Turkey-EU relations are sinking

Turkey-EU relations are sinking

A negative trend in relations between Berlin and Ankara, observed in recent years, continued on the background of latest domestic developments in Turkey. The relations between Germany and Turkey saw some improvements over the past months, which is indirectly evidenced by the fact that in the beginning of October Turkey allowed a delegation of German MPs to visit Incirlik military base, where Bundeswehr soldiers are serving.

This decision was a result of lengthy negotiations between the German and the Turkish authorities, after which the official Berlin basically distanced itself from Bundestag resolution on "Armenian genocide", which angered Turkey, and in response the republic softened its position on the visit of a group of German parliamentarians to Incirlik. However, this period of mutual understanding between the two countries did not last for long. In late October Turkish authorities did not allow MPs from the 'Left' party to visit Incirlik military base, since this party is considered to be pro-Kurdish. This decision wasn't unreasonable, since many supporters of the 'Left' party clearly sympathize with left Marxist ideology of the PKK. 

Four days ago, when chief editor and leading journalists of Cumhuriyet publication close to the Republican Party were arrested in Turkey, official Berlin, represented by the government speaker of Steffen Seibert, responded with restraint, using only common phrases about the importance of freedom of speech in a legal state. Many political forces in Germany, like the 'Left' to 'Green' parties, did not allow the federal government to ignore this situation and harshly criticized it for being too vague. Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out on this topic a few days later, using more harsh and clear rhetoric this time. Official Berlin responded even more harshly to the arrests of deputies and leadership of pro-Kurdish 'Peoples' Democratic Party' (HDP), led by Selahattin Demirtas. In fact, Ankara could not seriously expect that Europeans will simply close their eyes to the detention of members of the parliament. At one time, Turkish authorities themselves allowed Kurdish separatist party to become part of the political landscape of the country, and now they have to face the consequences of this decision. However, Ankara's response to the accusations of Berlin shows that Turks don't plan to use any excuses to justify their actions. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag criticized Germany, accusing it of oppressing German Turks. 

Migrant deal between Ankara and Brussels is also falling apart. Turkish side has once again stated that it will wait for the introduction of visa-free regime between the EU and Turkey only until the end of this year. Otherwise this deal will be canceled. Considering the fact that right now Middle East is from peace more than ever, the consequences of this step for Europeans, and especially for Germans, can be quite significant. But it won't be easy for Berlin and Brussels to just accept such a blatant public pressure. The situation is complicated even further by political tensions in Turkey - by criticizing Turkish authorities Europe makes the conflict even worse. And by not criticizing it betrays its own values, which are already in crisis. Sides don't really have a choice: they can continue to follow this difficult path to achieve compromises on all topical issues, or just cut off their relations. Despite all the tensions, it is obvious that the second option is not considered seriously by any side.