EU divided over Turkey

The EU states have unanimously condemned the attacks in Istanbul, but they are at odds on the matter of Turkey's EU accession talks. At a meeting in Brussels the foreign ministers resolved not to open a new chapter of the negotiations for the time being. Austria, however, defied the other states, calling for formal steps to freeze the talks completely and refusing to go along with the resolution. What approach should the EU adopt vis-à-vis Ankara?

Open/close all quotes
Der Standard (AT) /

Kurz isolating Austria with Turkey criticism

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has refused to endorse the summit's declaration on the grounds that it doesn't go far enough. Der Standard is not sparing with its criticism:

“What a grand gesture! It may score him points with the Eurosceptics and Turkophobes. Nevertheless this was his first truly grave mistake as foreign minister. As important - and correct - as his criticism of the Turkish leaders and rights abuses in Ankara may be, it has borne no fruit since July. Austria is completely isolated. What's more, the negotiations with Turkey won't be 'frozen'; they're already 'on hold'. As EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn has rightly said: Vienna's obsession is 'an artificial debate'.”

Star (TR) /

Turkey and West united in grief

The terrorists haven't been able to drive a wedge between the West and Turkey with the attacks, the pro-government daily Star comments:

“Right after the terrorist attacks and in contrast to what happened after the coup attempt, many messages of condolence and condemnations began pouring in from abroad. Because they are not always forthcoming, these statements have a certain value. Many of the declarations contain the message that the sender sees what was done to Turkey also as an attack against himself. This implies that in no way do they approve of the attack of December 10, and that in particular in this respect the West stands by Turkey and its citizens. … In other words: if the goal of the attack was to put additional pressure on Turkey's already strained relations with other countries, it achieved precisely the opposite.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Time to be realistic

After the failed coup and the terror attacks the West's focus only on how much of a dictator President Erdoğan has become testifies to its bias, Der Tagesspiegel writes:

“Although Europe's metropolis have dutifully condemned the attacks, their criticism of Erdoğan's defensive reaction has been far more vehement according to the motto: Terror? Bad. War on terror? Even worse. Yet a minimum of fairness requires them to keep sight of both things: the crime and the government's ensuing reaction. … It is time to be realistic once more. Europe needs Turkey because of the refugees. Turkey needs Europe to have a goal for its development. The AKP as a model for the Maghreb states and the Middle East? That's over. The EU membership talks have also effectively come to an end. Neither side believes in a happy ending in the foreseeable future. So they must look for alternatives, a customs union or close ties like those with non-EU member Norway.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Don't be too lenient vis-à-vis Ankara

Europe must stand up to Ankara - for the sake of the Turks, Aftonbladet demands:

“In the long term Erdoğan's anti-European rhetoric and his public disdain for EU values like democracy, press freedom and human rights will become more and more of a problem. Under Erdoğan Turkey is becoming increasingly 'Putinised' and there is no end to this process in sight. Right along the eastern borders of the EU, from Moscow to Ankara, liberal democracy is increasingly under attack. But Europe must continue to make demands on Turkey, the people there deserve their freedom. And by offering a home to journalists, dissidents and others who are forced to flee we can keep the hope alive that one day the regime will collapse.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Europe must be tougher on PKK

Europe has given the PKK too much leeway - and that must change at the very latest after the brutal terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Hürriyet Daily News demands:

“It is true that Turkey should be handling its Kurdish problem much more sensibly. The fact that this is not happening though does not give license to any government or institution in Europe to be lenient toward a group that kills indiscriminately the way it did in Istanbul over the weekend. Many countries in Europe openly allow the PKK to benefit from European law to promote their propaganda with impunity, collect funds ... and recruit new militants for its campaign of terrorism in Turkey. ... If there are those who believe that they can keep Ankara at bay in this way, or that they can protect themselves from PKK attacks on their territory by turning a blind eye to this group, they are playing a dangerous game. Using terrorist groups as covert instruments of policy will not benefit anyone in the end.”

Hämeen Sanomat (FI) /

Turning into a police state

The arrests of 200 HDP politicians after the attacks on Saturday night once again show just how desolate the situation in Turkey is, Hämeen Sanomat laments:

“The Turkish government now has another justification for reprisals which will no doubt also hurt innocent citizens. At the same time Turkey is increasingly becoming a police state. The situation is desperate: Turkey has moved further and further away from the path of Western integration. ... The Turkish example shows that a society in which there is only one truth can be created in a relatively short period of time when the conditions are favourable. ... Next year will no doubt bring further bad news from Turkey. No doubt the country will reintroduce the death penalty and the EU accession talks will collapse once and for all.”