Updates on the Turkey-EU Deal
By Ilayda Ozsan
Photograph of Refugees Courtesy of The Guardian
For the past year and a half, the Syrian refugee crisis has torn the EU apart, creating fiscal and social problems, and raising questions about freedom of movement, and safety, as well as about the EU itself. The solution that EU leaders stumbled upon seems to be a deal with Turkey. The solution appears to be pushing away the refugees far enough geographically that EU states can pretend that it is not their problem.
Turkey is a temporary home to an estimated 2.75 million refugees, many from the conflict in Syria. Since Turkey and the European Union reached an agreement on how to tackle the massive influx of refugees into Europe on March 8th, more refugees have been flooding into Turkey from European countries. In exchange for readmitting refugees from Greece to Turkey, the EU is expected to grant Turkish citizens the right to travel to the EU’s Schengen zone without a visa by end of June 2016. The Turkish government is also trying to secure the country’s EU membership.
Although the finer details of the deal are still under negotiation, the “one-for-one” agreement will allow one Syrian from a Turkish refugee camp to be settled in the EU, for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece. The one-for one agreement is also called “one-in, one-out” agreement, as Europe is trying to take the pressure off of Greece and provide shelter for refugees in a more controlled manner by relocating refugees from Turkey. Although the EU is very clear on the problems the flood of refugees causes, a question that needs to be asked is, how do they expect a country with a population of 75 million and $9,000 GDP per capita to deal with the same problem, as opposed to EU’s population of more than 500 million and $27,000 GDP per capita.
A key deadline for a section of the migration deal, a part of the larger Turkey-EU deal, which would grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel to the EU, is likely to be missed after fighting in the Ankara parliament. In order for Turkey to be granted visa-waivers for its citizens, it has to complete a list of 72 mandatory ‘benchmarks’ given by the European parliament in a set amount of time to satisfy their end of the deal. Disagreement between the ruling party AKP and pro-Kurdish MPs late on Wednesday 27th of March, resulted in Turkey’s parliament being suspended until Monday May 2nd, halting work on laws the Turkish parliament needs to pass if the European commission is to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel. The commission said that they will announce on May 4th if member states should agree to grant Turkey visa-free travel as part of the deal. “If they want to come close to the European Union so badly, let them prove that they can,” the former Dutch foreign minister said. “The distance between us and Turkey is not decreasing, it is increasing, because of human rights, the media and what is happening in civil society.”
“The feeling of lack of trust on the visa [liberalization] and on the camps [for refugees] is widespread, no one believes in it but we cannot say it openly because there is no alternative,” said an EU diplomat. Thus, it seems like the refugees are already being relocated towards Turkey and, according to the EU border agency Frontex, there is a significant decrease in the number of migrants arriving in Greece; however, the European Parliament may very well not keep up their part of the deal.
Photo courtesy of the Guardian