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Merkel's Deal with 'Angry man of Europe' Turkey in Danger of Collapse. (Spiegel).
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was standing on a stage in Ankara raging against the European Union. "Since when are you controlling Turkey?" he demanded. "Who gave you the order?" He then accused Brussels of dividing his country. "Do you think we don't know that?" It sounded as though he was laying the groundwork for a break with Europe.
no one aside from the German chancellor appears to have much interest in the agreement anymore. Erdogan certainly doesn't: He does not want to make any concessions on his country's expansive anti-terror laws, the reform of which is one of a long list of conditions Turkey must meet before the EU will grant visa freedoms. The Europeans at large, wary of selling out their values to the autocrat in Ankara, are also deeply skeptical. And in Germany, Merkel's junior coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), have seized on the deal as a way to finally score some much needed political points against the powerful chancellor. Even within Merkel's own conservatives, many are seeing the troubles the deal is facing as an opportunity to break with the chancellor's disliked refugee policies.
The SPD, which has thus far supported Merkel and consistently argued that Turkey's path into the EU should be kept open, is now increasingly turning its back on the chancellor. At a joint breakfast attended by SPD government ministers on Wednesday morning at the Economics Ministry, one of those present made a plea for a more aggressive position when it comes to Turkey and the chancellor. "It's Merkel's thing and it has to remain her thing."
Horst Seehofer, head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to the CDU, is also taking advantage of Merkel's precarious position. "I was always skeptical as to whether the deal would work," he says. "The most recent developments have not served to reduce that skepticism." The situation, he adds, "is becoming extreme."
Manfred Weber of the CSU, who is floor leader of the center-right European People's Party, has threatened to lift Turkey's privileged access to the European market and the simplified visa application process available to Turkish businesspeople. "These things are not automatic. If President Erdogan continues to threaten us and bombard us with insults, then we'll find ourselves at a dead-end," says Weber. "Europe is not dependent on Turkey."
Currently, officials are looking into whether the results hoped for from a change to Turkey's anti-terror laws -- the protection of Kurds, opposition parliamentarians and journalists -- can be achieved in a different way. If they can, that would be a path worthy of discussion, say EU diplomats.
EU negotiators are paying particularly close attention to a constitutional amendment that the Turkish parliament intends to pass next week. The change would make it possible to lift the parliamentary immunity enjoyed by Turkish lawmakers and it is feared that such a change could disproportionately affect Kurdish parliamentarians. "Were that to come, it would have the flavor of a coup d'état," says a Brussels source.
The tone between Ankara and Berlin is likely to worsen even further on June 2, when the German parliament intends to pass a resolution commemorating the 1915 genocide carried out by Turkey on the Armenians.Out of consideration for the sensitive negotiations with the government in Ankara, coalition parliamentarians opted not to pursue such a resolution last year. But now, with Erdogan not showing much interest in de-escalation, Merkel's conservatives along with the SPD want to pass the bill in three weeks' time. The draft resolution speaks clearly of "genocide" and of "planned expulsion and destruction."
Germany's Foreign Ministry is certain that Ankara will summon the German ambassador to Turkey on the same day the resolution is passed. Hmmm.....Expect Erdo to go ballistic on June the second. Read the full story here.