"Today, Turkey hardly stands as a positive example for democratic reformers in the Middle East. The [ruling] AKP’s democratic reforms in the early 2000s attracted much international praise and some emulation. But the democratic reform process stopped around 2005 and went into reverse following the AKP’s third electoral victory in 2011. Today, the AKP seems intent on pushing for a hyper-presidential system of government. This is widening Turkey’s social polarization and eroding the country’s already weak system of checks and balances. Violence in the southeast of the country continues to escalate, with decreasing prospects of a revitalized peace process. The EU is increasingly turning a blind eye to Turkey’s democratic regression in return for cooperation on controlling the flow of Syrian refugees and other migrants entering Europe," writes Senem Aydin-Düzgit for Foreign Policy.
"Human rights and humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International and the UN refugee agency have criticized the EU’s attempt to outsource the burden of refugee reception and protection to Turkey. In particular, they doubt whether Turkey is a safe third country along the lines of the criteria mentioned in article 38 of the new 2015 Asylum Procedures Directive that contains the principles and procedures to be respected when dealing with potential refugees, including the principle of non-refoulement. Many human rights activists have voiced concerns about the fate of Syrian-Kurdish refugees in case they are returned to Turkey without policies articulating safeguards in the host country. Another concern lies in the fact that Ankara does not apply the 1951 Geneva Convention—the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, his or her rights, and the legal obligations of states, including the one of nondiscrimination—to non-Europeans, and its asylum and reception system still has many gaps in coverage," writes Silvia Colombo for the Council of Councils, a CFR initiative.
"The original sin of the European project is that, Brussels notwithstanding, there is no European constituency. Events, policies, and challenges are all viewed through a national lens. The refugee crisis has brought this into sharp relief; but every stress on the European system brings to the fore nationalist perspectives. And why shouldn’t this be the case? After all, political accountability – not to mention tax money – flows from citizens to the national capitals. But the split between the EU and national governments is a false one. Subsidiarity, properly applied and understood as decision-making power at the appropriate level of government, is and must remain a guiding principle of European action. There are, however, times when collective action is needed. For such action to be effective, the EU level cannot be a place for scapegoating and bloviating," writes Ana Palacio for Project Syndicate.