Break off EU membersip talks with Turkey?

In view of Erdoğan's reaction to the failed coup Austrian chancellor Christian Kern has called for the EU membership talks with Turkey to be broken off. An end to the negotiations would be counterproductive, some commentators warn. Others lament that the EU is not putting serious thought into sanctions against Ankara.

Open/close all quotes (DE) /

Erdoğan needs a corrective

The EU accession negotiations with Turkey must be stepped up rather than suspended, urges:

“No one in the EU should have an interest in Turkey drifting in the direction of the Middle East politically and socially. The EU's goal must be a stable and democratic Turkey. Whether President Erdoğan is the right man for that job is questionable from a Western point of view. But the 62-year-old is the democratically elected head of state, and his popular approval and backing is now higher than ever. ... President Erdoğan needs a corrective in his quest for power. In Turkey such a corrective is for the most part lacking. The media have largely been trimmed to suit the Erdoğan line, the opposition is howling with the wolves or stigmatised. Breaking off the accession negotiations would only speed up the transition to a Turkish-style autocracy.”

Právo (CZ) /

Strong words with nothing to back them up

The EU is not showing enough resolve in reaction to the political developments in Ankara, Právo believes:

“Up to now they have been playing diplomatic poker. Quick decisions are being delayed by the mutual dependency, both economic and in security policy. Nothing of substance is behind the façade of strong words directed at Ankara. There is no discussion about sanctions or embargoes or even political resolutions against the violation of human rights of the type we have seen taken against other countries. The EU is applying double standards here. … But it is caught in a dilemma to some extent. A break with Turkey would torpedo the refugee deal. And that would have fatal consequences for security policy.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Dangerous split between Brussels and Ankara

Falling out with Turkey would have far-reaching geopolitical repercussions, journalist Cristian Unteanu fears commenting in his blog with Adevărul on Kern's statements:

“Firstly it could lead to Turkey releasing the 'brake' it has on the three million refugees currently on its territory. And there's another million people on the border between Syria and Turkey waiting to be allowed to enter the country. A nightmare. … Another consequence could be that Turkey quickly reorients its foreign policy positions and is tempted to further consolidate its status as a partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In the event of a break between Ankara and Brussels it is very likely that the organisation would swiftly welcome Turkey as a full member. … That would radically change the geopolitical situation in our region - lastingly and in all areas.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Rebels in Vienna break another taboo

Kern's call for the EU accession talks with Turkey to be broken off breaks with a taboo, Mladá fronta dnes points out:

“The Austrian proposal is the harshest reaction so far from the mouth of a European politician to the purges ordered by Turkey's President Erdoğan in the aftermath of the failed coup. But it is also an answer to the ultimatum issued by Erdoğan's foreign minister according to which the refugee deal will be cancelled if Turkey isn't given visa-free travel by the end of October - regardless of whether Ankara fulfils the conditions for this or not. … Austria already broke a European taboo over the refugee issue when Foreign Minister Kurz recommended introducing the Australian model for dealing with the refugees. One doesn't expect such things from Austria - it's more the kind of thing we expect from the Visegrád states. But Austria, unlike them, is a destination for refugees. And the Turks have stood on Vienna's doorstep on several occasions.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Finding its way back to peace and the rule of law

Turkey needs Europe now more than ever, the Süddeutsche Zeitung stresses:

“This could indeed be the beginning of the end for a historic, highly ambitious attempt at rapprochement. Because if there is a basic feeling in Europe right now it's this: that Turkey does not belong in the EU, its government is too authoritarian, the country is too divided, too unpredictable. … This is a tragedy because now is the time when Turkey most needs help from Europe. All the trials against alleged and genuine putschists must be watched by European observers. European human rights organisations must demand access to prisons and police station cells. Only if a clear picture emerges of what happened on July 15 and afterwards in Turkey can the country find its way back to peace and the rule of law at some point.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Turkey should distance itself from the EU

Since the failed coup, if not before, it has become clear that Turkey must not engage in any more negotiations with the EU, the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak comments:

“Is there anyone in the Turkish public who still supports the EU? … The EU is no longer a common goal for Turkey but a threat. An external threat that is trying to turn Turkey into another Egypt. Europe, which isn't even capable of protecting its own integrity, has adopted a shameful position since July 15 and is trying to destabilise and even disintegrate Turkey. … The EU and Turkey no longer share any values, their bond of trust has been broken. Anyone who looks at the hostile attitude towards Turkey in Germany and Austria will see that there can be no shared future.”