As Turkey Turns Totalitarian, EU Officials Move to Accelerate EU Membership Bid

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The EU is turning a blind eye to an opposition crackdown in Turkey that’s polarizing society and complicating efforts to find a political solution to the nation’s Kurdish conflict, Demirtas said in an impromptu interview en route to Brussels. European leaders are expected to ink an agreement with Turkey on Monday that will offer faster EU membership negotiations and visa-free travel in exchange for stopping refugees from crossing the country to enter Europe.

Demirtas was speaking two days after Turkish government trustees took over one of Turkey’s primary opposition newspapers in a dramatic raid that sparked clashes between protesters and police. The seizure reflects a broader intolerance of dissent that has also undermined the HDP, who are now largely excluded from mainstream media coverage.

On the same day that authorities took control of the Zaman newspaper, European Council President Donald Tusk, who was in Istanbul, tweeted a picture of himself with Erdogan in front of a pair of golden throne-like seats.

It was almost identical to a photo-op with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, which was around the same time that the EU agreed to Erdogan’s request to withhold a critical report on Turkish democracy until after the general election a few days later.

– From the Bloomberg article: EU Making `Big Mistake’ in Turkey Deal

European Union bureaucrats like to portray themselves as enlightened, competent technocrats who nobly represent humanity’s grandest political and economic experiment. Meanwhile, the stark reality is the EU is little more than a bunch of self-interested frauds willing to do “whatever it takes” to preserve their own status and power. When you peel back the EU’s facade of disingenuous humanitarian pledges, what you discover is a putrid cadre of incompetent, corrupt and deeply unethical politicians.

An illustrative example of this truth was revealed recently, as EU officials moved to strike a deal with an increasingly authoritarian Turkey in a desperate attempt to stem the refugee flow. It’s been known for quite some time that Turkey is using the refugee crisis as leverage to pressure the EU and other “allies,” which makes panicked attempts by EU bureaucrats to strike a deal with Erdogan the equivalent of negotiating with terrorists. Too harsh you say? Let’s revisit a few articles highlighting Turkey’s recent spiral into totalitarianism.

First, from the post So Who’s Really Sponsoring ISIS? Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Other U.S. “Allies”:

A senior Western official familiar with a large cache of intelligence obtained this summer told the Guardian that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”

ISIS, in other words, is state-sponsored — indeed, sponsored by purportedly Western-friendly regimes in the Muslim world, who are integral to the anti-ISIS coalition. Which then begs the question as to why Hollande and other Western leaders expressing their determination to “destroy” ISIS using all means necessary, would prefer to avoid the most significant factor of all: the material infrastructure of ISIS’ emergence in the context of ongoing Gulf and Turkish state support for Islamist militancy in the region.

Moving along, what about the following from the post U.S. Ally Turkey Arrests Academics for the Crime of Signing a Peace Petition:

Hundreds of Turkish academics are waiting to find out whether they will be prosecuted or sacked for spreading “terrorist propaganda”, after they signed a petition calling for violence to end in Turkey’s southeast, where government forces have been fighting Kurdish separatists.

After the petition provoked a furious response from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, several universities in the country have begun investigations into signatories among their faculty — which could lead to their dismissal if accusations of unlawful political agitation hold up. On 15 January, police arrested and later released 27 academics, according to local media reports, including economists, physicians and scientists.

Turkey’s government has previously clamped down on scientists and students who question its policies, imprisoned scientists charged with terrorism offenses, and restricted the freedom of funding agencies and scientific academies. But the number of arrests and investigations makes the current episode one of the larger Turkish attacks on freedom of expression in recent years, prompting outrage among human-rights advocates.

Now to top it all off, just last week the Turkish government shamelessly seized the nation’s most widely circulated newspaper.

As The New York Times reported:

ISTANBUL — Backed by a court order, the Turkish authorities moved on Friday to seize Zaman, the country’s most widely circulated newspaper, in the latest crackdown by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on freedom of the press.

As news of the takeover became public Friday afternoon, supporters began gathering in front of the newspaper’s offices in Istanbul, and employees locked a door to the building. In a live-stream broadcast on the newspaper’s website, supporters were seen chanting, “Free press cannot be silenced.” Some carried Turkish flags and banners emblazoned with, “Do not touch my newspaper.” Columnists from the paper were also seen addressing the crowd.

