President Erdogan is no stranger to blackmailing the EU. He has previously used migrants as a ‘loaded gun’ with which to threaten European leaders. The message is clear: do what I say, or I’ll open the floodgates. This week, he’s been back to his old tricks – bashing the EU and making it clear that if membership talks failed, Turkey would open its borders and allow its three million refugees to stream into Europe. But what sparked this latest resurgence of fighting talk from Erdogan?
The clue lies in the vote last week in Strasbourg, when 479 MEPs backed a decision to halt the process of Turkey’s EU accession. This seemed like a long-due reaction, given recent events in Turkey, where Erdogan has responded to the botched July coup by locking up some 30,000 people, sacking 10,000 civil servants and tightening his grip on the media.