Best columns: Europe
Pushing us into Russia’s arms
Turkey has had it with criticism from its NATO allies, said Melih Altinok. When Ankara announced last week that it was buying an airdefense system from Moscow, Western nations voiced alarm and claimed the weapons were incompatible with NATO systems. But what was Turkey supposed to do? Germany, a major arms partner, has delayed ratification of multiple deals; German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently announced that he had put a hold on major Turkish weapons requests because of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supposed authoritarian turn. Perhaps the “last straw” was when the U.S. banned arms sales to Erdogan’s bodyguards, claiming they had roughed up pro-Kurdish protesters in Washington. All of this comes after our NATO allies failed to wholeheartedly support Turkey following last year’s failed coup attempt against Erdogan— a plot the U.S. seemed to tacitly support. And the U.S. continues to arm Kurdish terrorists in Syria, claiming that they are important allies against ISIS. No wonder Turkey is looking “to reshape and diversify its defense policies.” If NATO does not give up its “intimidation policies,” Erdogan will simply move closer to Russia. Turkey won’t be bullied.
The true cost of accepting migrants
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)
The German government is being uncharacteristically cagey about just how much refugees are costing the nation, said Wolfgang Bok. Since 2014, 1.7 million people—most of them unskilled and uneducated—have applied for asylum in Germany, and “worried citizens are outraged” over the lack of information about how the country is coping. For a nation “that typically tots up the cost of every bolt and screw,” this suspicious dearth of hard data can only be explained by fear of what voters would say if they knew how vast the sums were. For example: The budget allots about $110 billion to provide for refugees from 2016 to 2020. Since Germany’s states say that covers just half their expenses, the true cost for that period is probably $210 billion. Even that sum does not include funding for thousands of new schools, much less the hiring of additional judicial and bureaucratic staff to process asylum requests. Nor does it include the cost of treating the “drastic increase in dangerous infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and AIDS, that have come into the country with the refugees.” Over their lives, these people will cost Germany hundreds of billions of dollars. That is “the elephant in the room” that everyone pretends not to see. ■