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Will Merkel survive Turkey’s blackmailing?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is threatening to “open the gates” to the EU for millions of refugees because Brussels does not appreciate his crackdown on opponents.

Published: November 11, 2016, 12:23 pm

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    It seems as though Angela Merkel’s refugee deal with Turkey is about to unravel after a war of words ended in Turkish threats to flood the EU with more migrants. Merkel made the deal, without consultation, for political expediency.

    The European Commission castigated Erdogan’s rule on Wednesday for purges directed at soldiers, judges, civil servants and teachers after a failed coup in July.

    But Erdogan resorted to blackmail, telling a group of Turkish business leaders that Europeans would not dare to halt EU accession talks with Turkey because that could lead to a flood of new migrants.

    The Turkish leader is mulling the reintroduction of the death penalty abolished in 2004, and has already engineered a press takeover, a judicial purge, and the imprisonment of political opponents.

    EU countries Austria, Luxembourg, and the EU enlargement commissioner now want to suspend talks with Ankara over EU membership. Johannes Hahn, the EU enlargement commissioner, said Brussels was perturbed by the “degradation in the rule of law and democracy” since the attempted putsch.

    The EU has already paid Turkey large sums of money to house the refugees, but the Turkish leader reminded the EU of the fragility of the deal: “You know those 3m refugees in Turkey? They say there is a problem.” he added.

    “What if the negotiations end and they open the gates, where would we put those 3m refugees? That is their worry. That is why they cannot come to the end point.”

    Austria has pushed for accession talks to be suspended while Luxembourg’s foreign minister has called for sanctions against Turkey.

    karin@praag.org

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