Press TV has conducted an interview with Jeffrey Steinberg, senior editor at Executive Intelligence Review, about European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's call on Turkey to meet all requirements for access to EU’s visa-free travel zone.
Here is a rough transcription of the interview:
Press TV: How do you feel about the EU insisting on these reforms take place in Turkey before it is given visa-free travel?
Steinberg: I think that this is something that Turkey is going to find almost impossible to agree to because in effect Europe is demanding a process of democratization and human rights freedoms that lie in the face of everything that President Erdogan has done since the coup attempt and the crackdown that’s followed from that.
So, I think this could be a deal-breaker unless the EU, which is quite possible, is willing to have a kind of a pro forma agreement and then ignore the fact that Turkey absolutely makes no efforts to actually implement it.
Press TV: It seems that Turkey has the upper hand here, doesn’t it, because again the EU does want that refugee flow to be stopped, doesn’t it?
Steinberg: That is right and of course this has been consistently the situation. Remember Erdogan essentially did a six-billion-euro shakedown of the European Commission, demanded that that would be the payoff to Turkey in order for Turkey to go along with any of the agreements to stop the refugee flow and I think that it is important to note the Turkish military incursion into northern Syria has gone way beyond what Erdogan promised Joe Biden when he was there a while back and I think that the Turks are preparing to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria which is where they plan to stash the refugees rather than keep them inside Turkey.
Press TV: So then do you think that the EU has a Plan B or it just needs to make this work with Turkey?
Steinberg: I think that the EU typically takes a principled stand with no intention of ever enforcing it and so I think that is pretty much the situation that we are going to see happen here.
Europe has a number of major crises, the bank crisis, the economic crisis have not been settled, the Brexit issue poses new unknown challenges and a flood of another million refugees or even having to maintain the existing refugees inside Europe is something that is such an added burden that the Europeans will frankly do anything to avoid that.
So yes, Turkey, Erdogan, has the Europeans over the barrel and I can assure you he is well aware that that is the situation.