The Istanbul Convention may become the new rupture point between the European Union and Turkey. Gender rights are just starting to be a battleground in Turkey, Poland and beyond.
Once-bustling Istanbul office of Turkey’s EU Affairs Ministry turns into a shisha cafe; thousands apply for an ad that seeks “gigolos for rich older women” and an online campaign #womenempoweringwomen turns to a “mirror mirror on the wall” contest.
A historic building in Istanbul's neighborhood that up until recently housed the Istanbul Office of the Secretariat General for EU Affairs has been transformed into a restaurant and shisha cafe. “There couldn't be a better example of spatial transformation that explains Turkey's political transformation,” wrote urban sociologist Yaşar Adanalı on Twitter posting before and after photos of the building.
Prior to the Hagia Sophia controversy, Turkey was already a “hot potato” issue both for the EU Commission and Germany. Some serious brainstorming has already been going on regarding what to do with Turkey as far as some EU countries are concerned.
In recent years and increasingly so, Turkey’s near abroad policy can be described assertive and defiant at best, foolhardy and hazardous at worst. For some, it is just looking for trouble almost all the time, everywhere. The latest addition to the list is the Azerbaijan-Armenia border skirmishes.
The European Union has updated its list of "safe countries" from which non-essential travel is allowed. The bloc has again excluded Turkey from the list. This also means that EU citizens who travel to Turkey will be placed under quarantine for 14 days when they go back to their country.
This step involving the Hagia Sophia has totally destroyed the deception that Turkey has preserved its multi-religious, multicultural and multi-identity features as a country. Since we have passed the expiry date of lies, what is next now? Is there another topic of victimization left?
EU foreign ministers condemned the Turkish government's decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque and called on Ankara "to urgently reconsider and reverse this decision." “This decision will inevitably fuel the mistrust, promote renewed division between religious communities and undermine our efforts at dialog and cooperation,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on July 13.
International relations look more and more like a marketing and sales activity. And yes, diplomacy, by default, looks at least to me, more and more like stand-up comedy.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Germany tells Turkey travel warning will be regularly reviewed, as Ankara asks EU to correct ‘mistake’
Germany will keep reviewing travel advice for Turkey, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 2, saying any decisions were coordinated with the EU and based on reliable data on infections and the health situation. Earlier, Turkey said that it is disappointed by the European Union's decision to exclude it from the list of countries recommended for non-essential travel.
The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in starting on July 1, and the list excludes Turkey due to soaring coronavirus infections.
The Blue Homeland doctrine is a product of Kemalist maritime officers. The nationalists realized that allying with Erdoğan would bring crucial advantages, such as using the radical Islamists as a proxy back and forth in Syria and in Libya, and forging military ties with Qatar and Somalia.
Ankara has been readying for Germany’s EU Presidency in its own way. The first thing on Ankara’s agenda is brokering and concluding a new migrant agreement with the EU, and doing so by gnawing away some serious concessions. We may translate this as “money talks”.
In 2016, the EU called in consultants from McKinsey company to implement the refugee deal signed with Turkey in an attempt to expedite asylum procedures. A newly released report by a network of NGOs however has raised concern that in the process of trying to make asylum process faster, refugees' rights to a fair asylum procedure could be compromised. The EU's own internal procurement watchdog later deemed the contract signed with McKinsey “irregular.”