Erdoğan and EU haggle over refugee policy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet with EU representatives in Brussels today to negotiate a joint strategy for the refugee crisis. Why should Turkey help an EU that has neglected its interests for years, some commentators ask. Others find it unacceptable that the EU has now come begging at Erdoğan's door.
Why should Ankara help the EU?
The EU has been stalling on EU membership for Turkey for ten years now, the liberal daily Jutarnji List points out, and asks why the country should help out in the refugee crisis under these circumstances: "Is Turkey so willing to help the same EU that has been keeping its distance on the official membership talks? Even [President] Erdoğan's biggest critics say the EU has been dishonest and unfair with Turkey and that it would be better to say frankly that EU membership is impossible. … Turkey began membership talks exactly ten years ago, on the same day as Croatia, and even an hour before us. But Croatia has been an EU member for two and a half years now while Turkey has barely moved forward. … It's difficult to find a single influential diplomat who really believes in Turkey's membership. But no one has the courage to end the process and so the charade goes on."
Erdoğan as Europe's dubious saviour
The timing of the EU's knock on Turkey's door couldn't be better for the Turkish president, writes the centre-left daily Der Standard. "Four weeks before fresh parliamentary elections in Turkey that are supposed to correct the bad results of the ruling party, Tayyip Erdoğan is paying a visit to Brussels. He wants visa exemption for Turks, new chapters to be opened in the membership talks, and money. But above all he wants pictures for the Turkish media: Erdoğan, Europe's saviour. … This brew of populism and political failure is difficult to digest. Even if Erdoğan wanted to he can't keep over two million refugees imprisoned in his country. The EU governments have long ignored Turkey's refugee problem. But Erdoğan didn't want help either. Brussels is courting his favour now that his critics are being silenced more than ever and civil war-like conditions prevail in south-eastern Turkey."
EU and Turkey need each other
Ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Brussels the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger urges the EU to make overtures to Turkey: "The naysayers always said EU membership for Turkey would be the end of a political union, that the European project would then be dead. Really? The internal conflicts are part of Turkey's identity. But that is its true advantage, the reason why precisely Turkey deserves a place in the community as part of an outward-looking Europe. However, if the EU lets Turkey join it can't keep acting as if the Muslim world has nothing to do with it. The threat of the IS and the refugee crisis prove the contrary anyway. And the sultan-like head of state cannot be a reason to keep Turkey at arm's length. Erdoğan's sun is setting. Perhaps he still has the strength for a last stab at renewal. Only that can secure his power. After him Turkey will need the EU more than ever."