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Turkey

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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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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