The EU must respond to increasing pressure from Erdoğan - China Post

Faced with an economic downturn and waning political support, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is using the Syrian refugees in his country as a bargaining chip with Brussels, wrote the China Post in an article published on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has over the past few weeks said Ankara may reopen the route for refugees and migrants into Europe if it does not receive adequate international support to enable it to cope with the millions of refugees in Turkey. 

Europeans must swiftly enter negotiations regarding the crisis unfolding in Syria and decide what they are willing to contribute and how much Turkish cooperation they are willing to accept, the China Post wrote.

Under a deal agreed between the EU and Ankara in March 2016, Turkey agreed to stem the flow of refugees and migrants into Europe in return for billions of euros in aid; however, Ankara says it has only received a fraction of the financial support it was promised. 

Erdoğan has also signalled he wants to speak with leaders in Brussels regarding the country’s decades-long EU bid, the article said, pointing to Turkey’s human rights abuses have put accession talks with the EU on ice.

Erdoğan "is under enormous economic pressure, and any sign that the EU is open to maintaining a partnership would help Turkish financial markets,’’ the article said.

Waning support for Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) could signal the end of the Turkish president’s era, it said, adding that Erdoğan is turning to the EU as he is unwilling to go down without putting up a fight.

While Europe does not want wish to prop up Erdoğan as his power begins to crumble, it said, it couldn’t simply leave the fate of millions of Syrian to him or Washington.

Europeans should not wait until it’s too late and let themselves be blackmailed yet again by Erdoğan, the China Post said, adding that this would be the worst possible solution for European policy aims vis-a-vis Turkey.