Within hours of Brussels giving the green light on Merkel’s ill-advised deal with Turkey, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacked sacked Ahmet Davutoglu, the prime minister who negotiated the deal with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Friday, Erdogan announced he would not fully implement the deal Davutoglu negotiated with Merkel.
The EU can no longer pretend that Erdogan has any intention of reforming Turkey.
Does the EU have a choice? The Financial Times says no. I say yes.
Erdogan Rejects EU Demands
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has rejected Brussels’ demands for an overhaul of an anti-terror law, suggesting he is prepared to abandon a deal EU leaders credit with curbing the flow of migrants.
Brussels has requested that Ankara make the change before the EU delivers visa-free travel for 80m Turks, one of the biggest concessions of the migration deal.
But Mr Erdogan insisted on Friday the legislation was necessary at a time when his country is being targeted by Islamist and Kurdish militants and said he was not prepared to change it.
Merkel Bows to Erdogan “Prince of Europe”
The anti-terror law in question gives Erdogan the ability to label anyone a terrorist for the flimsiest of reasons.
Erdogan has arrested journalists and academics, essentially anyone who publicly disagrees with him.
But Merkel does not care. She is even willing to kiss Erdogan’s feet in his newly commissioned golden throne.
Erdogan is a patient Islamist. He used his power to tighten his grip and consolidate power behind one party — and one man. He even commissioned a new golden throne to sit on. The putative caliph set about taking Turkey in an all too predictable direction — consolidating power around himself by taking it away from the military and judiciary and stifling domestic dissent whenever he could.
The extent to which Erdogan has been able to take Turkey backwards is a modern tragedy. When corruption allegations emerged around his immediate circle just over two years ago, he swiftly banned YouTube and Twitter, stuffed the ensuing investigatory-commission with members of his own party and dismissed the investigations as a ‘coup attempt’ by people serving ‘foreign powers’.
Didn’t Erdogan worry that his authoritarianism would disqualify him outright [from EU membership]?
He gambled that the EU, for all of its pious words, could be bought off later. In a single night in January 2014, he removed and replaced some 350 police officers. His party gave itself new powers permitting domestic espionage on banks and companies on matters relating to ‘foreign intelligence’.
By the end of 2013, Erdogan said he’d take no more lectures from Brussels and that he ‘sincerely expected the EU, which sharply criticises its member countries, should criticise itself and write its own progress report’. In March he seized control of Zaman, until then Turkey’s highest–circulation newspaper. And he has taken action against thousands of citizens for the offence of insulting the president. Last month, a Turkish man was arrested for insulting Erdogan by asking police for directions to the zoo.
When a late-night comedy show in Germany pointed to the absurdity of a German law forbidding insults against foreign leaders by attacking Erdogan, Turkey demanded that Berlin acted. Erdogan was calling Angela Merkel to heel. And successfully: she approved prosecution of the offending comedian.
Turkey is home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees — a fact which Erdogan is treating like being in possession of a loaded gun.
And so the EU has accepted Turkey’s abominable treatment of Kurds. It has ignored the ongoing illegal occupation of north Cyprus. And it has ignored every single one of its own putative ‘criteria’. In trying to avoid millions more migrants, the EU has opened the doors to 75 million Turks.
In private, Erdogan must be amazed at just how much he can wrangle. The worse his behaviour, the greater his clout in Europe. He can send German police to arrest German comedians whose jokes he dislikes. He can instruct the EU to delay its ‘progress reports’ on Turkey to a time that better suits his electoral purposes. A few weeks ago, a leaked transcript of a conversation showed Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, pleading Erdogan to consider that ‘we have treated you like a prince in Brussels’.
Is There a Choice?
Two months ago, the EU agreed to pay Ankara €6bn to help meet the cost of sheltering tens of thousands of additional migrants on its soil. Now, Brussels is offering Turkey a substantial political prize in the form of visa-free travel to Europe for its 80m citizens. Given the growing authoritarianism of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this proposal, which the European Commission unveiled on Wednesday, is controversial. But Europe’s pressing need to settle the migrant crisis means it has little choice but to sign this unpalatable deal.
Europe should hold its nose and sign up to the pact it has struck with Ankara. Whatever its faults, Turkey is at least meeting its side of the bargain, managing the numbers coming across the Aegean. After committing so many mistakes in this crisis, the EU has little alternative but to press on as best it can with its difficult eastern neighbour.
One does not grant visa access to 75-80 million Turkish citizens hoping to stop the flow of a million refugees.
The Financial Times says “the visas will be granted to Turks for three months and there is no reason to believe that large numbers will overstay their welcome.”
What? How the hell could the Financial Times possibly know?
Turn Back the Boats
The EU should thank its lucky stars that Erdogan will not uphold his end of the deal and gratefully cancel it.
Coupled with the cancellation (for which the EU can blame Erdogan), the EU should announce an Australia-type plan forcing back all boats, while arresting and prosecuting smugglers.
Call out the military to enforce the borders. That’s what Australia did.
For many years, Australia has been turning away boats filled with migrants. From a remove, this looks cold–hearted — a nation built by immigrants showing no compassion for others who want a better life. But it is precisely because Australia is an immigrant nation that it understands the situation: if you let the boats land, more people come. People traffickers will be encouraged, migrants will be swindled, and their bodies will wash up on your shores. Any country serious about immigration needs a more effective and robust approach.
Turning back the boats may be harder for the EU than it is for Australia, but it can be done.
Making a deal with the devil then letting the devil renege on a critical piece of his end is not a viable option.
Accepting Erdogan’s new demands would do four things, all unsavory.
- Open up Europe to 80 million Turkish citizens, all with an axe to grind.
- Make Erdogan the prince of Europe.
- Accept Erdogan’s role as dictator of Turkey.
- Subject the EU to further demands as Turkey could unleash the refugees at any point in the future.
Please pay particular attention to point number 4.
Here we are again. The devil wants still more concessions. This time, the devil demands the EU accept Erdogan as the price of Europe and dictator of Turkey.
This is a deal the EU would be crazy to accept.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock