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Turkey blackmails EU with flow of illegal migrants

November 30, 2015, 16:55 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Santi Palacios

MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. The unprecedented flow of illegal migrants to Europe for which Turkey is largely responsible has given Ankara powerful leverage to exert pressures on the European Union. And this resource has already begun to be employed to squeeze financial assistance out of the European Union, polled experts told TASS.

Last Sunday’s urgent EU-Turkey summit in Brussels produced a concerted decision Ankara should be granted three billion euros over two years to come to render assistance to migrants it has accommodated and to reinforce external borders in order to stop the influx of more refugees. Also, as the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has said, Brussels will start considering the possibility of cancelling visas between the EU and Turkey by the autumn of 2016. In December, the European Union will begin another round of talks on Turkey’s admission, which has been an applicant for EU membership since 1999.

The head of the European political studies section at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nadezhda Arbatova, believes that the promise of three billion euros in aid to refugees is just the first result Ankara’s blackmail towards the European Union has achieved. "Turkey’s prime target in bargaining with Europe over the flow of refugees is to achieve progress in the EU admission talks, which have remained frozen since 2005," Arbatova said.

She believes that under the pressure of an unprecedented number of illegal migrants and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris the EU could not but agree to extend financial assistance to Turkey, which transits more than half of all refugees flocking into Europe. Turkey in fact has created a criminal industry to bring illegal migrants by sea to the coast of Europe’s southern countries. "In the current critical situation introducing a visaless regimen in relations with Turkey would be tantamount to opening the floodgates in Turkey in addition to the current migrant flow. The EU is unlikely to agree to this at least for another year," Arbatova believes.

She recalled that the Syrian-Turkish border remained open, although even Turkey’s ally Washington had more than once urged Ankara to close its external frontiers. "Turkey poses a threat to the European Union itself. A large number of militants of the Islamic State from the Middle East, North Africa and the North Caucasus make their way into Europe across the Turkish border," Arbatova recalls.

"As for the outlook for Turkey’s admission to the European Union, it looks very vague," she believes. In Ankara, political opponents of President Erdogan are being eliminated and opposition lawyers get killed. The opposition press is subject to repression. Purges in the army are underway. In other words, Turkey is unable to contest a place in the European Union by virtue of its internal political vector. Brussels will go ahead with attempts to appease Turkey with hefty financial infusions, such as refugee aid, thereby postponing cancellation of visas and Turkey’s admission to the EU as much as possible."

Arbatova said the shooting down of Russia’s Sukhoi-24 frontline bomber by the Turkish Air Force proved a scaring warning to both the European Union and NATO: Turkey in its drive for regional leadership may go very far. "Turkey is capable of blowing many more ‘kisses of death’ to Russia at least because Ankara and Moscow have conflicting interests in the Middle East," she said. "It is utterly unacceptable for Europe to see Turkey add another problem to EU-Russia relations. Nor is this acceptable to NATO, because Turkey hosts US nuclear weapons."

She recalled that the European Union was keen to break the vicious circle of relations with Russia. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit addressed Putin with a proposal for stepping up trading ties and restoring good relations. French President Francois Hollande visited Moscow last Thursday to discuss with Putin joint operations against the Islamic State.

After the terrorist attacks against a Russian passenger liner over Egypt and the Paris massacre Europe has realized that it is in the same boat with Russia, which opens up a new window of opportunities to cooperation after the solution of the Ukrainian crisis," she said.

Leading research fellow Stanislav Ivanov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Centre for International Security, believes that Turkey will now have to "work off" the three billion euros Brussels had agreed to provide in aid to refugees: "Ankara will have to close the border with Syria to militants and oil tanker trucks in conformity with EU and Washington’s demands. Otherwise, Russia will close the Syrian-Turkish border with the help of the Syrian government’s army and Kurdish militias."

"As for Turkey’s integration with the European Union, the discrepancies between legislations are so great and Ankara is so slow in complying with Brussels’s conditions that this process will take years or even decades to accomplish," Ivanov said.

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