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Turkish-German Split Widens

Walter Russell Mead

The future of the EU’s migration deal is very much up in the air, largely because the increasingly authoritarian and megalomaniacal style of Erdogan makes in increasingly difficult for Germany or any other self respecting European power to work with him. The Financial Times:

Angela Merkel has condemned the move by Turkey’s legislature to strip nearly a third of its lawmakers of parliamentary immunity, in a sign of the increasingly fractious relations between Ankara and Berlin that pose a risk to the recent landmark deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the German chancellor said she was “deeply concerned” by the vote in Turkey’s parliament on Friday.

She added that it would have “grave consequences, especially for Kurdish politicians”.

In this case, Merkel had a special reason for speaking up: many Turkish immigrants in Germany are in fact of Turkish origin. The polarization Erdogan is engineering in Turkey in order to advance his ambitions will have consequences for German security.

It is disconcerting to say the least that in a time of growing insecurity from Ukraine to the Middle East, Turkey, which could play a pivotal role in stabilizing the situation, has launched out onto an unpredictable foreign policy based as much on impulse and emotion as anything else. Turkey is an important enough country that when it loses its way, the consequences reverberate through the region and the world. That unfortunately seems to be what we are dealing with now.

Cynical Russian activism, the rise of ISIS, and the disintegration of Syria should be leading Turkey to work more closely with its Western partners in Europe and NATO. Yet Erdogan seems bent on keeping Turkey isolated at a time of rising threats. Gone are the days when solid, stolid Turkey was an oasis of calm in a troubled neighborhood. It would be one thing if Turkey was in pursuit of a coherent set of goals, but Erdogan seems to stumble from crisis to crisis as friends step away and troubles mount.

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