Erdogan has threatened to ”open the gates” for migrants if the EU reneges on commitments to provide aid, visa-free travel for its nationals and accelerated membership talks.

Is Turkey blackmailing the EU?

The President of Turkey has initiated elections to take place on April 16, that would expand his powers into what many claims will become a status of a Dictator. If he wins the elections, he will rule without opposition. The purge of opposition supporters during and after the so-called coup attempt and his continuous war against the Kurdish people have catapulted him into a ruler that is to be feared. With 4,6 million Turkish citizens living in Western European countries, Erdogan needs their votes to push through his referendum. So he has dispatched his senior officials to hold rallies across Europe to get out the vote.

There has been a massive pushback in Europe with the Dutch revoking landing rights to the plane carrying the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday. Mr. Cavusoglu earlier said he would visit Rotterdam on Saturday, despite a ban on him to address a rally there. He warned Turkey would impose heavy sanctions if his visit were blocked.  There was also uncertainty about whether an event he was due to attend in Zurich, Switzerland, on Sunday would go ahead after one venue refused to hold it. Another event in Zurich scheduled for Friday and featuring a senior official was canceled, as were rallies in the Austrian towns of Hoerbranz, Linz, and Herzogenburg. The Dutch and Austrian governments have also criticized the Turkish government’s drive to take its referendum campaign to Turks based in EU countries.

Relations between Turkey and European countries have deteriorated since last July’s attempted coup in Turkey. Germany has been critical of the mass arrests and purges that followed – with nearly 100,000 civil servants removed from their posts.

Many European nations have expressed concern about Turkey’s response to the coup attempt and its perceived slide towards authoritarianism under President Erdogan. Similar meetings in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland have also been banned. The cancellations in Germany led Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accuse Berlin of “Nazi practices.”

So the blackmail threat is they will open the doors for more migrants to land on the Greece islands if the EU doesn’t allow the rallies to move forward. The EU is being overrun with migrants, most traveling through Turkey to reach Greece and the EU borders. The EU worked out a scheme, whereby Turkey would stop the flood of migrants from Syria, etc., for payments of state aid and remove visa travel restrictions for Turks into the EU.

How and when did Turkey gain so much power?

Turkey is arguably growing into the next world power. For the last fifty years, Turkey has embarked on a systematic and robust infrastructure building program that has spurred exceptional growth. The new modern bridge across the Bosporus and the new Marmaray tunnel under the Bosporus are the reasons why the West is jealous of Turkey, declared Recep Tayyip Erdogan last May. The extensive building projects in and around Istanbul, new airport, a new Eurasia motor transport tunnel connecting Asia with Europe, hundreds of new modern buildings, a construction industry second only to China are visible icons of their growth. Turkey is also carrying out a major motorway expansion project, with the 2200-km network as of 2013 set to expand to 9680 km by 2035, according to the General Directorate of Highways. Another key project is the City Hospitals initiative. The program is valued at 12 Billion Euro and will build or expand 60 hospitals across the country, in collaboration with the private sector that has already contracted for 17 hospitals under the public-private contracts.

Another large project in the works is the 1850-km Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (Tanap), which began construction in April 2015. When completed in 2019 at an estimated cost of $10bn, it will carry gas all the way across Turkey from Kars in the north-east, where it will tie into the existing South Caucasus pipeline carrying gas from the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, to its border with the EU in Eastern Thrace, where it will tie into the planned Trans-Adriatic Pipeline running through Greece and Albania to Italy.

The Ataturk Dam, Photo copyright Craig Rawlings, 2015

However, one of the most significant endeavors is the construction of new dams. With over 324 operational dams, including the massive Ataturk Dam that, as the large canals are being finished, will carry the water across the southern desert land, turning the land that only fed goats and sheep, into rich agriculture farmland. Water and plenty of sunshine, with soil that has been dormant forever and is rich in minerals, the dessert is springing with new life.

Extensive plains of backwater behind the Ataturk Dam, Photo copyright Craig Rawlings, 2015

In the Southeastern Anatolia Region, 20 dams are built, 12 under construction and 4 planned. 41 dams exist, and 1 is under construction in the Mediterranean Region, in southern Turkey. There are 50 dams in the Marmara Region, northwest of Turkey. 40 dams are located in the Eastern Anatolia Region. 75 dams are in the Central Anatolia Region. 53 dams exist in the Black Sea Region, the northern part of Turkey and the Aegean Region, the western part of Turkey; there are 45 dams.

Hundreds of valley’s and towns are now under water

Most of the dams provide hydroelectric power and provide modern community water resources, in addition to irrigation. The new projects in the Southeastern Anatolia region will provide irrigation water to vast desert lands across all southern Turkey. Turkey already grows enough food to feed itself. Therefore, food exports will grow exponentially.All of this power is what is feeding Erdogan to stand up to the EU and the US.

Showing off their new clothes with new irrigated farmland in the background. Photo copyright Craig Rawlings, 2015

    2017-03-11 19:27:48 by Gary R.
    Where does NATO come into play? Is Turkey part of NATO? And if the threat is that real, what do you think the EU will do?
    2017-03-12 07:28:29 by Craig Rawlings
    I have saved the NATO connection for an upcoming article. It is very tricky and complicated, but as you point out, very, very important. Especially given two of the most powerful dictators are now working together. The questions are, what did Putin give up to get the contracts for the new Nuclear power stations? What secret agreements did they make in regards to the war in Syria? Stay tuned to learn more.
    2017-03-13 14:59:04 by B
    One thing to mention is popular Turkish Fethullah Gulen of the Hizmet movement + Islamic school network based in the USA. Suspected of being part of the 2016 coup plotters “I agree that it’s a parallel state. At the beginning, our goal was to educate people in religion and morality, but the movement went political when it got bigger. Gulen changed and turned to politics and wanted to be a leader who can rule Turkey. We started on our road together with a spiritual message, but now it’s only secular. He should go back to it,”
    2017-03-13 18:00:01 by Editor
    B = Good article on Gulen. If he is right and Gulen, working with the CIA really had a hand in this ill-conceived coup attempt, then it will be the most embarrassing failure ever. It could be they handed a dictatorship to Erdogan on a silver platter. It is hard to imagine this is the case. The false flag idea is sill probably the most likely. Time will tell.
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