Turkey – EU Deal Confirmed, But Will it Hold? Will it Work?
So this evening March 16th 2016, the EU agreed with Turkey terms for a 1-in-1-out deal to stem the Refugee Crisis flooding into Europe.
Under the arrangement with Turkey, as of midnight Sunday 20th March all refugees/migrants arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos will be sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim is rejected. In return the EU will take (ONLY) Syrian refugees currently in Turkey. But only up to a cap of 72,000.
So I see the first floor in this agreement, when there is over 2.7million refugee/migrants in Turkey at present with more arriving every day. At least half are not Syrian, which leaves nearly 1.5million refugee/migrants stuck in Turkey with the will and determination to get across into Europe, so how is this actually going to stop the want and need for refugees/migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and other war torn countries in Africa etc? Also the smuggler ring in Turkey alone have been enjoying a $4billion illegal industry each year for too long to just accept things and give it all up!
At grass roots level in law enforcement and higher even are often taking back hander’s to look the other way to the smugglers setting the boats off from the Turkish shores. Again these authority figures have been living well from the refugee crisis and the smuggling for far too long also.
Turkey has also got a rather poor human rights record, not counting since the refugee crisis where the government have turned a blind eye to much of the smuggling of refugees by boat to Lesvos and then there is the sale of inferior, not fit for purpose life jackets to refugees! I have personally witnessed grass filled life jackets, and filling made up of the type of foam polystyrene that you get protecting goods in boxes! None of this helps you float and some of it when wet even makes the wearer sink and potentially drown.
The Turkish Prime Minister left the Meeting today stating it was a historic day… Also saying “We today realise that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and same future”
Donald Tusk was quoted saying the agreement was “no silver bullet” and just one small part of the EUs response to the refugee crisis.
David Cameron welcomed the deal, stating that the deal could significantly stem the numbers of refugees/migrants paying smugglers to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Lesvos, Greece. For the first time in a long time being a Tory supporter I have to totally agree with Cameron and feel he is deluded if he thinks this will stop refugees trying to cross into Greece! They are fleeing war and persecution, until this is sorted and that will not be any time in the near future, refugees will still keep flocking towards Europe!
Then there is Merkel – I’ve never had any time for her. As a Brit I find her rhetoric pushing the UK into more and more closer links into the EU telling us what she thinks what we should do and how our laws should work frustrating at best! We are already on the verge of voting to come out of the EU which although I have my issues with the EU, I do see the positives that makes me feel we should stay in. But when Merkel publicly announced the doors of Germany wide open to the refugees/migrants I feel it was the most irresponsible statement made by a leader for a very long time! Firstly there was no planning, no logistics in place to take them in, and the open door to Germany was an open door to Europe without asking permission to the rest of the European leaders, it was almost like she was acting as if she was the messiah of refugees, when in reality how many realistically of the refugees now in Germany will she accept asylum for? I question if she will take even 10%, so where will the rest of the refugees/migrants already in Germany go? It was a public false promise of hope to the refugee community.
Now even having spent time in Calais and in Lesvos supporting the refugees, I still do not agree with an open door policy for refugees into Europe. I feel far more needs to be done to keep them in Arabic Speaking countries close to where they have fled from, which means supporting financially and with infrastructure and much more in these countries such as Lebanon and Jordan where the governments there are struggling to cope with the numbers of refugees in their countries.
If you think about it, if we sorted these things and made sure of their safety and human rights, they would be in a country that speaks their first and for some their only language. Let’s say a refugee, gets asylum in Germany, and he/she can’t speak German, what kind of life will they have? They will firstly be ostracised from the local community where they will live due to the language barrier and then financially they will be in a far richer country than they came from with little or no money to their name and will be forced to accept benefits if they qualify that is. Having spent some time with thousands of refugees, I’d say that only 25% at best have any real decent grasp of English let alone any other language!
Kate Allen from Amnesty International said today “It’s Shameful to see leaders seeking to abandon their legal obligations” Now I’m no lawyer and certainly no Human Rights Lawyer, but this agreement to me breaks all kinds of Human Rights Laws, you can’t just block people into a group and say they must leave, every asylum request has to be individually assessed on its own merit. And the agreement or at least the reporting of the agreement is stating that it will be the Greek authorities that decide if asylum is granted, yet up to now refugees/migrants have been allowed once reaching Greece to apply for asylum in any EU country, so this currently isn’t very clear.
KEY COMPONENTS FROM THE AGREEMENT:
Greece will return ALL “irregular migrants” crossing from Turkey to Greece as of the 20th March 2016 – though each arrival will be individually assessed by the Greek authorities.
One in One Out… For each refugee/migrant returned to Turkey, a Syrian refugee will be resettled within the EU. Though the number will be capped at 72,000.
Then there is the deal struck with Turkey to keep them happy… Visa restrictions, Turkish nationals should be brought into the Passport-Free Zone (Schengen) – though thankfully the UK is not within the Schengen Agreement so will not be effected by this.
The EU will also speed up the allocation of £2.3billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants… My question here is can we trust what is at best a slightly dodgy corrupt government to spend this money only on the refugees/migrants? Its already been seen that Turkey like to play both sides of the fence when it comes to the refugee Crisis and the Middle East. For example, they can deny it all they like but there’s no way they have not paid for Oil from ISIS just next door in Syria.
Then there is the age old discussion about re-igniting the talks to bring Turkey into the EU. Now come on, really? Surely Turkey realise this will never happen, first their human rights issues then there is the geographical fact that Turkey borders the Middle East. Right now Turkey is the buffer between the two regions, and I can never see Europe agreeing to having its border right up with the Middle East. These talks have gone nowhere for so long.
With all this in mind, I can only see this agreement falling apart in its early stages and at best taking months, if not more to have it in full motion. This refugee crisis will be sat in Europe for a very long time.
Over 1million refugees/migrants have made it to Europe since 2015 and over 130,000 have made it here since January 2016 alone. There are also tens of thousands of refugees/migrants left across Greece, from Lesvos to the Macedonian border which is still currently closed and most likely not open again.
This crisis will not go away and will not leave Europe until we sort the problems at source. That is getting rid of Assad, eradicating ISIS, pushing back the Taliban who have again swept across Afghanistan again since our troop withdrawal at the end of the Afghan war. These problems will not go away easily and may never fully go away, one small grace is that Putin has started withdrawing many of his troops and air force, but that doesn’t mean he is stopping his backing of Assad and his regime.
My personal opinion which is not a popular one is that if Putin was to withdraw fully that we should send in boots on the ground on mass to take on the 30,000 ISIS members in Syria, they are concentrated in localised areas and based in and around Raqqa. We had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq/Afghan conflicts, to send in a multi-national force that far exceeds the numbers of ISIS, I feel solve part of the problem, though not over night and yes we would of course loose soldiers, but ISIS will not wind down and go away quietly without direct military action and Assad is more concerned with bombing his own people and taking on the rebels.
It’s a very complex multitude of crisis in the region. And swapping 72,000 refugee/migrants from Greece with 72,000 from Turkey will certainly not work.
Reported by Mike Buss: 18th March 2016.