After 2002, Erdogan often trotted Bagis—now a parliamentarian—out to counter criticism (including my own) about Turkey’s declining freedom. Bagis eventually became Turkey’s chief negotiator for European Affairs and later its inaugural minister of European Union Affairs. In these capacities, his goal was less to bring Turkey into the Western fold than to cajole Europe to support reforms that had less to do with democracy than Erdogan’s desire to unravel the checks and balances that prevented the Turkish leader from consolidating his dictatorship. In this mission, he succeeded.

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