Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt delivered a scathing critique of the European Union’s reaction to the failed coup attempt in Turkey, asking whether Brussels was “asleep or just ignorant?”
In his column for Politico titled 'Europe, Stand up for Erdogan', Bildt said EU leaders had “responded tepidly” to July's attempted coup, which Turkey has repeatedly said was carried out by supporters of US-based Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) leader Fethullah Gulen.
“There was no sign of senior EU representatives afterwards flying [to] Turkey in support of an accession country facing the gravest threat to its constitutional order yet,” Bildt wrote.
“Instead, Europe’s leaders immediately began to question measures taken by the Turkish authorities to cleanse from power any elements thought to be associated with the Gulen movement.”
“When Turkey asked for derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights, EU leaders howled with disapproval, forgetting that France did the same after the November terror attacks in Paris. There is no question that Turkey has the right to, and indeed must, take measures to safeguard itself against forces trying to topple its constitutional order,” he added.
Bildt, who served as prime minister from 1991 to 1994 and as foreign minister from 2006 to 2014, underlined that a successful coup would have resulted in “major bloodshed on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as coup forces tried to suppress opposition demonstrations.” According to Bildt, the outbreak of a full-blown civil war was also a possibility.
He said the ensuing chaos would have resulted on more disruption throughout Europe.
“Millions of Turkish citizens fleeing violence, chaos and death would have joined the more than 2 million Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey in setting sail for Europe. The EU would now be facing a refugee disaster of even larger magnitude than in 2015,” he added.
Bildt, who is also the co-chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations also said Europe risked “losing its moral authority if it does not appear particularly engaged in dealing with the coup itself.”
“The EU would be in a far better position today if EU leaders had gone to Turkey immediately to express their horror at the coup, congratulate the people of Turkey for defeating it and sit down with the president, the government, the leaders in the Grand National Assembly and others to discuss how to collectively ensure a democratic and European path for Turkey.”