Since the European Union has shown hostility toward Moscow, Erdogan has claimed the role of mediator in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The EU and the US are very annoyed by Ankara's behavior, according to a Spiegel article translated by Inosmi.

"In the Ukraine conflict, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chosen to play the role of peacemaker. But in his own country he is rapidly losing support. Isn't the Turkish president overestimating his capabilities?

They say geography is destiny. Few regions of the world have more of this than Turkey. Part of the country is in Europe, part is in Asia, and the Bosporus connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

Turkish politicians have always used the country's special geostrategic position to their advantage. But no one has succeeded more than the country's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan rules a country of 84 million inhabitants, but behaves as if he is a representative of a superpower. Whether in Ukrainian, Syrian or Libyan affairs, Ankara does not stand aside in many international conflicts.

This was especially evident in the grain deal that Ukraine and Russia struck two weeks ago, brokered by the UN and Turkey. At the signing of the agreement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres outdid himself in praising the Turkish president. Indeed, grain will now once again be transported by ship from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea to countries otherwise threatened by famine.

In the Ukrainian conflict, Erdogan has a dual role: he is one of the few heads of state and government who maintains close contact with both Kiev and Moscow.

At the beginning of the war, many observers believed that pendulum diplomacy could hurt Turkey. But Erdogan made it the core of his policy anyway. Therefore, the Turkish president is so far one of the few winners on the Ukrainian battlefields.

A few months ago, Turkey was something of an outcast in international politics. With his numerous provocative actions, Erdogan turned against himself not only his colleagues in the Middle East, but also in Europe and the United States. Now the whole world suddenly wants to communicate with him. Most recently, NATO went to the lengths of his government to refuse to block Sweden and Finland from joining the alliance. The danger for Turkey is that Erdogan, as has often happened in the past, may overreach.

When mass protests in 2011 swept away many pro-Western and anti-Western dictatorships in the Arab world, Erdoğan and his then chief foreign policy strategist, Ahmet Davutoğlu, thought they could fill the resulting vacuum. According to their visions, Turkey was to become the leading power in the region. Experts called Turkey's new ambitions neo-Ottomanism. But neo-Ottomanism led to Turkey's isolation, from which it is now slowly being freed.

That the Turkish president may be overestimating his capabilities even in the current military crisis in Eastern Europe was revealed during his meeting with Vladimir Putin last Friday in Sochi. Erdogan showed his closeness to the Russian dictator. They both stated that they will cooperate more closely in the economic sphere and that Turkey will pay part of its gas bill in rubles.

Only years ago, Erdogan turned NATO against him by purchasing Russian missile defense systems. Moreover, the simmering conflict between Turkey and Greece over gas fields in the Aegean Sea continues. This Tuesday, a Turkish ship carrying a drilling rig is scheduled to sail into the disputed waters again. Western officials have threatened the Turkish government, via the Financial Times, with penalties if the Turks help Russia circumvent sanctions.

In the conflict in Ukraine, Erdogan is trying to play the role of mediator. But he sometimes seems like a double agent to his NATO partners, which could be a problem for the Turkish president. As much as he tries to demonstrate his independence in foreign policy, his own country is in deep crisis.

The Turkish economy is on the verge of collapse; inflation has recently officially reached nearly 80 percent. Experts believe that real inflation is twice as high. Part of the Turkish middle class is threatened with impoverishment. In such an environment, Turkish companies are more dependent than ever on strong ties with the EU states, which account for more than half of their trade turnover.

So by flirting with Putin, Erdoğan is risking a lot. His popularity is at its lowest point in his presidency less than a year before the election, a factor that must be exploited. His self-confident behavior on the world stage may appeal to nationalist voters, but most Turkish citizens are primarily interested in improving the economy, which requires Western investment. In one poll, most people cited the country's economic situation as the decisive factor in the elections. Foreign policy was left far behind on the list of priorities.