With so much volatility in the Middle East, a quiet rapprochement is in everyone’s interest
Remember how, during the Brexit referendum campaign, voters were told that “millions of Turks” would swamp Europe and Britain if it didn’t get out? Government ministers went on TV to say Turkey’s accession to the EU was just on the horizon, as a result of a refugee deal brokered between Angela Merkel and the Turkish government. Brexiters assured audiences that visa liberalisation for Turks was looming: the hordes were at the gates. None of that happened, of course. Nor is it about to.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Turkey is currently seeking to reset its relations with the EU – and it is doing so without winning visa-free travel to the bloc for its citizens, or signs of any progress in its EU accession negotiations. In a nutshell: it looks like the EU has played its cards rather well with this complex and antagonising partner. Surely that’s encouraging, at a time when Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and others want to put a positive spin on Europe’s prospects and insist it must start fending for itself more in the unpredictable world of Trump and Brexit.