Commentary

Today, Turkey runs Brussels

I’m not one to say that any one day is more important than another, but today may dictate the future for millions of migrants seeking asylum outside their countries, and for millions more who have seen the refugee route as a way to safety from war-torn countries. Today hinges on Turkey.

a tea house in istanbul
a tea house in istanbul

Earlier this week, EU ministers met to figure out what to do with the millions of foreigners (aka “people”) pouring into Europe. Think the open-border Angela Merkel against the Troy-building Donald Tusk who bullied Austria and Macedonia to close their borders.

Now the deal is being brought to Turkey to try to finalize it, in Brussels. The city of Brussels has had several police raids targeting terrorists connected to the Paris attacks since they happened last November. They want to come to an agreement by the end of today. Negotiations lasted until 12:30am yesterday.

The negotiations today hinge on the Turkish government’s wants. But everything is quickly spiraling out of control and downward in Turkey. March has been hell month:

March 4: Turkish Government seizes the most critical opposition newspaper, Zaman. Commenters say they now have control of 90% of the media landscape.

March 6: The first edition of Zaman after its takeover horrendously Orwellian; a “pro-government zombie”.

March 7: Turkey demands an extra 3 million euros form the EU on top of a proposed 3 million euros to respond to the refugee crisis in their country.

March 13: A car bomb explodes in Ankara, killing 37 and injuring around 125. 30 people had died in another car bomb explosion in Ankara of February 18.

March 17: a Kurdish separatist group claims responsibility for all the last two Anakara attacks.

March 18: today.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the prime minister flew to Brussels on Thursday for face-to-face talks. Here are some of the major things they want:

1) More Money to deal with the relocation of refugees from outside Turkey back to inside Turkey. They want the EU to cover as many expenses as possible.

2) Visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens to any of the Schengen countries beginning on June 1. This is a major political move, and people speculate this will be the major point Turkey is going to push forward.

3) Connected to the travel freedoms, Turkey wants the EU accession procession to be re-opened. They were canceled on the grounds that Turkey was not politically fit for association with the EU (press freedom, misogyny, perpetual war in the southeast, and for some, their Islamic inclinations). Many speculated years ago that Turkey would probably reject the offer to join the EU if given the chance.

Turkey has an immense problem with refugees. They cannot control the flow into the country, and it has been made worse by the initial open-border policy that has effectively remained. For people fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, Turkey is the first stop to safety. Turkey easily has the argument of bearing the huge burden of millions of people, but they are making this a political game. Their position as initial receiver of refugees is being used a leverage to hide what is developing towards a dictatorship.

And the negotiations seemed to have already become quite feisty.

And a Turkish naval vessel was seen deliberately trying to capsize a refugee boat in apparently Greek waters.

The deal that is currently circulating through Brussels is prompting powerful reactions from groups like Amnesty International. with the hashtag #StopTheDeal, they are arguing the deal would be objectifying refugees as currency: trade refugees for political moves.

And in the end, all these decisions are being made at the very high political level. What if these people or these people made the decisions?

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