Alternate Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas’s patriotic slip-up and the demands for his resignation from coalition partner and Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos and opposition New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis are not without significance on the domestic political scene, but they do nothing to help the management of the immigration crisis.
Of course Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could exploit the internal turmoil that has arisen since the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) decided to seal the country’s border with Greece. After all, a country begging to be admitted into the European Union, from which it already receives significant funding, should not be permitted to act unilaterally without weighing the negative impact of its choices. One would have expected a clear warning to have already been issued.
We cannot know whether ideological fixations are preventing Tsipras from adopting a hard line toward Skopje. And if our Balkan neighbor continues to persist with its position, then maybe Vienna should take on the funding of the regime in FYROM, which is under threat from the ambitions of the Albanians and Bulgarians.
The European Union-Turkey summit is more interesting than the problems in Southeastern Europe, and of all the objections that have been expressed by our sundry partners, only one is well-founded: Ankara’s refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus. This issue already dates back a few years, with the violent rebuffal of Nicosia’s objections by our EU partners and their support for Turkey. It is the only issue that must be settled before the EU signs a deal with Turkey.
Fears of Europe being inundated by Turks if they are allowed visa-free travel are exaggerated and largely unfounded. An uncontrollable inflow of refugees and migrants from North Africa is France’s true nightmare, not Turkish immigrants who will head mainly to the countries of Central and Northern Europe.
There is no doubt that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s system is authoritarian and that the country’s democratic deficit has grown in the past few years. But Turkey is already host to over 3 million refugees. In contrast, the nations of the Visegrad Group, which are members of the EU, refuse to take in the numbers agreed under a relocation scheme in the name of preserving their national and religious purity.
If the summit that begins on Thursday fails to reach a workable result, this will signal the beginning of the end of the European idea. The most likely scenario is that “some progress” will be made and a new summit will be called at a later date, because this is how Europe has been doing its business – so far at least.