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After The Referendum
Another Big Step Toward the Turkey-EU Divorce

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on Tuesday that reintroduces a monitoring process for Turkey’s human rights progress for the first time since 2004. The resolution, which focuses on the purges and emergency legislation following the July 2016 coup attempt, calls on Turkey to:

38.1. lift the state of emergency as soon as possible;

38.2. in the meantime, halt the publication of emergency decree laws which bypass parliamentary procedures, unless strictly needed under the state of emergency law, and put an end to the collective dismissal of civil servants through emergency decree laws;

38.3. release all the detained parliamentarians and co-mayors pending trial;

38.4. release all the imprisoned journalists pending trial;

38.5. establish and launch the work of the Inquiry Commission on State of Emergency Measures to ensure an effective national judicial remedy for those dismissed through emergency decree laws;

38.6. ensure fair trials with respect for due procedural guarantees; [….]

Although PACE is not a body of the EU, the resolution makes Turkey’s failure to meet the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession quite clear. In what has now become a cliché of Turkish political discourse, an adviser to Erdogan has responded to the resolution by turning it back on against Europe saying: “This is a political operation. It is the EU countries that need monitoring.”

However formulaic the back and forth between Europe and Turkey may be, the resolution comes at a critical juncture for Turkey’s relationship with the West more generally. While President Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him on his referendum win, for Europe the referendum looks like it may be an end to the EU accession charade. The EU’s Ankara negotiator has called for an end to the long-standing talks, as have a host of European politicians. Erdogan, for his part, is still maintaining play-acting for now. In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday he claimed “There is not a single thing that we are not ready to do, the minute [the EU asks] for it. Whatever they wish, we do.”

While the Turkish rejection of the PACE resolution makes that claim plainly untrue, Turkey arguably has greater leverage over the EU than the EU has over Turkey. For the Turks, an end to accession would be an end to talks that they’ve known have been doomed for the better part of a decade and that had been at a nadir even before the referendum. For Europe, a breakdown with Turkey could mean the end of the EU-Turkey migrant deal and potentially a full-scale resumption of the refugee crisis. Turkey has already named visa-free travel as their price for maintaining the deal, but it seems likely that this is only the first round of the divorce proceedings between Turkey and Europe.

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  • Beauceron

    “If you want, we could open the way for 15,000 refugees that we don’t send each month and blow the mind of Europe.”

    — Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu

    “You did not keep your word. When 50,000 refugees were at the Kapıkule [Turkey-Bulgaria] border, you cried out. You started to say: ‘What will we do if Turkey opens border gates?’ If you go too far, the border gates will be opened…The European Union is not acting sincerely with Turkey. We have taken in 3 million refugees, whereas the EU’s only concern is keeping them out of its territory. If our demands are not met, readmissions will no longer be possible.”

    — Turkish President Recep Erdoğan
    Europe has no cards to play.
    They’ll do what Turkey tells them to do.
    Or maybe not. It strikes me as madness, but it does seem many Europeans want all of those migrants. That would, of course, mean Turkey has no cards to play.

    • Andrew Allison

      Let’s face it, Erdogan has turned his back on the EU. The onlypath for refugees from Turkey is through Greece, which has a rather short land border with Turkey. Close that and the sea routes and the Tucks get to suck up the refugees. Alternatively, if push came to shove the EU could, in exchange for some-or-all-of-the-never-to-be-repaid money loaned and more, turn Greece into a giant resettlement camp, i.e. a staging post for their return to Turkey and/or their point of departure to Turkey. Of course, the EU doesn’t (yet), have the stomach for such draconian measures but, given enough terrorist attacks, might.

  • Fat_Man

    Can we divorce them too?

    • Andrew Allison

      They’re already divorced; the question is whether/when the EU will acknowledge the fact.and what it will do about it.

      • Fat_Man

        We need to get our troops and our weapons out of the Incirlik airbase..

        • Andrew Allison

          Couldn’t agree more. Also the far, far more enjoying cushy billets in Europe.

  • I am not certain which body has done more harm to the ideals of Western democracy today, the European Union’s flawed policies or the Turkish government under Erdogan.

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