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Last year was definitely not a good year! The corona pandemic claimed more lives worldwide, Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine not only meant the suffering and death of many people, it was also responsible for an economic and financial crisis, the consequences of which are not yet foreseeable. As expected, the World Cup in Qatar became a political issue, which was not only directed against the inhumane policies of the ruling family there, but also once again made it clear how corrupt FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino really are.
There should now be no annual review for 2022. Rather, we want to try to look into the crystal ball, what challenges there will be for our subject areas this year, and which aspects we will also have a closer look at.
Priorities cannot already be defined today. The situation in Israel, with a new government that also includes extremists, will be viewed with concern. Geopolitics is constantly changing, especially after an “annus horribilis” 2022.
Therefore, we first look at our home crisis area, the EU, and Erdogan’s fateful year in Turkey.
The bribery and corruption scandal, now better known as “Qatargate”, is set to continue this year. The public prosecutor’s office in Brussels continued to work diligently during the holidays to uncover further backgrounds and people involved.
In the meantime, it seems to be becoming increasingly clear that the number of politicians involved is increasing and that not only Qatar played a major role in the bribery of European elected officials, but also the Kingdom of Morocco. Likewise, the name of a South African oligarch keeps coming up, who apparently was also involved in this lousy game at EU level.
So far, there is no evidence that corruption and bribery in favor of Qatar have also become part of the political opinion-forming in other EU institutions, but the responsible public prosecutor’s office is already examining the EU Commission. It can be assumed that other NGOs will also be examined more closely.
One consequence of the scandal will certainly be that the EU Parliament and its members will in future examine their interlocutors and organizations from the field of “advocacy” more closely before meetings and events; the Parliament’s lobbying register has already been adjusted here.
Migration and refugee movements
All current data from the responsible authorities of the EU member states assume that in 2023 a sharp increase in migration movements to the EU can be expected. The EU must react to this. It’s not just about the growing number of refugees from the MENA region, from Afghanistan or Iraq, the African continent. Rather, those responsible in the EU institutions fear that there could be a challenge to the efforts to further deepen the European idea, that more governments in the member states are taking a Euro-critical course, that international legal norms on human rights are being called into question.
It should finally be clear to at least a majority of those responsible in the EU and the member states that there can only be a common European solution, based on international legal norms and that the ongoing isolation of Europe cannot be expedient.
Economy and Energy
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown many EU countries how dangerous it can be to become dependent on a despotic regime. At the same time, the emerging climate collapse is forcing us all to finally rethink. The European prosperity of the last 50 years cannot be preserved without us all having to pay a price that will presumably lead to catastrophe. Many experts are now saying that the EU countries, especially Germany, could slide from one dependency to the next: the liquefied gas deal with Qatar has given Europe a new boost in resources, but the contract has been extended for several years at the urging of the Qataris. A first foretaste of a possible dependency was already apparent shortly after the soccer World Cup in the desert state: the emir of Qatar forbade further criticism of his emirate from the German federal government, with further critical words the gas contract could be terminated unilaterally.
It remains to be seen how the European Union will adapt its political actions to the new circumstances in the upcoming months. In particular, the political consequences of Qatar will show whether the EU and its member states will find a concept for the dilemma of “values versus economic interests”.
The forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Türkiye this year have already led to upheavals last year, both domestically and externally. Erdogan’s power seems to be faltering at the moment, which could lead him to take even more aggressive action against critics and potential competitors at home. The sultan’s biggest competitor, the mayor of Istanbul, has already had a foretaste: he is to be silenced with a fake court case and his participation in the elections prevented.
The pressure on Erdogan is increasing: the economy and inflation are bringing more and more citizens to their knees, and the Syrian refugees are being portrayed as a threat to the country’s stability. Similar to other autocrats, Erdogan is now trying to flee to the front. He announces a new military aggression in northern Syria, further restricts freedom of the press and freedom of speech at home by means of laws, wants to continue being a dialogue partner for the dictator in Moscow and is blackmailing Europe with possible new migration waves.
But not only migrants from crisis areas who have found protection in Türkiye so far are threatened with exodus: EU countries have recorded an increased number of Turkish citizens fleeing the country and seeking protection in the EU in recent weeks. The interior ministries in the west fear that this number could rise sharply in 2023.
Ahead of Türkiye’s elections, Erdogan and his AKP are expected to launch campaigns abroad, aimed at indoctrinating Turks living in Western Europe into turning them against the societies in which they live. Turkish umbrella organizations in countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and Scandinavia will also do everything possible to silence critical voices within the Turkish communities. Erdogan is once again driving his critics before him, at home and abroad.
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