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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.

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June 02, 2016

With friends like Tusk

We find these comments from Donald Tusk astonishing. He blames European integration for the rise of the far right, and pleads for it to stop. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard dug up the comments, made at an EPP summit in Luxembourg. The article says the comments were directed at the European Commission, which may be planning a push for further integration in the event of a Brexit. Tusk wants to nip this in the bud. Here is what he said:

“It is us who today are responsible...Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our euro-enthusiasm....The spectre of a break-up is haunting Europe and a vision of a federation doesn't seem to me like the best answer. We need to understand the necessity of the historical moment.” 

Since Tusk's job is to make European integration work, one wonders how he can live with himself. To us, the comments signal that the eurosceptics have already won the debate.

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