Merkel makes concessions to Turkey
Visiting Istanbul on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Turkey financial assistance and accelerated visa-free travel provided the country cooperates more closely with the EU on the refugee crisis. Pressure at home and a lack of solidarity in the EU have left Merkel with no other alternative, commentators write. Others believe the Turkish head of state will use the situation to his advantage.
Deal with Ankara could be costly
Under more pressure on the domestic front than ever before, Merkel may be forced to make concessions to Turkey, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung comments: "Europe is experiencing the biggest wave of migration since the [second world] war. At its centre, as with the debt crisis, is Germany. In view of the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees the Germans states and local authorities are increasingly unable to cope and the people's frustration is growing. This frustration is directed first and foremost at Angela Merkel: this historic refugee crisis is becoming the great crisis of her chancellorship. … On Sunday Merkel got a taste of Ankara's expectations. They will include the resumption of talks on Turkey's EU membership, which is notoriously not one of Merkel's priorities. Conflicts of interests and political, moral and international law dilemmas are merging with each other. … How high will the price for Turkish cooperation be?"
Merkel forges ahead
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had no choice but to make overtures to Turkey, the business paper De Tijd comments: "As late as last August, the German chancellor was still the moral compass in the refugee crisis. ... Barely two months later, little is left of that. The terrible lack of solidarity in Europe, and above all from the former East Bloc countries, has allowed the crisis get completely out of control. ... Her attitude of generosity towards the refugees has now turned against her. It comes as no surprise that she has now decided to forge ahead. She did the same in the euro crisis. Now, however, she faces both the dissenters in Europe and opposition at home. Consequently she's chosen the cynical Machiavellian path: that of hard realism. She doesn't really have any alternative."
Europe must not leave Berlin on its own
Angela Merkel's mission in Turkey would be less complicated if she could rely on more support from the rest of Europe in the refugee crisis, the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny admonishes: "Turkey has no qualms about demanding a large sum of money for an agreement on the basis of which the refugees could be held back. That became clear a few days ago at the EU summit in Brussels. … Ideally, therefore, the Europeans should join forces and offer Merkel help in the form of free capacities for taking in refugees. And they should also reach a pan-European consensus to effectively counter Turkey's blackmail. Sadly it doesn't look like they will. The Czech politicians in particular are proving incorrigible, populist and stubborn. Merkel is all on her own."
Erdoğan exploiting the EU's problems
Erdoğan will exploit the refugee crisis for his own ends, the liberal online paper T24 writes commenting on Merkel's visit to Istanbul: "Now that Erdoğan has set aside the rule of law and basic rights and freedoms he faces the problem of how to escape the pressure from the West. Although he sometimes rails and curses it's clear he can't cope with that pressure. He sees the refugee crisis and the bribe money the EU is preparing to give him as his big chance. His condition is that the West stops its 'political persecution', or the pressure on him and the daily criticism in the Western media. He believes that the refugees are the West's worst nightmare and that the West will give him whatever he asks for. That is why he has made a demand that is particularly hard to fulfil."