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7/18/16

Turkey: Opinion: The final crisis between the EU and Turkey

"Told you so" is a useless political argument when we have to stand by and watch a horrible situation unfold before our eyes. Holding out hope or needing a quick fix to a vexing problem sometimes leads to making political decisions against better wisdom.

The German chancellor saw Turkish president Erdogan as the quick fix to the refugee crisis last fall. She needed a way out and betted on Turkey's questionable democratic stability. That bet has now shown itself to be an illusion.

Those opponents will be lucky if it's only prison: Erdogan is using his populist-backed strength to attempt to reintroduce the death penalty. The message from Brussels is at least crystal clear; it would mean the immediate end to membership negotiations. Berlin has stated the same, though the German government has acted with extreme care and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been needlessly walking on eggshells. There is such a thing as too much

The Turkish president has so unabashedly expressed his autocratic cravings because he's that confident that Europe and the U.S. need him more than he needs them. This isn't entirely unfounded: Europe has given him a refugee deal, but that's no reason to be trapped by it.

What can Erdogan do? Open the floodgates to Europe and let in millions of Syrian refugees? Even then, it remains an open question just how much influence Turkey has at stemming the refugee flow.

The Europeans can only make good on their threat to end the relationship with Turkey if they can free themselves of the refugee deal they struck. This does not have to happen immediately, however the EU will lose all credibility should it remain silent while Erdogan emerges from the put down of the coup as omnipotent dictator.

Read more: Opinion: The final crisis between the EU and Turkey | Opinion | DW.COM | 18.07.2016

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