While Emmanuel Macron peeps about diminutively, calling the real into question and conjuring social and economic utopias into existence with spells and slogans, there is a man for this season to whom Europeans, if they wish to remain so, should offer nothing but genuine gratitude. With every day that Mr. Erdoğan breathes, Turkey’s accession to the European Union becomes yet more of an impractical absurdity. The notion of accession talks, of the endless ‘Chapters’, is in any case fatuous and moribund; but it is kept afloat on a sea of political mendacity that the mandarins of the Union have made their very own Mare Nostrum.
While Emmanuel Macron is busy marketing virtual identity to the bewildered French, Mr. Erdoğan, nothing if not a patriot, is bending every effort to break off relations with the EU altogether. But it is all up to him. There is nothing, it seems, that the Europeans will in the end not submit themselves to. Witness the ‘deal’ that ‘stemmed the flow’ of migrants from Turkey to Greece. It is far more likely that the closure of the Balkan Route by Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia — the last-named an EU member — was responsible for what the Turks themselves probably could never deliver.
❝ And so on both counts, his domestic and foreign policy, and without a trace of irony, we good Europeans should respect and be quietly grateful to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish patriot.❞
But for his own part, Mr. Erdoğan knows that with a huge Turkish bridgehead already implanted in Europe, he can be confident that Turkey’s present influence will wear a path to hegemony in the longer term. Unless opposed by a European Realpolitik that shows no sign of emerging from the sticky swamp of abstract ‘values’ that has been assiduously laid down over forty years. In September 2015, Germany swallowed the fatal draught on behalf of all Europe. As in Socrates’ case, the potion will take a little time to work its logic. Brexit was perhaps in part a first symptom. Meanwhile, the flood of extrinsic culture from the Middle East into Europe, winked through by an indulgent Turkey, can act only as an accelerant to Mr. Erdoğan’s dream of an Ottoman revival well beyond the gates of Vienna.
And so on both counts, his domestic and foreign policy, and without a trace of irony, we good Europeans should respect and be quietly grateful to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish patriot. ◼︎