Yesterday in Brussels, the European Union (“EU”) announced a groundbreaking deal with Turkey in which the EU would provide Turkey with $3.19 billion and relaxed visa requirements for Turkish citizens traveling within the EU in exchange for the Turkish government’s promise to curb the flow of migrants in Europe through its western border with Bulgaria and Greece.
In order to enforce the terms, the EU will monitor Turkey’s compliance on a monthly basis. The 28 EU members have yet to agree which members will pay the monies to Turkey. The agreement also includes a clause to speed up Turkey’s membership into the EU.
The deal was announced a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for sanctions against Turkey in response to Turkey downing a Russian fighter jet flying near its borders earlier this week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to acquiesce to Putin’s demand for an apology, demanding instead an apology from “those who violated our airspace.”
Also on Saturday, jailed Turkish journalists urged the EU “not to compromise on human rights and press freedom as it looks to Turkey to help stem Europe’s migrant crisis.” The journalists were arrested on charges of espionage after writing an “article exposing arms shipments from Turkish intelligence to Syrian extremist rebels.”
The EU, which has criticized Turkey in the past for human rights violations, rewarded Erdogan when, also this past Saturday, prominent Kurdish human rights attorney Tahir Elci was shot dead during a protest. Erdogan defended the shooting with the explanation that Turkey was justified in “its determination to fight terrorism.” Ironically, Mr. Elci was killed while delivering “a statement calling for an end to violence between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebel group the PKK.”
While Erdogan was not present in Brussels for Sunday’s announcement, he played the lead role in negotiating the terms. The major clauses of the agreement were laid out this past October, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Erdogan in Ankara. In the meeting, Merkel offered Erdogan a “dirty deal” to speed up Turkey’s membership application to the EU in return for Erdogan accepting migrants rejected by the EU. Just weeks before the meeting, Merkel had “reiterated her opposition to Turkey joining the EU.”
On Sunday, Merkel said that the deal provides the refugees “better living conditions such as the right to work and the EU’s financial support for schooling.” She also explained that “since Turkey is hosting well over two million refugees and has received little international support so Turkey has a right to expect the European Union and its member states to help with mastering this task.”
Merkel’s rationalization strains credulity. If Turkey was only seeking financial assistance for housing the refugees, then why would Erdogan include Turkey’s EU membership in his demands? Further, Erdogan has never asked the EU for any physical or technological help to monitor or close the border. It is clear that Erdogan was allowing the migrant crisis to grow in order to not only revitalize Turkey’s EU membership application but also to have the process expedited.
Not only is Erdogan using the refugees as a pawn, but he also supports ISIS playing both sides against the middle. Last week Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark accused Turkey of facilitating ISIS oil sales. In 2014, Vice President Joe Biden was forced to apologize to Erdogan for accusing Turkey of training and equipping ISIS. However, leaked documents have proved that the Turkish intelligence agency has shipped weapons to terrorists organizations in Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid.
Clearly Erdogan is playing a double game. And we the West are his patsies.