The Agreement between Turkey and the EU on the refugees exchange is in peril. President Erdogan is refusing to stick to Brussels’ requirements concerning the visa-free regime, upsetting the months-long efforts of former Prime Minister Davutoglu who managed to obtain not only €6 billion for refugee care, but also visa-free travel and the speeding up of Turkey’s accession to the European Union.
Erdogan’s statement exhausted the patience of European officials, who for many months pretended not to see Erdogan support terrorists fighting in Syria, shut down opposition media, and conduct a war in the south-east of the country against the Kurds. Finally Europe could no longer pretend its neighbor’s human rights abuses were not happening.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Shultz, said that the Turkish Republic continues to move toward authoritarianism, while 77% of Germans said Angela Merkel should take a tougher stance with Erdogan.
It was clear from the very beginning that the Agreement on refugees was doomed, and not only because of the immorality of selling, purchasing or exchanging refugees. Erdogan’s refusal to carry out the agreements with Europe, which came on the heels of Davutoglu’s resignation, shows that the Turkish ’sultan’ is planning something, something for which he is ready to renounce European money or a visa-free regime. What is this about?
Syrian professionals who oppose Assad and sympathize with Erdogan will remain in Turkey and work for the Turkish economy. If they become citizens, they will have the vote and increase the President’s electorate.
The media reveals plans to locate Syrian refugees in the regions abandoned by Kurds fleeing the Turkish army. This will lead to the ‘Arabization’ of this region, taking the issue of Kurdish autonomy off the agenda. Some refugees may soon be sent to Europe again to organize a new migration crisis. One of Erdogan’s goals is to achieve direct personal rule through a presidential regime.
The ruling party rushed through a bill on the removal of parliamentary immunity, not having a majority to put this issue to a referendum. Now members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party can be subject to criminal prosecution on a charge of associating with terrorists. Those who vote for the referendum will take their place.
Angela Merkel has already started posing awkward questions to Erdogan about the democratic character of this law and its true intent. By raining down new refugees on Europe, the Turkish President will be able to blackmail European leaders and continue to usurp power at home.
Erdogan wants to become the implicit leader of Europe’s Muslims. Radical Islamists are infiltrating the EU among the refugees, and will doubtless organize terror attacks to foment clashes between local citizens and migrants.
This will help Europe’s far right parties to grow, forcing European leaders to tighten control and toughen their immigration policies. Then Erdogan will start an information campaign, playing the part of defender of the Muslims.
The question is, How can Europe respond to these challenges? The best response is to realize that neither Turkey and its regional allies, nor an overseas “Big Brother”, are interested in a stable Europe, and to combat the causes of the problem, not its results. For that, they need to activate cooperation with Russia, which is making every possible effort to stabilize the situation in Syria, and has always opposed interference in the affairs of the sovereign states of the region.
So far, we cannot count on this scenario because of the position of Europe’s leaders.