News & Politics

Angela Merkel Finally Stands Up to Erdogan on Visa-Free Entry

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, talks as Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens during a roundtable meeting on "Political Leadership to Prevent and End Conflicts" at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Monday, May 23, 2016. World leaders and representatives of humanitarian organisations from across the globe converge in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016 for the first World Humanitarian Summit, focused on how to reform a system many judge broken. (Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu, Pool Photo via AP)

I thought I’d never see the day.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel actually stood up to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today, telling him that Turkey must fulfill every single one of the EU’s conditions to secure visa-free traveling:

Speaking after meeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday, Mrs Merkel also expressed concern about a move to strip legislators of their immunity from prosecution.

But she underlined her commitment to an EU-Turkey deal aimed at stemming Europe’s migrant influx amid rising tensions with Ankara.

As part of that agreement, the EU planned to accelerate introduction of visa-free entry for Turks. Turkey has fulfilled most of 72 conditions but its refusal to revise anti-terror laws has emerged as a stumbling block.

Mrs Merkel told German media she made clear that “we need the fulfilment of all points”.

As usual in today’s Turkey, Ankara immediately struck back, accusing the EU of having a “double standard.” Economic adviser and Erdoğan fanboy Yiğit Bulut even threatened that his country would bail on its Customs Union agreement with the EU:

All sorts of agreements can be suspended, including the Customs Union agreement. All ties with the EU can be revised.

It’s likely that Merkel will eventually give Erdoğan whatever he wants (read: demands), but at least she’s resisting him for the moment. That’s a positive sign.

Not that she’ll follow through on it, but hey — sometimes you’ve got to start small and celebrate every “victory,” no matter how small.