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Europe - Turkey: At odds

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Europe - Turkey: At odds

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Tensions between Ankara and Brussels are on the rise. Since the coup attempt, the EU has made daily demands on Turkey to act within the rule of law.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Europe of having double standards.

On Tuesday he said: “When in Paris there is a similar event and five or six people die everyone runs there and asks what happened and who did it. We have a coup against democracy in Turkey, a coup that caused 238 people to be martyred.Sadly until now, no one came to visit us. Let them come and see the Turkish Parliament, they should have come. Let them see in the state it is in. Our Parliament was bombarded and where was everyone?”

What is at stake?

Although heavily critical of the Turkish purges which have seen almost 20,000 people detained, Brussels needs Turkey for its refugee pact because the war in Syria has not subsided.

David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee said: “Countries like Greece both have to deal with the current wave of refugees who are here at the moment, about 40,000 to 50,000, but also ensure it’s in a position in case more people come later this year or next year.”

The blame game

Ankara blames Brussels for not living up to its end of the deal. In return for taking back refugees from Greece, Brussels promised intensive talks on Turkish EU membership, three billion euros in aid for Syrian refugee and visa liberalisation.

Since the purges began however, EU politicians are split on how to proceed.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel outlined his beliefs: “Europe should, under no circumstances be blackmailed. We have to consider the fact that a country on its way to bringing back the death penalty, is drastically distancing itself from Europe, so any negotiations on EU access are unnecessary.”

Elmar Brok from the European committee for foreign affairs said: “We have to differentiate between Erdogan’s inner politics, due to which Turkey’s accession to the EU is further away than ever, and the refugee pact which helps to fight against human traffickers and to support the three million Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey for three years now. To educate their children and to give them medical treatment. So what is so bad about that?”

What next?

Many EU politicians see Erdogan’s motivations for the purge as political opportunism, though on Wednesday high ranking official General Thorbjorn Jagland from the Council of Europe recognised the need for Turkey to deal with those behind the coup.

The stakes are extremely high. Should the EU give Erdogan a wide berth and protect the refugee pact or maintain criticism of the purge and risk its dissolution?

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