Just before the Gulf war in 1990 (which he backed despite popular opposition), Turgut Ozal, then president of Turkey, squeezed into an army tank, posed for the cameras and proclaimed: "I am taking the shortcut to the European Community." A quarter-century later Turkey's dream of joining the European Union is all but dead. Denouncing the purges that followed July's brutal coup attempt, on November 24th the European Parliament called on EU leaders to freeze accession talks, which have been dragging on since 2005.
Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded the next day by threatening to open the route to Europe to the 3m refugees living on his side of the Aegean. "You have betrayed your promises," he said, referring to a deal with the EU that commits Turkey to harbouring the refugees in exchange for billions of euros in aid and a promise of visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens.