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Turkey and EU to Break Up

Walter Russell Mead

The European Parliament isn’t usually a place where news is made, but the vote on ending accession talks with Turkey marks an important geopolitical turning point—and is another sign that the Clash of Civilizations is winning the race with the End of History for the most important trend of the 21st century. The NYT:

The European Parliament is likely to vote on Thursday to suspend negotiations to bring Turkey into the European Union, infuriating Ankara and possibly hastening the end of a long and troubled process.

While the vote is advisory rather than binding, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is smarting from European criticism of its crackdown on opponents and on the news media after a failed coup attempt in July. So it has suggested that, in any event, it might pull out of the process altogether if there were no progress by the end of the year. Such progress now seems improbable.

It is also yet another sign of the collapse of once bright hopes that Turkey’s AK Party would usher in an era of “moderate, democratic and Islamist” political movements.

It’s clear that today’s Turkey has no place in the European Union. Mass arrests of journalists and academics make a mockery of the government’s proclaimed dedication to democratic principles. At the same time, to be fair to the Turks, few in Europe understand the pressures that threaten Turkey—three million refugees from Syria, unrest in the Kurdish regions, and a polarized domestic political and religious climate.

It would be inaccurate to talk of “Texit” as Turkey hadn’t joined the EU, but the aspiration to become a part of the Union has long been a lodestar of Turkish politics. The collapse in support for a “European vocation” speaks to deep changes in Turkey’s psychology. The country is moving away from the West, and is engaging more and more deeply in the politics of the Middle East.

Turkey’s Islamist rulers seem to be opting for an Islamic rather than a European future; the consequences will be felt in many ways across the region and the world.

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