News & Politics

Madness: Amid Refugee Crisis, EU Willing to Fast-Track Turkish Membership

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a rally in Bayburt, Turkey, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool )

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is one happy man. The reason is that the European Union is set to give in to every single one of his country’s demands in order to do something about the refugee crisis.

The EU wants Turkey to stem the refugee flow into Europe by taking care of them in Turkey. In return, Turkey wants 3 billion euros (around $3.2 billion US) in extra aid, visa-free traveling for Turks in EU-countries, and a re-launch of EU-accession talks. In other words: Turkey demands fast-track membership:

“Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU,” Davutoğlu told reporters on arrival for the talks, in which EU leaders will offer Turkey cash, visa-free travel to Europe and re-launching of accession talks in exchange for Ankara’s help in stemming the flood of migrants to the EU.

“With EU leaders today we will be sharing the destiny of our continent, global challenges of the economic crisis as well as regional geopolitical challenges in front of us, including migration issues,” Davutoğlu said.

This is lunacy. Not only is Turkey currently involved in a serious crisis and trade war with Russia, the country’s authorities are also arresting journalists on a scale never seen before. At least not in a free and democratic country. A few days ago, two journalists of Cumhuriyet were arrested because they had the audacity to report on a truck filled with weapons that was traveling from Turkey to Syria. These weapons were in all likelihood going to radical Islamic groups fighting the Assad regime. When Cumhuriyet pointed that out, they were accused of “treason” and are now threatened with years imprisonment.

Another Turkish columnist has been told he faces up to five years and four months in prison for “insulting” President Erdogan. His “crime” was speaking out against the president’s foreign policy, especially with regards to Syria and the resulting refugee crisis.

In an op-ed entitled “Listen, grand man” written after the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian Kurdish refugee whose body washed ashore a Turkish beach, Özkök slammed Middle Eastern actors for turning the region into “the most brutal land in the world.”

Although Özkök did not mention anyone specifically, the article referred to a “dictator” who thought the country was the “property of his father.”

“Release your fingers that are clenched for the Rabia gesture… Unclench your fist clenched by your black politics and let that hands raise for prayer… Look, my friend, you are the murderer of that kid,” were among the sentences deemed insulting by the prosecutor’s office.

The indictment claimed Özkök’s writing “degraded” its collocutor and exceeded the limits of “acceptable criticism.”

Meanwhile, journalists critical of the government are told to hand in their press cards for an early renewal. When they do, they quickly find out that their cards are cancelled:

The Press Card Commission, which recently underwent significant changes after a new regulation was introduced by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, is forcing journalists known for their critical stance against the government to return their permanent press cards under the pretext of renewal, and then systematically canceling them without presenting a valid reason.

That’s bad, but it gets even worse. Last year, President Erdogan told Muslim Brotherhood leaders that they were welcome in Turkey when Qatar decided to deport them. The Muslim Brothers are a radical Islamic organization dedicated to islamizing the Middle East first, and the rest of the world after that. Many terrorist organizations — Al Qaeda and ISIS among them — are among the group’s many infamous and violent offshoots. These are the kind of people Erdogan welcomes into his country and, if Turkey joins the EU, the rest of Europe.

In other news, Turkey even admitted to treating wounded ISIS commanders in its hospitals.

It’s clear that the EU needs Erdogan to act against the tidal wave of Middle Eastern refugees, but he can be convinced to do so without fast-tracking his EU membership. He can be bought off and, if necessary, threatened. After all, the EU sends financial aid to Turkey every single year. If that’s cut off, Erdogan has a serious problem.

Re-opening EU-accessions talks with Turkey — fast-tracking them — is sheer madness. This country does not belong in Europe, at least not as long as Erdogan is its president.