Later this week, EU leaders will meet to discuss their recovery plan. They will spend a few minutes on Brexit. EU heads of government look with disbelief at Boris Johnson’s announcement that he will break international law to appease the Brexit obsessives in his party.
But there is nothing Europe can do to cure Britain’s Brexit virus.
Russia is back on the agenda with the confirmation of the attempted murder via poison of Putin’s chief opponent, Alexei Navalny. And across the frontier, the democratic uprising in Belarus will get an airing.
But today, by far the biggest threat to Europe – in terms of a foreign power that is threatening EU territory and almost everything Europe says it seeks to project as its values – comes from Turkey.
Speaking in Athens last week, the former French president, Francois Hollande, laid out his concerns about Turkey.
For Hollande, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now known in diplomatic circles as “The Sultan”, was a threat to Europe. He has led Turkey to economic ruin and now has to beat the nationalist drum, urging the restoration of Ottoman empire glory, in order to divert people’s attention from rising economic problems.
Hollande’s charge sheet includes multiple accusations: Erdogan is seeking to militarise the eastern Mediterranean; he has breached Nato obligations by buying Russian missiles; he has imprisoned hundreds of journalists and political opponents; he is obsessed with Islamism, promoting Islam in Europe and has converted two of the finest Byzantine Christian cathedrals in Istanbul into mosques; he flagrantly interferes in the politics of European countries including France and Germany, holding giant political rallies and insisting that Turkish EU citizens owe loyalty only to Turkey; his adventurism in Syria and his war on the Kurds are dangerous; his alliance with Libya was an act of aggression.
Hollande’s line was music to the ears of Greek ministers attending the conference. Nikos Dendias, the Greek foreign minister, insisted that Greece wanted to work with Erdogan, but only once the threat to the territorial integrity of the island nations of Greece was lifted.
Greece and Cyprus have been trying to get more support from the EU. Britain, with its pro-Turkish prime minister, is no longer a player, to the disappointment of British Hellenophiles.