New EU accession prospects for Turkey
In exchange for stepped-up border protection, the EU has offered Ankara to open a new chapter in its accession negotiations. Turkey is still a long way from fulfilling the requirements for EU membership, some commentators argue. Others see the offer as the only way to save the Schengen Agreement.
Accession still distant prospect for Ankara
Turkey still has a long way to go before it can join the EU, writes the liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat: "The EU has promised to speed up the membership negotiations with Turkey, which have proceeded at a snail's pace so far. The problem with this promise is that Turkey has moved further and further away from the membership criteria in recent years. If the human rights and democracy criteria are to be maintained in any way, today's Turkey has no place in the EU. If Turkey proceeds on its current path there won't be any reason to open the EU's doors to it in the future either."
Democratic Turkey would be welcome
The EU must now keep a close eye on Turkey, the liberal daily Sydsvenskan urges: "There is a clear risk that in its hurry to solve the refugee crisis, the EU will turn a blind eye to human rights violations and to the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession. That must not happen. Turkey should be welcome in the EU circle of partner countries - once it's mature enough. But that objective is still a long way off for a country that refuses to speak of the 1915 Armenian genocide, that has failed to find a solution to the conflict with the Kurdish PKK, and that ranks 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. The EU has learned its lesson from taking in a divided Cyprus in 2004 and from allowing Romania and Bulgaria to join in 2007 although they had not done their human rights and anti-corruption homework. The EU must have clearly defined limits."
The only way to save Schengen
Resuming membership talks with Turkey is the right way to save the Schengen agreement and correct the mistakes of the past, writes the liberal daily La Stampa: "The European strategy of managing (not resolving) the refugee crisis consists of strengthening the EU's borders to avoid having to rebuild internal borders. This is the only way to save Schengen. … Turkey's support is indispensable here. A month ago Brussels already promised it financial aid. The real novelty from Sunday is the willingness to resume the membership talks. Europe was largely responsible for Ankara's move towards Europe coming to a halt. Brussels let Turkey into the waiting room - and then left it there."
Turks don't even want to join EU any more
The promise of visa-free travel and the resumption of EU accession negotiations come too late for Turkey, the pro-government Islamic-conservative daily Yeni Şafak believes: "Ten years ago this would have caused a huge stir here, but today that's no longer the case. However, the EU still believes we'd die for visa-free access. Europe has adopted such an ill-advised, malicious and unsuccessful policy vis-à-vis the Islamic world and Turkey that it wouldn't even cause a sensation if the EU came right out and offered us membership. The Islamic world and Turkey have had enough of loving and worshipping Europe. But the EU still hasn't caught on to that fact."