|Translation: The EU Negotiates.|
The sight of Europe’s leaders kowtowing to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was sickening. (TheGuardian).
But all this is nothing compared to the strength of the hand Erdoğan has yet to play. With failed or failing states now in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, the more Turkish democracy fails, the more the west has to support him. And the more the European Commission, in particular, hangs on to the conceit that Turkey will one day join the EU, the more it strengthens forces in Europe who want to leave the union altogether.
Transcripts leaked to a Greek website last month appeared to show Erdoğan overtly threatening Europe with an uncontrolled flood of refugees unless he is given money and rapid accession to the EU. Although they were given credence by some news agencies, the transcripts have the ring of black propaganda of the kind Erdoğan’s newest enemy, the Russian secret service, is adept at producing.
Real or fabricated, the tragedy is that they cannot be far from the truth: Europe is already turning a blind eye to the erosion of democracy, to collusion with people traffickers, and to military action against civilians.
What happens next must be done calmly and proportionately.
The citizens of the EU have a right, first of all, to demand honesty from their own governments, and the commission itself. The EC’s “progress report” in November was an exercise in hypocrisy: while noting the slide to despotism, censorship and brutality, the report praised Turkey for its economic progress. Imagine what the same rapporteurs might have made of an accession request by Mussolini’s Italy.
The critical question is not, as the racists of eastern Europe ask, “Can 75 million Muslims join Europe?”
It is: can a state so fundamentally in breach of the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership remain in any kind of accession process?The answer must clearly be no – and once Erdoğan is told so, the EU has a duty to offer a programme of support to the secular democratic forces that need to come to power in order for accession talks to be resumed.The commission – which had no problem telling Greeks which way to vote in July 2015 – would surely have no problem supporting democratic parties against repressive ones in Turkey. Read the full story here.