Syrian refugees cross into Turkey

Two Remarks on the Turkey-EU Deal on the Migrant Crisis

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Written by Murat Karabag

“The EU and Turkey have reached a deal on the migrant crisis, which will see migrants returned to Turkey in exchange for aid and political concessions.” There are two practically important points of this deal:

  1. The European Union (EU) will no longer need to deal with new and uncontrolled immigrants. In exchange for an “acceptable” migrant for the EU, Turkey will take back all the migrants, regardless of the nationality. The EU will pay 3 billion euros to Turkey for this, which has long-term and short-term benefits.
  2. Turkey will be provided short-term visa liberation, if 72 benchmarks are met that include requirements on document security, migration management, public order and security, and fundamental rights and readmission of irregular migrants.

Objectively, the EU-Turkey deal was a victory for Angela Merkel, the architect of the deal, and was another disastrous day for Turkey and of AKP government. Subjectively, this is one of the darkest days for a minority in Turkey.

This deal is a diplomatic success and the day is “a historic day” for Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for two reasons. First, two days after the third Ankara bombing, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “you side either with us or the terrorists. There is no ‘but’ in this.”

In order to understand his meaning, the second half of Erdogan’s the sentence is extremely important. Erdogan has never cut ties with his party since being elected as the President and separates people as “we” and the “others,” depending on what he is against at a specific moment. The terrorists, according to Erdogan and his supporters, include, but are not limited to: political opponents, secularists, different religious sects, foreigners (especially the Western World), Kurds, nationalists, LGBT citizens, military or the officials of the armed forces (especially the Navy), academics, liberals, humanitarians, NGOs, or even women who laugh in public.

Simple discourse analysis shows that the short sentence “there is no ‘but’ in this” means that, in my opinion, “if you are a political opponent, secularist, foreigner… still you should support me and my government or you are a terrorist.”

To return to his own words, Erdogan also said that, “those that want to overthrow me are those against the state. Taking Erdogan down is destroying the state.” Read altogether, there are enormous numbers—millions—of terrorists in Turkey. Considering the security bill passed last year—which gives police the right to enter citizen’s homes without briefing the chiefs or a warrant, take a person into custody without reason, take that person to the forest to be killed there, and return without notifying the media of the execution—his dangerous mind becomes even more dangerous.

Second point, to receive Turkish citizenship, a person needs to stay in Turkey for five years. As of 2016, the first migrants that reached Turkey in 2011 will receive Turkish citizenship, even though they have no knowledge of either the Turkish language or culture because there are no integration or rehabilitation government programs. In the following years, we will have millions of citizens who do not even speak the language of the country. Combined with the aforementioned first point, you can guess where and against whom these millions will be used.

Consider this possible picture: Merkel, rather than seeing the end of the EU because of the migrant crisis, convinces the leaders of other member states to bait Turkey to accept the migrants back, which is, or will be, a politically beneficial thing for Turkish government in the following years. Turkey needs more armed forces who cannot be held directly responsible for the actions that the government wants or needs. Besides, Turkey is neither a safe nor a stable country and things will, eventually, become even worse. When humans flow from Turkey again, this time the migrants will be Turks rather than Syrians. The EU will have every right to send Turks back from where they were fleeing. Russia and Iran will not accept Turkish refugees and the only places left are Georgia and Azerbaijan, which are highly unlikely to accept any immigrants.

There is another face of the problem – an opposition face. Opponents, this author included, of the Turkish government and president, cannot blame the EU for doing what is beneficial for itself. However, we also cannot manage to not feel enraged for giving Turkish leaders more cards to play in domestic politics. Knowing the 72 benchmarks will never be met by Turkey, Turkey will not receive even that tiny and unimportant visa liberation. This will close the minds and bind together the supporters of the government even more, while making us, the terrorists, the “others” of our society and home state. We, Turkish citizens, share and believe in the same values as Europeans and hope not to be caught between two fires.