June 02, 2016
Watch out for a fudge over Turkey
It would be quite astonishing if the EU were to stand up to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This morning we saw two different snippets of information that are telling us there are behind-the-scenes diplomatic manoeuvres going on to ensure that the refugee deal will hold. First of all, we note that neither Angela Merkel, nor Frank Walter Steinmeier, nor Sigmar Gabriel, will take part in the Bundestag's vote to declare the Armenian genocide a genocide. Apparently, all three coincidentaly have diary conflicts - more pressing business to attend to. We assume that Angela Merkel told Erdogan that, unlike in Turkey, the heads of state or government cannot tell the parliament what to do, but she was willing to signal her personal goodwill by not attending the meeting. As Spiegel reports, Steinmeier pointedly failed to use the word genocide at a recent visit to Armenia, or as the article put it: let the historians decide what it is - pragmatic politics needs to deal with Turkey (and lie). What we find astonishing is the complete lack of criticism of such behaviour.
Then we note from the official declaration that there is no longer a mention of genocide. We would not be surprised to find out that the wording has been cleared with the supreme ruler in Ankara.
The other snippet of information is a tweet by the usually well-informed Charles Grant:
"After meeting top officials in Brussels, I believe EU-Turkey deal will hold, and that Turks'll do enough for EP to pass visa-free in autumn."
There is no chance that Erdogan will do enough to fulfil the conditions. But the EU might pretend that he has done enough. We agree with Grant that the EP will end up voting in favour, and look the other way. The need to pretend that the refugee crisis is over has a higher priority than the human rights abuses in a neighbouring country.