Attack on tourists in Istanbul

At least ten people, most of them tourists, died in a suicide attack near Istanbul's Hagia Sophia museum on Tuesday. The Turkish government has blamed the IS for the bombing. Europe's press discusses the causes and potential consequences of the attack.

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Zaman (TR) /

Timing and target perfectly chosen

The attack deals a harsh blow to tourism in Turkey, the Islamic-conservative daily Zaman believes:

“If the attack was aimed at Turkey's tourism industry, not only the target but also the time of the attack were well chosen. January and February are the months in which Germans - and Europeans in general - book their holidays. Hundreds of thousands of people will certainly reconsider their plans to visit Turkey. The fact that Germans were targeted could be an indication that the aim was to deal a severe blow to the tourism sector. For years Germans have made up the largest group of visitors to Turkey. Perhaps it is also no coincidence that this attack came just a few weeks after Russia's boycott of Turkey began.”

Večer (SI) /

Erdoğan cornered

The attack in Istanbul is a further blow for the Turkish economy, the liberal daily Večer believes:

“The country's tourism industry is already in a severe crisis now that Russia has practically forbidden its population from holidaying on the Turkish coast. Since the Russian fighter jet was shot down, Moscow's economic sanctions have hit Turkey hard. The Turkish economy is already stagnating and it's clear that Erdoğan has been pushed into a corner. Even the three billion euros he'll receive for keeping the refugees that are flooding into Europe on Turkish soil won't help. Erdoğan must decide who are his enemies and who are his allies: the IS or the developed world? And he must decide quickly. Sitting between two stools could be fatal for Turkey.”

Avvenire (IT) /

The main problem is Erdoğan

Just a few hours after the attack in Istanbul Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that it was carried out by a "suicide bomber of Syrian origin". But Erdoğan himself bears most of the blame, the Catholic daily Avvenire argues

“It is no mere coincidence that the first measure Erdoğan adopted just a few minutes after the attack was a news blackout. This is a further example of the opacity of a regime that makes no secret of the fact that it couldn't care less about transparency or democracy and that is demanding a humiliating tax on refugees from the EU. … Erdoğan has done all he can to worsen the already confused situation in the region. Turkey could have put out the fire that is raging in the region, but instead it has become one of the most dangerous fire-raisers. In many seats of government people are muttering what has long been an open secret: that the main problem is sultan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

El País (ES) /

Europe must show solidarity with Ankara

Regardless of what it thinks about Turkey's domestic affairs, when it comes to foreign affairs Europe must back Turkey unequivocally, the centre-left daily El País admonishes:

“Islamist terror is affecting a country that plays a key role in the struggle against the Islamic State, a country which on top of that is also caught up in a deep conflict with its strongest minority, the Kurds, and in a controversy over the new policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But neither of these two latter circumstances should undermine in the least support for Ankara in a struggle in which the Turks play a leading role. The unequivocal message to the IS must be that each new attack, no matter how painful its impact, will only serve to harden the resolve to fight it. And therefore that any assassinations the IS carries out on Turkish soil will only have the effect - clearly undesired by the jihadists - of reinforcing international cooperation with Ankara.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Turkey must question its Syria policy

After the attack in Istanbul Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that such terrorism was the result of the power vacuum and the civil war in Syria. But how much responsibility does his own government bear for the situation, the conservative daily Milliyet asks:

“Which powers and states brought about the power vacuum? What stance did your government adopt when it arose? Does your government share responsibility with the West for how the civil war developed and escalated to the current level? If you could turn back the clock, would you once again support the Syrian opposition? Did you take sides in the Syrian civil war, which as you have said is the biggest source of terror? All of these unanswered questions should have been asked yesterday when the first wrong steps were being taken. Unfortunately no one can hear them any more, what with all the noise from the explosions.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Terror in Turkey no stroke of fate

The Turkish government has ignored the terrorist threat posed by returning IS fighters and supporters, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises:

“Once again the Turkish government must answer questions about what it is doing about the danger represented by IS fighters and supporters who are returning to the country. It should also reflect on whether it hasn't got its priorities wrong in the 'war on terror'. For far too long Erdoğan backed jihadist troops in Syria and more than once he made it clear that he saw the PKK and its Syrian branch rather than the IS as the biggest threat. Has he understood what the consequences are for his own country's security, or does he really see the attack in Istanbul as just a stroke of fate? If the government were to put even half as much energy into fighting the IS as it does into the conflict in Turkey's Kurdish southeast the IS wouldn't be having such an easy job of it.”