Later Friday night, Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd and forcibly enter the building.

“We are going through the darkest and gloomiest days in terms of freedom of the press, which is a major benchmark for democracy and the rule of law,” read a statement issued by the editors of Today’s Zaman, an English-language sister publication to Zaman. “Intellectuals, businesspeople, celebrities, civil society organizations, media organizations and journalists are being silenced via threats and blackmail.”

The move to seize Zaman and put it under the administration of a court-appointed panel of trustees emphasized what critics say is a rapid deterioration of free-speech rights under the Islamist government of Mr. Erdogan, who was prime minister for more than a decade before being elected president in 2014.

So in the face of such blatant authoritarianism from a close ally, here’s the EU and NATO response…

As Turkey faces its domestic demons, critics say the government has been emboldened to target its enemies within the country because the European Union and NATO allies, in particular, have looked the other way as they seek Turkey’s support to contain the refugee crisis and pacify the raging civil war in Syria.

“This pattern is appalling, and Turkey is galloping towards an authoritarian regime full speed ahead,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a prominent journalist who lost her column last year at the daily Milliyet under government pressure. “Unfortunately, the world, in particular the E.U., remains silent. The government here can sense the vulnerability in the West, especially since the beginning of the refugee crisis, and is pushing the boundaries to consolidate its power.”

Ms. Aydintasbas added, using an acronym for the Islamic State, “Erdogan knows the West is vulnerable because of ISIS and the refugees and he is going to use this as much as he can.”

While that’s embarrassing enough, to see just how fully and pathetically the European Union is folding, we turn to Bloomberg:

The European Union is making an historic mistake in its haste to conclude a refugee deal with Turkey, overlooking human rights violations that risk plunging the bloc’s largest membership candidate into civil war, said Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the nation’s most prominent pro-Kurdish party.

The EU is turning a blind eye to an opposition crackdown in Turkey that’s polarizing society and complicating efforts to find a political solution to the nation’s Kurdish conflict, Demirtas said in an impromptu interview en route to Brussels. European leaders are expected to ink an agreement with Turkey on Monday that will offer faster EU membership negotiations and visa-free travel in exchange for stopping refugees from crossing the country to enter Europe.

“The EU is trying so hard not to upset Erdogan, and that’s a big mistake,” Demirtas said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The world has gone very silent on what’s happening in Turkey, and that’s saddening and also short-sighted. If the war in Turkey continues like this, you’re also going to have refugees from Turkey.”

Demirtas was speaking two days after Turkish government trustees took over one of Turkey’s primary opposition newspapers in a dramatic raid that sparked clashes between protesters and police. The seizure reflects a broader intolerance of dissent that has also undermined the HDP, who are now largely excluded from mainstream media coverage.

On the same day that authorities took control of the Zaman newspaper, European Council President Donald Tusk, who was in Istanbul, tweeted a picture of himself with Erdogan in front of a pair of golden throne-like seats.

I had to reread that several times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

It was almost identical to a photo-op with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year, which was around the same time that the EU agreed to Erdogan’s request to withhold a critical report on Turkish democracy until after the general election a few days later.

Such moves have generated opposition within the EU. Marietje Schaake, a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, called for the body to address rule of law and rights violations in Turkey, which she says have deteriorated even since Frans Timmermans, a European commissioner, agreed on a preliminary deal with Erdogan on asylum and migration late last year.

“Turkey won’t solve Europe’s problems” on refugees, Schaake said in a statement Monday. “Yet, the price of credibility and principles has been paid.”

That ladies and gentlemen, is the European Union.

For additional Turkey-related articles, see:

Will a Turkey Related Event Spark a Much Wider Regional War?

U.S. Ally Turkey Arrests Academics for the Crime of Signing a Peace Petition

So Who’s Really Sponsoring ISIS? Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Other U.S. “Allies”

Turkey Bombs Kurds Fighting ISIS, Then Hires Same Lobbying Firm Supporting U.S. Presidential Candidates

Tor Usage Soars in Turkey Following the Government’s Attempted Twitter Ban

Turkey’s Prime Minister: “There is a Now a Menace Which is Called Twitter”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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  1. This is merely a EU ‘Quid pro Quo’ towards Turkey in response to It’s Future actions involving Middle East Refugees….

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