The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met the Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday in St. Petersburg to improve their relationships after the sanctions that Russia imposed on tourism and Turkish exports due to the deadly air fighter incident that took place last November, when Turkey took down a Russian fighter.
Turkey’s approach towards a revival of a strong ally looks strategically planned a few weeks after the failed coup attempt while the U.S. and EU seem to be turning their back against the Turkish president. While Turkey looks quite determined in terms of not amending its terrorism laws, it is somewhat imminent that the EU-Turkey migration deal will not last for long.
The latter though is definitely going to cause serious trouble to the European Union which will have to face the thousands of immigrants fleeing from Turkey in an attempt to pursue a better life.
Will Turkey regain Russia’s trust?
The meeting which was held yesterday signified a reboot of the relationships between the two countries. Turkey urgently needs a powerful ally in order to try to substitute its Western friends. More specifically, president Erdogan mentioned: “Both parties are determined to improve bilateral relations and it is my assumption that the communities of both countries have this expectation of us.”
It is in both countries’ interest to seek a strong relationship in view of the common great economic benefit. The energy infrastructure projects such as Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and a major natural gas pipeline from southern Russia to Turkey are highly anticipated and meant to boost economic growth. What is more, the opening of several Russian charter flights that were previously banned will increase tourism in Turkey.
Turkey-U.S. relations in test over Gulen’s extradition
The Turkish president said that the U.S. is risking the relationship of both countries by not handing over Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric, who is accused of having masterminded the coup of July 15. In addition to that, the Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag underscored the importance of Gulen’s extradition last Monday by saying: “If the US does not deliver (him), they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist”.
However, Washington stated that is not going to extradite Gulen unless there is clear evidence of his involvement in the coup attempt; something that the Turkish government has not yet managed to do according to Gulen’s lawyers. Thus, the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. seems quite fragile at the moment when nearly 70,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education system of Turkey have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation after the July 15 coup attempt.
EU-Turkey deal is bound to fail
The migration deal which was signed between the EU and Turkey last March is on the very edge of been cancelled. Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said yesterday that Turkey will not follow the agreement unless the EU rethinks the visa-free travel for Turks and sets a specific date. More in detail, Celik stated that it is the European security which will be at risk if the Turkish terrorism laws are modified; a term that the EU has set as a prerequisite for the visa deliberations.
Erdogan has expressed also his complaints regarding the “not sincere behavior” of the EU on the visa waivers for the Turkish citizens. The Turkish president said: “The European Union is not behaving in a sincere manner with Turkey. If our demands are not satisfied then the readmissions will no longer be possible.”
On the EU side, the Danish government party underlined on Tuesday that Europe has to put a stop to the accession negotiations with Turkey because of its president’s support to death penalty. Similarly, a poll showed that 52% of Germans do not want the migrant deal to continue and two thirds of the surveyed people are against EU accession talks. This comes only a few days after Austria’s foreign minister stated that his country would use its veto to block further talks on Turkish membership of the European Union.
Therefore, it is clear that the migration deal between the EU and Turkey is not going to last as Turkey is not willing to comply with the European standards and the EU is forced to not going to turn a blind eye on this despite all the good will to do so.
Europeans are not satisfied
The latest Eurobarometer poll commissioned by the European Parliament revealed that the majority of the European citizens (74%) believe that the EU has to do more to tackle the migration crisis while two out of three people claim that the bloc’s measures are insufficient.
It seems that there is a fundamental problem which causes serious concerns about the next day in case Turkey drops the deal. Thousands of migrants will flood Greece and Italy overnight, where the refugees will have to accommodated in additional and larger hotspots with the hope that they will pass through northern Europe at some point.
The problem though is that the Balkan route is firmly closed, no EU member state seems willing to open its doors to more refugees. This will mean that if the EU – Turkey deal collapses, hundreds of thousands of refugees will be forced to live and grow their families in the poor and economically ravaged south, which is technically impossible.
A sudden escalation of the migration crisis in Europe with an exponential increase of their numbers is likely to eventually cause Europe this time to completely break down Schengen into pieces, with all the imminent repercussions that this event would bring to the ever closer union vision.