‘EU punishes Turkey for mending relations with Russia, NATO’s Enemy №1’
The EU-Turkey scandal has been evolving over the past few weeks, as rallies sponsored by the Turkish government in several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, were cancelled, or Turkish officials were barred from attending them.
Turkish politicians have launched a campaign ahead of a constitutional referendum to be held on April 16 to drum up support among the large number of Turks living in Europe. A ‘yes’ vote would give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.
The effort has been hampered by the authorities of several European nations, leading Turkey to claim that there is a concerted effort to undermine the referendum among countries that have been critical of Ankara’s crackdown on the opposition in the wake of an attempted military coup last year.
Erdogan has lashed out at the bans, the latest of which was imposed by the Dutch authorities. On Saturday, the Netherlands barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in Rotterdam and, later in the day, prevented Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the city’s Turkish consulate and deported her to Germany.
Turkey’s president reacted angrily, saying “they will certainly pay the price and also learn what diplomacy is. We will teach them international diplomacy,” he said on Sunday.
RT discussed the latest developments concerning the referendum rallies row with analysts.
Political writer and journalist Dan Glazebrook noted that one factor behind the spat is Turkey’s warming relations with Russia.
“Turkey is important to the West as a NATO member. It was the leading conduit for arms and fighters in NATO’s proxy war in Syria. It is important to keep Turkey on board, and now Turkey is talking about healing its relations with Russia, who is NATO’s Enemy № 1,” he said.
According to Glazebrook, the EU’s expulsion of Turkish officials is a part of “punishing” Ankara for its “apparent wavering in its commitment towards the West and its apparent movements towards Moscow.”
Political analyst John Bosnitch says that the Dutch authorities’ decision to prevent Turkey’s foreign minister from landing in “a democratic country to hold a democratic meeting with his own citizens is an unheard of violation of international law.” He also pointed out that the deportation of Turkey’s family minister is a violation the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which “guarantees the right to sovereign status of embassies.”
The latest spat between Turkey and the EU comes “hours after Russia and Turkey announced that they had normalized relations between the two countries,” Bosnitch noted, referring to Erdogan’s visit to Moscow earlier in the week.
“Two countries which were at odds with each other decided that they will have collaboration in their interests and suddenly we see that Germany, Austria, Switzerland and [the Netherlands] banning the presence of Turkish government representatives to take part in a democratic debate,” he said.
In Bosnitch’s opinion, these diplomatic spats show that NATO’s leading members are “objecting to a peaceful solution of the crisis in Syria.”
The Dutch government is “intervening to stop Turkey from working together with Russia in a manner that blocs the NATO attempt to destabilize Syria,” he said, adding “it is a massive reversal of NATO’s aggressive policy in Syria by the peaceful collaboration between Turkey and Russia, two countries which not so long ago were apparently on the edge of war.”
Confrontational incidents similar to those taking place in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands may sweep through Europe, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof said.
“It started back when Turkey wanted to [get] visa-free access to Europe. It is not a member of EU – it is seeking it – and it wants all the privileges of EU member states… in exchange for limits on migration flow into Europe,” he noted.
Though Turkey and the EU agreed on the deal, now “Turkey contends that the EU has not lived up to its end of the bargain,” Maloof said, noting that Erdogan can still release the immigration flow back into Europe.
“He’s got leverage and he’s been playing that leverage,” Maloof said.
Martin Jay, a freelance journalist based in Beirut, says the list of EU members that have given Turkey the cold shoulder is “growing,” calling it a “worrying” development.
“Relations between Turkey and EU have never been as bad as they are now. It is worrying. The credibility of the European Union is at all time low,” he told RT.
The journalist says he’s surprised that Erdogan has not done broken the refugee deal with the EU yet, given the situation.
“This game that the EU has played with Turkey for about 17 years now – the carrot and stick, holding EU accession up as a sort of temptation to pistol-whip the country into changing its human rights record, and becoming more like the EU – is not working,” Jay told RT.
Joaquin Flores, an independent geopolitical analyst and journalist, noted that EU-Turkish relations have always been “one-sided.”
“In the context of refugee crisis… many critics see that what Turkey is doing to the EU is something resembling blackmail,” he said.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.