The Sick Man of Europe, personified by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has made it clear that a ‘strong Turkey’ at the gates of Europe is possible only under a dictatorial regime. But this ambition poses serious threats to Europe. The first consists of a new wave of out-migrants and asylum-seekers escaping regime brutality in the country. The second relates to state-led mobilisation and espionage activities among the ‘Turkish’ diaspora in Europe, with increasing evidence of polarisation within already fractured migrant communities. The third is escalating xenophobia in the rhetoric of Turkish officials, who have been attempting to humiliate European officials and treating European governments and institutions with contempt.
Their fear of ‘losing a strategic partner’, has caused Europe to turn a blind eye to regime atrocities in Turkey. Since 2005, Europe has remained largely silent in the teeth of Turkish official discourse that has demonised domestic opponents as plotters in the service of European/western interests. Europe has also remained silent against the AKP elite’s use of law as an instrument for settling political scores with opponents. Europe has been silent too as the Turkish state supported and collaborated with Jihadi terror groups to destabilise Syria. Finally, Europe remained largely silent when AKP officials (including the president and the prime-minister) have uttered irredentist claims against other neighbours such as Iraq and Syria.