In 2004, the EU made Turkey an official candidate for membership, but the process of bringing the country into the union subsequently stalled. Now, Angela Merkel has finally declared in public that Ankara doesn’t have a place in Europe. Michael Totten explains that this should have been clear for some time:
The notion that Turkey might conceivably fit inside the EU has always been a bit of a stretch, and it has been especially ludicrous since last summer when a botched coup attempt triggered a Stalinist spasm in Ankara. Within just a couple of weeks, Erdogan fired more than 20,000 private-school teachers and almost 10,000 police officers. He suspended nearly 3,000 judges and arrested more than 10,000 soldiers. He canned tens of thousands of officials from the Ministry of Education and ousted 1,500 university deans. He closed more than 100 media outlets and suspended more than 1,500 officials in the Ministry of Finance.
And from there, it only got worse. In April, Turkish voters narrowly decided to scrap their parliamentary system and replace it with one that gives vast new powers to the president. . . .
One Westerner after another [had nonetheless] convinced himself that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was a Western-style socially conservative capitalist party, an Islamic version of Germany’s Christian Democrats or the Republicans in the United States. (Many of the same people made the same mistake about Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its ill-fated president Mohammad Morsi.) . . .
Erdogan isn’t . . . in the same time zone as Islamic State. He is, however, in the same time zone as Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez, minus the Bolivarian socialism, and as Vladimir Putin in Russia and Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. All are (or in Chavez’s case were) authoritarian demagogues with just a veneer of democratic legitimacy, the kind of rulers often produced by nations that are influenced in part by the West while at the same time standing outside it.
European officials almost certainly know, to a person, that Turkey can never join Europe after what happened last year. . . . Westerners kidded themselves about Erdogan and Turkey for years.