What can Merkel's visit to Ankara achieve?
While thousands of Syrians are still stranded on the Border with Turkey German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with the Turkish leadership to discuss the refugee crisis. But Turkey can't solve the problem for Europe, commentators stress, lamenting that the EU is no longer in a position to stand up to Ankara.
Europe must act on its own
Rather than relying on Ankara Europe must determine its own course of action in the refugee crisis, the centre-right daily Die Presse believes:
“Indispensable in this regard is efficient monitoring of the external border. In view of the open internal borders it would only be consistent for the EU to carry out this task jointly, rather than leaving it to Greece alone. Secondly, Europe must be more generous to Syria's neighbours, who are sheltering millions of refugees. ... Thirdly, if the EU wants to respect its ideals and international law it must continue to take in refugees, but in a controlled and measured way so as not to put excessive demands on its own societies. And fourthly the EU must learn to adopt an adequate security policy in the buffer zones to the Middle East. However that will take the longest. Merkel will have far less time to get a grip on the problem. With or without Turkey.”
EU has no strategy whatsoever
Angela Merkel's third visit to Turkey in four months shows just how planless the EU is in the refugee crisis, the liberal Internet paper Radikal contends:
“The EU has neither a strategy nor a policy for dealing with the refugees. All it wants is for the refugees to be kept in Turkey and prevented from reaching the EU. And it wants to achieve that goal with the promise of three billion euros in aid - which for now remains nothing more than a promise. ... The refugee crisis is of such significance for the EU and Germany that the EU leaders - and of course Merkel as well - have stopped even mentioning topics they formerly held so dear such as press freedom and the independence of the judiciary. All for fear of angering Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Moral authority gambled away
Europe will all but stop criticising human rights abuses in Turkey, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk believes:
“Merkel's latest visit to Ankara was the best example of this. Clear words on human rights abuses were absent. The EU got itself into this situation. A continent that is unable to agree on the fair distribution of people fleeing bombs can hardly lecture a country that is sheltering three million refugees on human rights. And nor is the EU in a position to dictate rules to Ankara regarding the Aleppo refugees. It would be extremely hypocritical of Europe to recommend that Turkey open its borders while at the same time sealing its own. The example of Turkey illustrates how the Nobel Peace Prize winner is in the process of losing its moral clout.”
Athens clearly has nothing more to say
Athens is being completely ignored, complains the liberal online paper To Vima after Merkel's visit to Turkey:
“Now Greece is losing out also as regards sovereignty over its external borders. … Our 'friend and ally' Germany and our other, even better 'friend' and even closer 'ally' Turkey are sidestepping Athens and making bilateral decisions for resolving the refugee problem. … There can be no doubt that after the refugees the next victim will be Greece. Our country will 'drown' somewhere in the Aegean, which will end up under a form of multinational rule with the Germans and the Turks in the leading role, and on the borders of the Republic of Macedonia where the leading European countries will seal themselves off from Greece. Does Greece actually exist anymore?”