The fragile truce between Turkey and Brussels is sporting increasingly huge cracks.
Earlier today, the European Parliament voted to suspend EU membership talks with Turkey.
In response, the very angry Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan Threatened to Unleash 3 Million Refugees Into Europe.
Extortion Threat Renewed
For the third time this year, Erdogan Threatens to Let 3M Refugees Into Europe.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ramped up his dispute with Brussels warning he would allow 3m refugees into Europe at a time of mounting political anxiety over the advance of rightwing populists in Austria, Germany and France.
As tension escalates with Mr Erdogan over his clampdown on opponents after a failed military coup in July, officials in Brussels are examining the allocation of €600m in annual financial aid to Ankara as a result of the purge.
The Turkish leader lashed out at Brussels one day after the European Parliament called for a pause in Turkey’s EU accession talks in protest at Ankara’s “repressive” and “disproportionate” response to a violent coup attempt earlier this year.
Mr Erdogan has previously warned that he could put refugees “on buses” to Europe but his latest threats come one week ahead of Austria’s presidential election in which far-right candidate Norbert Hofer is marginally ahead.
Austria is the only EU member state to call for a halt to talks with Turkey but the parliament’s vote reflects a hardening of attitudes to the country around the EU. Although member states are reluctant to break off the talks, a senior diplomat said the options available to Brussels included a review of aid allocations to the country.
As European leaders grapple with the political fallout from the migration crisis, the Austrian poll next Sunday comes ahead of German and French elections next year in which rightwing populists aim to take advantage of the debacle.
Mr Erdogan responded angrily to the European Parliament vote, saying he could open the floodgates to Europe. “We are the ones who feed 3m-3.5m refugees in this country,” he said. “You have betrayed your promises. If you go any further those border gates will be opened.”
Mr Erdogan’s remarks met a chilly response in Brussels, where officials insist Europe is upholding its side of the migrant deal.
“Rhetorical threats are absolutely unhelpful and should not be the standard tone between partners,” said a senior EU official. “This will not help Turkey’s credibility in the eyes of European citizens. Europe will not be blackmailed.”
While Austria has called for a halt to the process, Germany, France and most other EU states support continued engagement. They see Turkey, the world’s largest host of refugees, as a difficult but vital partner for tackling the migration crisis and maintaining the cohesion and stability of the bloc.
Ankara is also an important security partner in the battle against Isis, intercepting foreign jihadist fighters seeking to reach Syria or Iraq from its territory.
Some analysts have questioned whether Mr Erdogan would follow through on his ultimatum to open up the borders, given that the Turkish authorities have imposed travel restrictions on large numbers of Turkish citizens.
Several alleged leaders of the July coup attempt are reportedly on the run, while many other people have been subjected to travel restrictions since the coup, as the government has sacked 125,000 people from the military, police and the public sector.
Blame for the sorry state of this complicated mess falls largely and squarely on the shoulders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel foolishly welcomed refugees with open arms, then negotiated a deal by herself, with Erdogan. Since then, Erdogan has upped extortion threats several times, one of them actually succeeding in getting more money from Brussels.
Ultimately, the agreement is doomed to fail one way or another, but the sooner the better for all involved. Turkey is an effective dictatorship that does not belong in the EU.
I congratulate the European Parliament for perfect timing. The vote to suspend talks comes at a perfect time to help Austria’s anti-immigration candidate Norbert Hofer.
Hofer is running against independent Alexander Van der Bellen, a Green-backed candidate for president of Austria.
Two days ago, the Express had Latest polls, Odds and Predictions on the Austria election.
Hofer’s odds of becoming the next Austrian President were 4/9, according to bookmaker Paddy Power as of November 23.
Polls have been notoriously inaccurate lately, but always in favor of media-sponsored, government-sponsored, Hollywood-sponsored, politically-correct, left-wing candidates.
Hofer has none of those attributes but is still ahead.
The election is December 4. The move by the European Parliament and Erdogan’s response will help sway the vote towards Hofer for anyone still sitting on the fence.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock