The Turkish-EU Agreement

I have not read the Turkish-EU Agreement for dealing with the situation of the migrant crisis in Europe, but from reports it is fairly clear what it entails.  The main problem for the EU is that the wave of migrants, mainly from Syria, but also from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, is overwhelming Europe and particularly the countries closest to Turkey, and these migrants are entering Greece and the EU illegally.  Since Turkey has already absorbed 2.6 million people, mostly Syrians, then it is a fact that Turkey is a safe place for them, and according to international law refugees are supposed to be registered for asylum in the first country they enter, which for all those migrants is Turkey.  So the EU has proposed and Turkey has agreed that all illegal migrants in the EU (those that have not yet been registered) will be returned to Turkey.  In exchange, Turkey will be given an extra 3 billion euros (making a total of 6 billion euros) to provide food and shelter for these migrants, and then the EU will take back an equal number of refugees, but only after they are registered in Turkey.  Then the countries of the EU can make a plan as to where the refugees can be settled according to an organized and legal process.

Can this plan work?  There are several potential big drawbacks: 1.  The return of the illegal migrants:  Can the EU and the world stand by and see approximately 500,000 migrants (most of them Muslims) forcibly returned from several Europeans countries, notably Greece?   This can be done, but it might involve the use of force and people might get killed and this could lead to all sorts of unforeseen consequences; 2. Is Turkey a safe country?: In principle Turkey seems to be safe, yet within Turkey there are terrorist attacks going on as well as a military campaign against the Kurds.  Also newspapers have been closed by the government and there is no freedom of the press and the Kurds are being deliberately persecuted.  Obviously for Kurdish migrants from Syria and Iraq, Turkey is not a safe haven. 3. What EU countries will agree to take refugees:  There needs to be an agreed and equitable allocation of refugees throughout Europe.  But, some countries have stated that they will not take any Muslim refugees, including Hungary, and some will take only a very small number, such as Britain that has mentioned 20,000. Also most of the refugees want to go to Germany, that already has taken in 1 million migrants, and they can’t all go there.

How this will work out in practice remains to be seen, but there is an acute need to remove the terrible camps in such border areas as Calais and Idomeni.   Basically, with naval forces on patrol, the main thrust of the agreement is to stop the flow of migrants into Europe. What the Turks will get out of this, including some special treatment in the EU, also remains to be seen.

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