By Edmond Y. Azadian
Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe, thus anointing Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of the European Union. For a long time, the EU leadership was shared in tandem with France. But France’s economic decline and its awkward grappling with the issue of terrorism have relegated the country to the level of an ordinary member of the EU.
France’s 10-percent unemployment rate and its struggle to maintain its generous entitlements regime have almost sealed President Francois Hollande’s fate as a one-term president.
Germany’s Iron Lady has been leading EU single-handedly. Germany’s stature has empowered her to behave like an emperor, especially in her deals with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which had thus far been accepted uniformly throughout the EU. Her agreement with President Erdogan to staunch the flow of Middle Eastern refugees was hailed as a success story, because the alternative would have been the destruction of visa-free Europe (Schengen).
In her quest for political expediency, she made too many concessions to Turkey, beginning with the reversal of her position on the latter’s admission as an EU member, along with six billion euros as compensation to Ankara to care for the refugees. She even compromised Germany’s right to free speech, giving the green light to Erdogan to sue a German comedian making fun of him, dusting off an antiquated law.
Chancellor Merkel’s deals with Turkey were based on false premises; she, like many European leaders, shies away from the root causes of the refugee problem, choosing to put a Band-Aid on the wound rather than treat it.