Another day, another dent in Germany’s frail governing coalition. With her back against the wall, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reversed her open-door migrant policy in order to rescue her coalition from dissolving permanently. She reached the compromise with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer after he threatened to resign, a move that would have likely splintered Merkel’s coalition for good. The agreement Merkel hammered out at the EU summit in Brussels last week did not satisfy Seehofer. He continued to press ahead with his threat to resign, pushing Merkel to the brink. When all is said and done, it could be that Seehofer may have overplayed his hand. Whether or not that is the case, it is clear that his political rebellion exposed the increasingly vulnerable chancellor to future attacks. There is blood in the water in Berlin.
The compromise agreed to by Seehofer and Merkel revolves around opening transit centers on the German-Austrian border. Migrants seeking to enter Germany will be held there until a decision is reached on their asylum status. If they are ultimately denied entry, they will be deported to the EU nation they originally registered in.
Before the compromise deal becomes reality, Merkel has to convince the Social Democrats (SPD) to support it. This will not be easy. SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles did welcome the deal, though she also stated that her party members have a number of questions on the details. At the peak of the European Migrant Crisis in 2015-16, SPD rejected the notion of transit centers on the border. Granted, the domestic political situation is strikingly different now, however, this time around there could still be some significant resistance to the idea of transit centers from SPD members.
In short, Merkel is not out of the woods yet. Her precarious balancing act atop a highwire has worked so far. Yet the longer it goes on, the chances that a single misstep will bring the coalition, and Merkel down, increase dramatically with each passing day.
The European Union’s 28 national leaders hammered out an eleventh hour deal on migration after twelve hours of talks. The deal, though somewhat vague, appears to be enough to appease German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rivals and keep her fragile coalition government in power for the time being.
The deal proposes screening potential asylum-seekers for their eligibility before they reach EU soil. Middle Eastern and North African nations that agree to set up screening centers will be granted EU financial aid to cover the costs. EU Leaders also agreed to toughen internal checks to prevent asylum-seekers from freely choosing an EU nation to apply for asylum. 3 Billion euros will also be paid to Turkey as part of the 2016 compensation deal with the Turkish government to pay for Ankara’s efforts at keeping migrants away from Europe.
The EU deal is less than perfect, though it does promote more stringent future efforts on the part of the union to contend with irregular migration from the Middle East and North Africa. Many questions remain unanswered, such as the timetable for implementation. How quickly the terms of the deal can be become reality will influence Merkel’s own political fortunes.
For now, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his allies appear to be satisfied with the EU deal, and what it will do to help correct Germany’s asylum policy woes. If there are any delays, or disruptions in implementing the deal, however, Merkel could pay a steep price. Seehofer still has to sell the deal to his party, the Christian Social Union. CSU will face a heavy challenge from the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in the coming October state election in Bavaria. If the party deems this deal to be ‘too little, too late’ Seehofer himself might be replaced as party head. The rumor mill in Berlin points to Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder as the next chairman if Seehofer falters.
If that scenario becomes reality, the CSU could bring Merkel’s brittle coalition government crashing down.
With time running out for a withdrawal agreement to be reached between Britain and the European Union, apprehension is rising in Brussels, and capital cities across Europe. Negotiations between Theresa May’s government and the EU appear to be going nowhere. The prospect of a no-deal Brexit being the end result continues to haunt both sides. A number of EU leaders have begun contingency planning, and serious preparation in case a no-deal Brexit becomes reality and Britain crashes out of the EU. National leaders are expected to begin ratcheting up the pressure on May, and emphasize that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for businesses in Britain, and in the EU alike. A preview of the line EU leaders will take with May was offered in Copenhagen on Wednesday. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, informed his parliament: “It is the first time we are saying clearly to the British that we can end, in the worst scenario, with no deal.”
Tomorrow night, May will speak at a dinner in Brussels as the EU Summit opens. She is expected to outline the intentions of the British government in the coming weeks regarding negotiations. There has been little progress made on key issues such as the Irish Border question, and the future of Gibraltar. Dissention in May’s cabinet has not helped matters at all. She is convening a meeting of her ministers at Chequers on Friday and the hope is that some sort of agreement can be reached.
For the EU, Brexit will be overshadowed by migration. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political fate could very well be decided at the upcoming summit. Failure to reach some type of agreement with other nations on migrants runs the risk of toppling the precarious German government.
It could very well end up being to May’s favor that the focus of Merkel, and other EU leaders is firmly fixed on the migration crisis, and not Brexit. Should this turn out to be the case, it will give May some much-needed time to get Britain’s ducks in a row before negotiations on Brexit resume in the future.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared victory in Turkey’s presidential election. The Anadolu Agency reports that 95.5% of votes have been counted, and Erdogan has a 52.72% share of the national vote. If accurate, this means Erdogan will avoid a one-on-one runoff election with opposition candidate Muharrem Ince. Erdogan’s victory expands the grip on power he currently has on Turkey, however, this was by no means an easy victory. Political opposition in Turkey has been revitalized to a degree, and this is something Erdogan will have to contend with in the coming months and years. Fortunately for him, the People’s Alliance, a coalition made up of Erdogan’s own Justice and Development Party (AKP) party, and the more conservative MHP party appears to have secured majority in parliament, giving him plenty of allies for any future political battles.
This election was unique in that it marked the first time Turkish voters have cast ballots for president, and parliament in a snap election. Erdogan had called for early elections in an attempt to neutralize opposition presidential candidates in the first round of the election, and obtain a parliamentary majority. At the moment it would appear that he has achieved both objectives, as well as ensuring that he will reap the benefits of enhanced presidential powers that the 2017 referendum are to give the winner of Turkey’s next presidential election. Erdogan had supported the referendum, and invested a large amount of political capital to ensure it passed.
So, what happens next? Erdogan has grandiose plans for Turkey, some of which make his neighbors uncomfortable. After the election results are officially certified, we will examine just what Erdogan’s victory means for Turkey, its neighbors, NATO, and the world.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton will be visiting Moscow in the coming week to try and lay groundwork for a meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin next month. Trump will be in Europe then for a NATO summit in Brussels, and then a state visit to Great Britain. The proposed mini-summit of sorts between the two leaders is the latest attempt by the White House to build a friendlier relationship with Russia. Earlier this month at the G7 Summit in Quebec, Trump tried unsuccessfully to convince the other members to readmit Russia, which was suspended in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea. Relations between the US and Russia have been cold for quite some time, though there has been a large amount of backchannel discussion between the two nations over security concerns, namely Syria.
It is worth noting that there are no plans to include European leadership in a potential July talks. The exclusion of EU members, and NATO allies sends a blunt message to Europe about the reemergence of US leadership on the global stage, and the current state of relations between the United States and Europe. The Trump administration does not intend to be encumbered by European actions and interests, or be bound by a lack of consensus among its European allies. Right now, Washington and Europe have significant disagreements on a host of issues including security, trade, and immigration. There’s little chance an overall agreement could be reached right now on how to approach Russia.
Therefore, the United States sees fit to take the lead.