EU and Turkey partner up in hard times

President Erdoğan has proposed a referendum in which Turks vote on whether to join the EU. He accused the Union of failing to keep the promises it made with the refugee deal. Former French president Sarkozy tweeted on the weekend that Turkish membership was unthinkable. Who is to blame for the pessimistic mood?

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Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Neither Erdoğan nor AKP want EU membership

Erdoğan and the AKP government are mainly to blame for the anti-Turkish mood in the EU, Hürriyet Daily News believes:

“The correct way for Ankara to respond to the no-to-Turkey campaign would have been to step on the gas in order to speed up the reform process at the beginning, democratizing and modernizing Turkey. ... A Turkey that had genuinely fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria, not just in appearance or on paper, and that has a growing and thriving economy, would have been much harder to reject on the basis of cultural or religious considerations which amount to thinly veiled racism. ... So why did Ankara not do this? The answer is clearer than ever today. It did not do this simply because neither Erdoğan nor the Justice and Development Party (AKP) want this membership. Their statements to the effect that Turkey remains committed to this target are simply dishonest.”

Karar (TR) /

EU far too critical

The conservative daily Karar sees the EU's incessant criticism of the Turkish president as unfair:

“Even if we view the criticism, whether from the EU institutions or the media, as justified to a certain extent, the strategies that are starting to go beyond criticism and turning President Erdoğan into a target are incompatible with reality. … We know that they don't want us in the EU. … Perhaps they want to take Turkey out of the democratic league and stick it in the bloc of kings and despots and base relations on that. Then the problem is solved because they don't have problems with undemocratic regimes. But our years of experience with democracy and the distance we have already gone on this issue are highly valuable. Alone the reforms the AKP government has implemented in the last 14 years are the most important proof that we won't remain outside the democratic league.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Merkel must voice two truths

Merkel travelled to Turkey on Sunday and talked to journalists, lawyers and human rights activists before a meeting with Erdoğan. The Süddeutsche Zeitung sees criticism of her Turkey policy as wrong:

“Those demanding that Europe call off the deal because of Erdoğan's behaviour are overlooking the fact that doing so would hit the refugees hardest. It is for them that billions of euros are being sent to Turkey and for some of them - admittedly absurdly few - the deal will secure controlled access to the EU rather than perilous journeys across the Mediterranean. The likelihood of Erdoğan pulling out of the deal and leaving the whole refugee problem to the human traffickers who do more harm than good to his state is very small. … When Merkel meets Erdoğan she must neither be meek out of fear for her refugee policy nor prove that she isn't open to blackmail. She should simply state the facts: the refugee deal is right and Erdoğan's treatment of his opponents is wrong.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Both sides need the deal

The Guardian sees the prospect of the refugee deal collapsing as intolerable:

“The thinking behind the EU-Turkey deal was that it was needed not only to alleviate a desperate humanitarian situation, but to reduce populist and xenophobic reactions throughout Europe. Time was of the essence. … Time was also short politically, with important votes due in several European countries, including the British referendum. … It appears unlikely Turkey will meet the end-of-June deadline for all conditions to be filled for visa-free travel. The hope among European officials is that Erdoğan will nevertheless avoid cancelling the deal, because of the political benefit he has drawn from it so far. Both sides, in spite of their obvious differences, need this arrangement to continue. A repetition of last year’s tragedies does not bear thinking about.”