EU Parliament losing patience with Turkey

After the European Parliament's vote in favour of freezing EU membership talks with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to end the refugee deal. What consequences will the row have for relations between Ankara and the EU?

Open/close all quotes
Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Soon there will also be Turkish refugees

Erdoğan will carry out his threat, the Frankfurter Rundschau fears:

“The idea that diplomacy has something to do with an educated way of expressing oneself must date back to another era. For some time now governments have grown accustomed to hurling abuse at each other. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's threat that he will open his borders to the west for refugees must be seen as yet another attempt to stir up popular outrage at any form of criticism. ... Relations with Turkey remain damaged. Germany and the EU must accept that the refugee agreement won't last much longer. The Tartar from the Bosporus sees this as just punishment for a Union that has always kept Turkey at a distance. Turkish society will suffer most. The number of refugees will rise. Among those fleeing the country there will also be Turks hard hit by economic woes and political despair.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

West is the wrong bogeyman

The rift has deepened for years as a result of the Turks' mistaken understanding of the EU, Hürriyet Daily News comments:

“The West has never been loved or hated for its values, but for its power, and the resentment toward the West has always been a reflection of discontent concerning its power and reflections of that power upon others. ... The real problem is that the majority in Turkey and elsewhere have come to perceive the so-called 'Western values' of democracy, human rights and freedoms as Western tools to weaken them. It is a problem which stems from the failure to acknowledge that it is in the interest of our non-Western societies to embrace such values to achieve peaceful and prosperous societies. ... This is also true for the Islamist rulers of Turkey; that is why they have turned against the EU and the West in general. They never considered the fact that they managed to get enough power 'to rule' but failed 'to govern' a complicated society like Turkey.”

Kaleva (FI) /

Don't end talks

Notwithstanding the problems between the EU and Turkey the talks should not be suspended, Kaleva warns:

“For years the membership talks went on without any noticeable progress being made. In the EU people were already wondering how serious Turkey was about joining the Union. And in Turkey too, people question whether the EU is serious about the negotiations. But the EU and Turkey depend on each other [on the refugee issue]. Breaking off the talks after decades of moving closer to each other would be a bitter setback. … The violations of human rights in Turkey are condemnable. But suspending the EU accession talks would nonetheless be counterproductive. The talks must be continued. What should be considered is whether the relationship could be developed on a basis other than the eternal bait of EU membership.”

Ouest-France (FR) /

Erdoğan turning his back on Europe?

Breaking with Turkey over the MEPs' demands could have dire repercussions, Ouest France predicts:

“Turning one's back on Erdoğan would mean running the risk of the gatekeeper taking a more relaxed attitude to the flood of refugees. That worries both Berlin and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini. Moreover, the Turkish president is planning a referendum on joining the EU unless a signal comes from Brussels. Such a vote would have the advantage of freeing EU-Ankara relations from the illusion of a possible accession. As Erdoğan has said, it could allow Turkey to move closer to Moscow and Beijing. ... Turkey is an important player regarding developments in Iraq and Syria. And Erdoğan only cares about one thing: tightening his grip on power.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

MEPs have learned nothing from history

The European Parliament's vote will backfire, Hürriyet believes:

“This attempt to punish the Turkish government's rights and freedoms also injures the pride of the Turkish people. … If the EU Parliament members think they can bring President Erdoğan and the AKP government back in line with this tack - although it is unclear precisely what that line is supposed to be in today's Europe - they are very much mistaken. Erdoğan said even before the decision was taken that it would be of no consequence. … If the MEPs believe they can push the Turkish people to rise up against their government by freezing the negotiations, they have learned nothing from past experience. The people's anger will turn against them.”

Sme (SK) /

Parliament driving EU to suicide

The European Parliament's decision on Turkey is incomprehensible, Sme writes:

“The vote is an expression of incompetence on the big global issues. There is no need for long debates about the fact that Turkey doesn't fulfil even the minimal requirements for a candidate for accession. Even by 2050 the country won't be given membership. Everyone knows that apart from this parliament. … And secondly, the vote is a game of Russian roulette with Europe because the deal with Erdoğan is the only functioning instrument against destabilising migration. Erdoğan is unpredictable. If he cancels the deal with Merkel the EU Parliament will have done nothing less than assist Europe's suicide.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Ankara has other partners

The Turkish president won't care at all if the EU accession talks are suspended, Adevărul predicts:

“Erdoğan clearly doesn't care what the Europeans say and is extremely irritated by Brussels' 'condescending' attitude towards his country, given that Turkey has now been negotiating its accession to the EU for eleven years. What power base is he relying on? It's quite simple. The consensus is that he has come up with an answer that is more than reassuring to his old desire to find a partner other than the EU. The Turkish president said repeatedly: 'Why shouldn't Turkey become a member of the Shanghai Five [led by China and Russia now called the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation]?' … The decisive question is how well prepared the European leaders would be if Turkey does take the spectacular step of joining this group.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Betrayal of millions of Turks

Breaking off the negotiations would mean betraying all the freedom-loving people in the country, Der Tagesspiegel chides:

“In definitively excluding Turkey from Europe, the EU would deal a blow to millions of Turks who look to Europe with admiration. It would dash their hopes of remaining part of an enlightened world region governed by humanist values, which they feel they belong to today. And finally it would give Erdoğan the excuse he needs to explain away Turkey's growing economic problems. He would then blame the EU for them, rather than his own erratic foreign and military policies which are driven by nothing more than a desire for revenge.”

Star (TR) /

The West doesn't understand Erdoğan

Erdoğan announced on Wednesday that the EU Parliament's decision had no significance for his country. The West fails to see that Erdoğan is creating a new world of his own, the pro-government daily Star comments:

“This new world will be an Islamic world. It's clear that the people on the streets of this world will listen to Erdoğan with open ears. Because this world has had enough of always being the victim. Turkey has considered the relationship with the West as important also under Erdoğan's rule . ... But if the West wants Islam to remain in its current half-open, half-hidden colonial status, this is no longer tolerable. Some time ago a 'resurrection' began in this region, and Tayyip Erdoğan is its spokesman. The West will be forced to develop a more humane style of communication. This region won't allow it to force Tayyip Erdoğan to his knees.”