Turkey should end migrant deal, provide safe passage to Europe
Ankara should immediately consider ending the migrant deal that it signed with the European Union in March. Continuous sanction threats from the EU, terrorists being sheltered in the European cities and increasing demands for freezing the accession talks are more than enough to make Turkey end the migrant deal.
It is clear that such a move would drive the EU to cut the accession negotiations and impose economic sanctions on Turkey. the country which prevented collapse of Schengen zone after the continent faced the worst migrant crisis since the World War II. Such incident would have costed 1.4 billion euros to the bloc, a study by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation showed.
The migrant deal was seen by Turkey as a step towards helping Europe to get out of its "crisis", so it can look to solve the crisis in Syria. At first, there were positive responses to Turkey’s Syria-related proposals. Germany and France signaled their solid support for a no-fly-zone and a safe area in the northern part of the country. However, it was all on talks and Europe completely abandoned Syria and Turkey after they stopped receiving migrants.
Turkey has recently foiled a military coup and it has recently experienced the deadliest terrorist attacks of its history. When Ankara take measures to ensure its security, Europe begins to scream out.
The relations between Turkey and the EU had never been this cold before. Turkey’s counter-terrorism operations and raids highly disturbed its European "allies", who are happily providing all sorts of assistance to terrorist groups fighting against Turkey.
There is not much to say about the European stance on the PKK terrorists and their affiliates. They are allowed to carry out their propaganda and even attend Turkey-related sessions at the European institutions.
When the Turkish Parliament was bombed in the coup attempt, we heard weak voices and almost no solidarity from Europe, but after the pro-PKK deputies of the very same Parliament - who are accused of terrorism activities - got arrested, the EU was quick to gather all the ambassadors of the members countries in Ankara to discuss the arrests. Many top EU officials raised their voices to a level where they demanded EU to cut membership negotiations with Turkey, yes, the negotiations that started a few months after I was born and which will likely to be carried on until the last day of the earth.
The PKK running its propaganda and managing its dirty finance from Europe is the topic of another column but I would like to mention two recent incidents that I faced in the heart of Europe.
Hours after pro-PKK HDP deputies were arrested, PKK supporters quickly gathered outside the European Parliament in Brussels to protest Turkey with the flags of the PKK in their hands. According to the General Police Regulation (Article 43) in Brussels, each gathering, demonstration or parade − of any kind − in public spaces is subject to the authorization of the government. The application for the permit must be sent to the police at least 10 days before the scheduled date of the protest. When I went to cover the protest, I asked the officers present at the scene if the demonstration is legal and if the crowd had an authorization from the government. "You may record the demonstration sir" was the only reply I had. Although I insisted on getting a respond to my questions, officers opted to remain silent. There was also another interesting incident and that was a day before the protest I mentioned above. A Belgian court ruled that the PKK is in an armed struggle against Turkey and its activities are classified as terrorism. I am sure you are shocked too after reading the previous sentence: Armed struggle vs terrorism? The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and this is also binding Belgium. As for this controversial court ruling, the federal prosecutors appealed against the ruling that contradicts the EU’s terror list.
I cannot hold myself from asking the question: Would Europe act the same if the PKK was not a secular terrorist group but a religious extremist one? Just imagine Daesh leader Baghdadi’s posters being held in a pro-Daesh demonstration in Brussels, imagine Daesh-linked MPs attending to the funerals of Daesh terrorists, just think of a deadly suicide bombing killing over 20 people and a parliamentarian attending a condolence ceremony of this terrorist.
If Europe is going to continue harboring terror suspects − including hundreds of people wanted by the Interpol −, threaten to end accession talks, keep quiet over Syria crisis, unable to share Turkey’s migration crisis and fail to show solidarity against terror and coup, what else could Ankara do?
Turkey could go to a referendum to ask its people if they want to continue EU accession negotiations. Ending the migrant deal and providing a safe passage to Europe is what would be the next step.
This is not blackmailing but holding a mirror to Europe, the same Europe that calls a migrant camp a "jungle".
Mehmet Solmaz is the Brussels correspondent for Turkey’s Sabah daily. He also frequently appears in international media to comment on regional politics and conflicts. You can follow him on Twitter @MhmtSlmz.