Two pictures concerning Turkey have flooded the media emission pool over recent days: riot police trashing opposition newspaper offices with gas and water cannons, as well as a smiling Turkish Prime Minister being greeted in Brussels whilst being flooded with offers of billions of pounds in aid and visa-free travel for Turks in Europe.
Prospects of joining the European Union seem bright and dewy for Turkey thanks to the many refugees that have passed into European territory by Turkish borders. Acceptance into the EU was once used as leverage to encourage Turkey to pull up its socks by way of democratic reforms. However, now that Turkey is needed as a big player in stunting the flow of refugees into Europe, the EU is now seemingly foregoing its values in order to satiate its own gross dilemma’s.
The number of sticking points for Turkey joining the EU is much larger than just the refugee crisis that Europe is facing right now. What is quite pressing, and should be at the forefront of this issue, is the lack of constitutional reforms that have been seen from the nation as of late. As Turkey’s prospect of membership dwindled in 2013, recent years have shown the state’s complete incompetence in yielding to ethical standards by way of them waging war on the Kurds, reports of making provision for ISIS Armoury, and now major media outlets are being censored through violent methods.
Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament said that “More rights and freedoms for people in Turkey has been the reason why I supported accession.” However, what is being exemplified in the EU’s sudden change of heart on this issue is “the trading away of principles in the mere hope of solutions to Europe’s own challenges in dealing with asylum seekers and [the] migrant situation.” From the relative silence the EU has shown in response to the renewed war in the southeast of the country to the weak sense of leadership that has been exhibited in turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s slacking reforms relative to freedoms in the press, there is major demonstration of outright hypocrisy in the handling of these current affairs.
There is clearly an especially bad situation of human rights in Turkey; where there are more journalists in prison than any other country, and this includes China. As well, there is also a political culture that is not conducive to pluralism.
Instead of the EU allowing for them to be blackmailed into the accession of Turkey, there needs to be a clear and direct condemnation of breaches of human rights, and a standing up to Turkey and its flagrant attempts to threaten its way into the European Union.