domingo, 29 de novembro de 2015
UE dá três mil milhões à Turquia para conter fluxo de refugiados / Europe goes hot Turkey
Europe goes hot Turkey
The migration crisis has thrown the EU and Ankara together. The next chapter will determine if the relationship can last.
By ERNEST MARAGALL 11/29/15, 7:00 AM CET Updated 11/30/15, 1:04 AM CET
Europe faces the biggest refugee crisis since World War II and has so far failed to come up with a fair and sustainable solution. Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, Turkey has welcomed more than 2 million Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives, making Turkey the largest refugee-hosting country in the world.
In an effort to stem the flow of refugees trying to cross into Europe, the EU has turned to Turkey in desperation. The EU hopes to finalize a deal with Turkey at Sunday’s high-level summit which will bring together the 28 EU leaders and the Prime Minister of Turkey for the first time since 2004.
But trying to outsource Europe’s refugee crisis to Turkey is not a credible long-term solution. The final deal should not only include substantial financial support to Turkey but also a shared European responsibility in tackling the issue.
While the Syrian refugee crisis has also produced an unexpected rapprochement between Turkey and the European Union, the urgency of the humanitarian crisis should not be used as a bargaining chip by either side.
Linking any migration deal to Turkey’s EU accession negotiations risks of jeopardizing the credibility of EU’s enlargement policy. One of Jean-Claude Juncker’s priorities as Commission president was that no further enlargement would take place during his mandate. A year after Juncker took office, the EU is believed to be offering new incentives in exchange for Turkey’s cooperation on the refugee crisis. These incentives include granting visa-free travel rights to Turks by 2016 — a year earlier than envisaged in the visa liberalization roadmap — and the opening of a few negotiation chapters. Almost all of these incentives are subject to political veto.
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Before the refugee crisis hit Europe, Turkey’s relations with the EU were in a state of slumber. The last time a chapter was opened for negotiation, on regional policy, was November 2013. To date, only 14 of the 33 chapters that require negotiations have been opened and only one has been closed.
Enlargement negotiations with Turkey reached a technical stalemate due to political unwillingness to move forward ever since negotiations started 10 years ago, an anniversary that has gone by largely unnoticed. The failure to resolve the Cyprus issue remains one of the major stumbling blocks in Turkey’s road to EU membership. Hopefully by next spring, renewed negotiations currently taking place between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders will lead to a concrete plan to reunite the island.
As no substantial progress was achieved in the negotiations, the EU gradually lost any leverage it had to promote EU-inspired reforms that ensure respect for the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. In parallel, the Erdoğan-led AKP (Justice and Development Party) government has lost its appetite for reform, leaning towards a more authoritarian style of government.
Now, it seems, the tables have turned. As Europe needs Turkey to stem the flow of refugees, so Turkey is trying to assert greater influence over Brussels. The postponement of the Commission’s progress report on Turkey until after the November 1 snap elections is just one example.
Despite attempts to downgrade Turkey’s relationship with the EU, Turkey formally remains a candidate country for EU accession. In the eyes of the EU, Turkey should not solely be treated as a “strategic ally” with whom to cooperate in areas of shared interest — migration today; whatever new geostrategic challenge comes tomorrow — but as an aspiring candidate to membership who must comply with a set of rules and standards.
In recent years the Turkish government has taken measures that pushed the country away from meeting the EU’s Copenhagen accession criteria. The impartiality and independence of Turkey’s judiciary were deeply undermined, freedom of expression and the media repeatedly came under threat, the human rights situation in the country deteriorated sharply and hopes of a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question vanished when the ceasefire broke down in July.
The EU cannot remain silent while Turkey continues to backtrack from democracy. The new rapprochement between Brussels and Ankara presents the best chance in years to bring Turkey back into the democratic fold. The EU must re-engage with Turkey constructively and regain its transformative power through active and credible accession negotiations.
After all, ensuring that Turkey remains a stable democracy is in the EU’s best interests. Had the EU done so a decade ago, Turkey would certainly look like a different country today.
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The new Turkish government also needs to prove its commitment to the EU accession process by returning to the reform agenda. Looking increasingly like its troubled neighbors, Turkey should turn to the EU as its most reliable partner in the region and strengthen its cooperation in addressing common security challenges. Turkey should act responsibly in the fight against ISIL while reaffirming its support for the efforts of the international coalition.
After regaining the majority it lost in June, Turkey’s ruling AKP should abandon its authoritarian style of government and reinstate a culture of political reconciliation between all ethnic and religious groups in the country. The process of redrafting Turkey’s current constitution, put in place after the 1980 military coup, should serve as the foundation for a renewed social contract and a consolidated democratic system.
At the same time, the EU should put pressure on Ankara to address human rights and democracy shortcomings while promoting democratization efforts by not holding the enlargement negotiations hostage to political considerations.
At present both Turkey and the EU are confronted with a choice. The EU must choose between bringing Turkey closer by demanding real reform efforts or considering the country an occasional strategic ally. In turn, Turkey must decide whether it wants to play an active role in creating a stronger and shared Europe or continue to pursue its ambition to exercise regional leadership.
Ernest Maragall is a member of the EU-Turkey Delegation, and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament.