Turkey - Germany

Shake Hands with Europe’s Step-Child

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Turkey and Germany agreed on Monday on a set of measures to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, including a joint diplomatic initiative aiming to halt attacks against Syria’s largest city. Merkel said after talks with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that she is “not just appalled but horrified” by the suffering caused by Russian bombing in Syria.( Yasmin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Ankara, Turkey.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Turkey has been seeking admission to the European Union for decades, but its record on democracy and freedom has held it back. Can Europe ignore authoritarian crackdowns there now?

  • Facts


    • Germany has been a major opponent to admitting Turkey to the European Union.
    • Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany.
    • At a summit on Monday, the European Union and Turkey are expected to deal on limiting refugees to Europe.
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As so often in global politics, something that is right and important has happened at the worst conceivable time.

The refugee crisis has finally forced Europe to focus on Turkey, a country that it has treated like an unloved stepchild for years.

It’s a new and perhaps historic situation. At the same moment that President Tayyip Erdoğan cracks down on freedoms, the European Union must achieve closer ties with Turkey.

Indeed, it’s compelled to wish for a strong and stable Turkey and to believe that this precarious moment is the right time for rapprochement.

For a long time, Europeans made things easy for themselves: Turkey was Syria’s neighbor, and the civil war and refugees were Turkey’s problem.

But ever since desperate asylum seekers started streaming across the sea and through the Balkans, they quickly became Europe’s problem, especially for Germany and other prosperous member states.

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