Post-Coup Codependency

Europe's Turkish Dilemma

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey May 4, 2016. To match Special Report EUROPE-MIGRANTS/TURKEY-CHILDREN REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
Europe is still deeply divided over how to respond to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's brutal response to an abortive military coup attempt two months ago.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    While Europe officially disapproves of the crackdown on human rights violations in Turkey, it has been timid in its response becasue of its vested interests in the country.

  • Facts


    • The military faction mounted a failed coup against Turkish President Erdogan on July 15. Some 300 people died.
    • Since then, Mr. Erdogan has severely curtailed press freedoms, conducted mass arrests and purged thousands of civil service jobs.
    • The European Union has called Mr. Erdogan’s measures “unacceptable,” and has urged him to respect civil rights and the rule of law.
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Every day Turkey seems to be moving further away from the West. The crackdown on freedom of the press, culminating in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government closing down dozens of newspapers and radio and television broadcasters, is only the most recent blow to democracy in Turkey.

Following the failed coup d’état, Mr. Erdogan dismissed, locked up or harassed more than 60,000 soldiers, journalists, judges, lawyers, teachers and employees of state companies such as Turkish Airlines. There can hardly have been a clearer way to block the bridge over the Bosphorus and the connection it provides to Europe and its values.

And yet every day Turkey seems to become a little more important for the West, and Europe in particular. The series of attacks in recent weeks – from Nice to Würzburg and Ansbach to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray – were more painful reminders of the danger posed by Islamist terrorism.

As there is currently no alternative to the refugee agreement negotiated by Angela Merkel with Ankara to control the flow of refugees, Turkey remains of key importance in the migration crisis. Because of its geographical location, Turkey is a buffer zone to the crisis-hit regions of the Middle East and – despite saber-rattling by Mr. Erdogan on his eastern borders – a regional force for order.

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