Every day now it seems Turkey’s President Erdogan has something new to say about Europe, and it appears to be pushing the nation away from a close relationship just weeks ahead of a referendum on giving Erdogan more power.
Europe is being attacked lately for its attitude to the Turkish diaspora, and bans on Turkish political campaigning in the Netherlands and Germany on public order grounds, where police used violence to quell protests at the ban.
“If you continue this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. If you clear the way to this dangerous path, you will sustain the biggest damage. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”
Today’s chilling threat was just the latest made Europe’s way by an irate Erdogan.
A year ago Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement limiting the arrival of refugees into Europe. A year on and the deal hangs by a thread. The worse the crisis with Europe gets, the more threats Turkey makes about binning the accord.
Yesterday Erdogan once again underlined that holding Turkey hostage over its EU membership or anything else would not work.
“If you hit us, sorry to say, we will hit you back. The EU accession process or the refugee readmission agreement, this or that, they will not be able to threaten us with these anymore,” he warned.
In fact while the membership talks with Europe are stalled, following the deterioration in relations as Erdogan cracked down on the coup plotters of last July, this agreement remains the only lever Ankara can pull in its relationship with Brussels.
It is its last way of exercising pressure. However with nearly every statement Erdogan now appears bent on poisoning the relationship. No EU member likes to be called “nazis” which is how Erdogan has treated the Dutch and Germans.
“President Erdogan’s comments about Germany and the Netherlands are not allowed. We don’t want to be compared to Nazis,” said EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
Turks came out in Rotterdam to protest that they had not been able to meet their foreign minister, with some accusing Europe of hypocrisy by banning AK party rallies while allowing PKK marches, despite their being labelled a terrorist group by both Ankara and Brussels.
By Robert Hackwill
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