Should EU send refugees back to Turkey?

The Dutch government has presented a plan to drastically reduce refugee numbers. It proposes ferrying refugees who arrive in Greece by boat straight back to Turkey. In return EU member states would take in 250,000 refugees residing in Turkey per year. The initiative meets with a mixed response in the press.

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Milliyet (TR) /

Desperate people can't be held back

At least 39 refugees drowned off the Turkish coast on their way to Lesbos on Saturday. The EU's plan to keep refugees in Turkey is as unrealistic as it is inhumane, the conservative daily Milliyet writes: "Even the worst weather conditions won't stop people from setting off on a journey to their deaths. Because they have nothing to lose, and it is very difficult to dissuade them. The coastguard reported in the autumn that despite all its efforts and warnings, the refugees refused to turn their rubber dinghies around. They even held their babies in the air and threatened to throw them into the sea. That's why the EU's threat to seal its borders and stop taking in refugees is as unrealistic as the three billion euros it promised Turkey that were tied to the demand that it stop sending on migrants. And the money never made it there anyway."

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Time to think about what is realistic

The Dutch proposal must be given serious thought, the daily taz urges:

“Who's to monitor all this, who's to manage it? [Turkish President] Erdoğan? Hardly. But what's the alternative? To go on waiting to see how many people will make the journey to Europe, where almost no one is willing to welcome them any longer? Which brings us to the Germans. We Germans must make our choice. If we go on signalling our willingness to take in anyone who needs protection, we'll have to do it on our own. All the other EU governments, including those on the left, are against such a policy - as well as 70 percent of the Germans. For that reason we must think about what we can actually take on, which of our plans are halfway realistic, and which can be backed by a majority. Anyone who continues to hope for a just distribution of refugees throughout the EU can go ahead and try it. But politically it doesn't stand much of a chance.”

De Morgen (BE) /

We would be turning our backs on mass murder

The plan proposed by the Netherlands on Thursday contravenes the universal right to asylum, the centre-left daily De Morgen warns:

“In fact the plan means the end of the Geneva Refugee Convention which guarantees war refugees the right to protection in a safe country. That is a high moral and human price to pay. Moreover the plan disregards the fact that the majority of asylum seekers are fleeing real wars and conflicts. The big, black hellfire that goes by the name Syria will continue to spew out tens of thousands of homeless if it is not extinguished. The planned air bridge won't solve these people's problems: at most it will solve ours. An elegant way of turning our backs on the daily mass murder being committed on the doorstep of our fortress.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Plan threatens Europe's cohesion

The Dutch government's initiative shows that it no longer believes the EU can provide common solutions, the centre-left daily De Volkskrant comments:

“Although the Commission was among the critics of the plan on Thursday on several points it adopted the same approach as the two leaders of the Dutch coalition [Prime Minister] Rutte and [parliamentary party leader of the Social Democrats] Samsom. … To put one's faith in forming a core group on issues as crucial as the refugee crisis is risky. It paves the way for a multi-speed Europe which could quickly boil down to selective shopping. But in the view of Samsom and Rutte it would be better to run this risk than to leave the shop empty-handed.”