Spotlight: Erdogan And EU, A Strongman And Weak Continent

Looking eastward from Western Europe, Turkey used to be seen as both a model of secular democracy in the Muslim world and a huge business opportunity. But longstanding hopes for Turkish entry into the European Union appear grimmer every day. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, apparently seeking to revive a form of "Ottoman glory," has led a slide into authoritarianism over the past decade, most recently seizing on the failed coup in July as a golden opportunity to crack down on any form of opposition. As Turkish journalist Ozgur Ogret recently wrote for Worldcrunch, "Turkey is on a one-way road to a one-party system, which is going to be glorified by an obedient media."

Coming as no surprise, the European Parliament voted today in favor of freezing talks on the country joining the EU: "Continuing with membership talks is not credible when we see a complete deviation from democracy and rule of law," Kati Piri, a Dutch MEP, said before the vote.

Still, the passage of the measure itself reveals the many contradictions and high stakes of European-Turkish relations. The result itself is purely advisory and nonbinding, while many in Europe — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel — have pointed to the necessity of maintaining good relations with Turkey. Most urgently, Turkey is both a member of NATO and is considered crucial in stemming the flow of refugees into Europe from the Middle East.

Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation conference in Istanbul yesterday, Erdogan dismissed the Parliament's debate even before it happened. "This vote has no value for us," he said. Once again, Erdogan's seemingly unshakeable stance says as much about the weakness of a divided Europe as it does about his own strongman ambitions.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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