EU leaders Recoil from Merkel's Deal With the Devil
Deal Unwinds Already
It took precisely one day for the rest of Europe to realize Merkel has gone mad with her "Deal with the Devil" that would have granted visa access to 79 million Turkish citizens in return for Turkey halting 2 million Syrian refugees from moving into Greece.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Le Monde newspaper that he was "totally opposed to the idea. In Germany, Merkel's CSU party is in revolt. And a senior EU official commented "The idea that Turkey will get a freebie on visa liberalisation is a joke."
This is round two of a well-deserved "go to hell" message to Merkel. Will her majesty pay any more attention this time?
EU leaders Recoil From Turkey's Demands
The Financial Times reports EU Leaders Recoil From Turkey's Demands.
My title "EU leaders Recoil from Merkel's Deal With the Devil" is more appropriate.
The EU's latest migration master plan rests on a huge promise to Ankara that could prove impossible to fulfil -- visa-free access to Europe for 75m Turks.
But politicians in Europe are already recoiling. François Hollande, the French president, is watchful of his right-flank; his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy told Le Monde newspaper that he was "totally opposed to the removal of visas for 80m or so Turks who would then be able to travel freely in the Schengen zone". In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's CSU sister party and some centre-left SPD figures are rallying against the measure.
That disquiet is also evident in the European Parliament, which must approve any visa decision.
Manfred Weber, a German CSU MEP who leads the centre-right EPP bloc, the biggest in the parliament, told the FT that he saw "large obstacles" to visa liberalisation including the sensitive issue of Turkey's status as a "safe" country, its data-protection standards, and police and judicial co-operation.
Under Turkey's EU "visa road map", Ankara must meet 72 criteria that EU leaders insist will still be applied. These range from the technical to the highly political, including rewriting terror laws and recognising the Cypriot government in Nicosia that Turkey has shunned for four decades.
"The idea that Turkey will get a freebie on visa liberalisation is a joke," the senior EU official said, pointing out that a commission recommendation is just the first step of the process. "This is not as easy as they think."
Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey, said that, if Ankara meets the criteria, Europe would be trapped. "I don't see France ever accepting the deal this year when elections are close," he said. "I don't believe for a minute EU countries want progress on all fronts."
Then there is the thorny question of Cyprus. Cypriot visitors to Turkey must apply as nationals from the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus" -- an indignity the EU wants corrected. Some compromises are under discussion, but the recognition issue has proved insoluble for decades.
In Brussels, diplomats are already joking that the EU migration plan is so ambitious that it might as well "cover the Israel-Palestine conflict as well".
Against the Deal
It seems everyone is against the deal but chancellor Merkel, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish citizens, and the Devil.
Heading into the summit with Turkey, the EU bent over backwards to ignore Erdogan's takeover of Turkey's largest newspaper effectively making Erdogan a de-facto dictator. For details please see In Bed with a Dictator.
At the summit, Merkel managed to ramrod through a deal in which senior EU diplomats accused the chancellor of backstabbing. Others described Merkel's methods "brutal".
For details, please see Needs of the "One"; Merkel's Backstabbing; Devil Cheers.
What Merkel Forgot
Apparently Merkel forgot that coercing her fellow summit attendees would not be sufficient. She now needs to coerce the EU parliament. Factions that include the views of centrist Nicolas Sarkozy and France's anti-immigration leader Marine Le Pen.
So hey, Merkel may as well expand the agreement to cover the Israel Palestine conflict as well.
Merkel is not only in over her head, she is totally clueless and should resign.
That message rings louder today.