Ten years ago, Turkey was begging the EU and asking for an acceleration of its accession process in order to become a member. Nowadays, the EU begs Turkey to stem the flow of refugees coming into Europe, fleeing the war in Syria to get asylum in EU countries. The reversal situation is a pity for the EU and its member-states, which are incapable of proposing a common response to the refugees crisis.
the EU was declared to have a Judeo-Christian heritage unlike Turkey
Let’s go back to 2007. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, with a fast growing economy. Erdoğan was seen as a democrat willing to get Turkey into the EU and doing reforms with that in mind. However, the EU and its member states were against such a scenario; some of the most influential member states did not want Turkey in the club. Among others, France and its former President Nicolas Sarkozy were strongly reluctant to a Turkish membership. At that time, the EU refused to accelerate the Turkish accession process. The reasons were diverse: Cyprus was against a Turkish accession because of the political situation on the island caused by the control of half of Cyprus by a Turkish-led government; EU member-states were afraid of a flow of poor Turkish peasants willing to work in the EU for economic reasons; the EU was declared to have a Judeo-Christian heritage unlike Turkey; and the biggest EU countries did not want Turkish accession to modify the fragile institutional equilibrium in European institutions. At that time, Turkey was doing well and its accession process could have been fulfilled as fast as the Croatian one but the EU was unwilling.
Freedom of press is also at risk in Turkey
Today, in 2016, Turkey is still far from getting the EU-membership. Erdoğan, now President of Turkey, is turning into an autocratic President nicknamed “The Sultan” by European newspapers. He pays little attention to human rights and to minorities’ rights (especially the Kurds). Freedom of the press is also at risk in Turkey. On top of this, the Turkish security situation is tricky; Turkey suffered numerous attacks in Ankara, in Diyarbakir and in Istanbul and is hosting three million Syrian refugees. Erdoğan has also declared war on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) which has led to a situation approaching civil war in Southeast Turkey.
In spite of all this, the EU has never seemed so close to Turkey. The 28 member-states negotiated with Turkey the entire month of March, aiming to find a solution to manage the refugee crisis. Finally they agreed on a deal, more in line with Erdogan’s political ambitions to join the EU than Turkey’s social and economic interests. Amongst the Turkish conditions, was the reopening of its accession process. The EU accepted Turkish conditions and the deal came into force on April 4th, but it is criticized by NGOs because it doesn’t fit the international law criteria.
This deal denies all the values that made the European project.
In ten years, the EU-Turkey relations have reversed completely; Turkey is now the dominating party in the relationship and the EU gives up its values by negotiating with an autocratically ruled Turkey. The deal denies all the values that lay the foundation for the European project, but it also symbolises the EU’s failure at managing a threat to its very existence. The Union won’t collapse any time soon, even if the UK leaves, but the EU could break apart slowly if it fails to propose a strong and inclusive narrative. The refugee crisis is just one of the crises the EU is facing and it doesn’t justify giving up core values of the European Union. The twists and turns of negotiations between the EU and Turkey has demonstrated how fragile the EU is today. What the EU needs is a resilient approach and respect for its values.
Opening the doors to refugees fleeing the war in Syria and closing the door to Turkey as long as Erdoğan will continue his megalomania could be the first response to the European citizens’ will of a strong and respected EU showing that nationalist isolation is not the panacea.
 President of the French Republic from 2007 to 2012
 Croatia is a EU member-state since 2013 and its accession process started in 2004.