Turkey’s European problem

Turkey’s European problem

Many European nations that are less than friendly toward refugees today on the grounds of cultural and religious differences also failed their humanity test toward masses of people fleeing conflict and injustice before, during, and in many cases after World War II. 

There are harebrained ideas emanating from these very same countries today, where some politicians say – no doubt with significant public support – that the refugees should all be loaded on boats and shipped back to Turkey.

There are even European presidents who oppose providing material help to Turkey, which is trying to cope with over twice the number of refugees that have entered Europe. “These people are all Muslim, let them go to a Muslim country, and let the Muslim world look after them,” they argue with a bitter logic.

Some European politicians are going so far as to say that refugees should be shot at the border to stop them entering the country. All of these arguments are accompanied by an attempt to demonize the refugees as a whole because of the criminal activities of a few, in order to say, “These people have no place in Europe.” 

Even this carries overtones of events in Europe 70-80 years ago. Self-righteous Europeans like to engage in “Mea Culpa” as long as those “culpable” are from a different generation. But when faced with similar situations, many members of the present generation behave in the same manner as their parents and grandparents did.

What we see again is human nature at its worst. So much so that a French cartoonist can go so far as to lampoon the body of a drowned refugee infant by suggesting that he would have grown up to become a sexual deviant attacking European women. The fact that he does this in the name of “superior European values,” by citing the right to free expression, is – needless to say – sickening.

Most European countries merely want to dump their refugee problem on someone else’s doorstep, even if that “someone else” is another European country.  The notion of European unity is in tatters. It is up to Europeans to work out how they will restore their self-appointed sense of moral superiority after this crisis. 

The bottom line, however, is that Europe is faced with a problem that will not go away simply because it wants it to. There are endless television debates where influential Europeans underline this. 

Turkey is also faced with a serious refugee problem. Despite the government’s claim to be doing its moral duty in this regard, Ankara does not know how it will proceed in trying to solve this problem and is trying to cope with piecemeal precautions. 

Turkey is not immune to the inhuman behavior we see in Europe either. Despite being mostly Muslim, Syrian refugees have also been demonized in Turkey, and the years 2014 and 2015 saw many attacks against them across the country for one reason or another. 

Turks also listen to what Europeans are saying and are worried that Europe will send hundreds of thousands of refugees back to Turkey, even if this is not true. An impromptu online survey by daily Hurriyet last week showed that the majority of respondents are also prepared to forgo the privilege of visa free travel to Europe, which is being promised in return for Turkey’s readmitting refugees that have gone to Europe. 

What ultimately lies at the core of Turkey’s problem, however, is Europe’s inability to come up with a unified position to solve this crises in an equitable manner, by also cooperating meaningfully with Ankara. 

The measures agreed on so far appear to be merely palliative. Until all the sides concerned stop bickering about the matter, and come up with real solutions fast, real progress in trying to resolve this problem equitably will remain elusive.