EU-Turkey deal won't stop migrants

The agreement between the EU and Ankara according to which refugees who travelled illegally from Turkey to the EU can be sent back there has been in place since Sunday. Nonetheless hundreds of migrants are still crossing the sea to Greece every day. The deal could put an end to the uncontrolled flood of migrants to Europe, some commentators say. Others believe migrants will simply look for alternative routes.

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Al-Araby Al-Jadid (GB) /

Refugees must remain near their home countries

The EU-Turkey deal is welcome news especially as regards the period after the war in Syria, writes Jordanian journalist and poet Amjad Nasser in the Qatari daily Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, which is published in London:

“For Turkey this agreement means new EU membership negotiations and billions in aid from Europe. … We see this agreement (irrespective of the intentions of the various negotiating parties) that is to bring refugees back from Europe to Turkey as positive because as harsh as this may sound the 'open doors' principle is no solution. It would mean that even more young Syrians leave their country. Refugees seeking refuge in Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon will very likely return to their home country once the weapons are silenced and the political transition begins. But those who reach Europe and settle there will have a hard time finding their way back.”

To Vima und To Vima Online (GR) /

Greece can't carry the burden on its own

The EU's agreement with Turkey foresees among other things that 2,300 asylum experts from other countries will travel to Greece. For the liberal online paper To Vima this is a sign that the country simply can't cope on its own:

“Greece is being turned into a modern Ellis Island, a European official has said. … Lacking infrastructure and efficient public services we are waiting for the help provided by our colleagues from the European countries sent to monitor how and whether the exchange system with Turkey works. … Naturally the impressive amount of solidarity shown by Greek citizens towards the refugees so far can't solve the problems of those who remain in our country. This is mainly because many of them refuse to stay in the camps that have been set up all over the country under inadequate conditions.”

Le Quotidien (LU) /

EU's lack of a plan increases refugees' suffering

The refugee deal once again demonstrates the EU's inability to act effectively in the long term, the centre-left daily Le Quotidien criticises:

“The agreement closes the Aegean route, however the refugees will find other routes that are more dangerous for them and more lucrative for the human traffickers. ... Faced with this uncontrollable situation, the European Union has as usual resorted to emergency measures. Europe has no long-term plan and has made no effort to prove to these migrants that they also have a future in their home country. In this way it has shown its limits to the world. The migrants will now be sent back to Turkey - as if that will change anything in their desire to reach this land of milk and honey that Europe painted itself as being for them - barely a year ago.”

The Malta Independent (MT) /

Refugees will revert to Libya route

If migrants can no longer reach Europe via Turkey they could revert to trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, the centre-right daily The Malta Independent warns:

“[Maltese Prime Minister] Muscat said that while the Libya route has not been used much of late, that could all change in the blink of an eye, and that Europe should not be caught napping again. ... As Turkey continues to put pressure on migrant departure points, we might see a paradigm shift to North Africa once again. What, however, is not being factored in is that with IS’ dwindling oil sales, they will need to look for another source of revenue. And that source could very well be human trafficking. Trafficking people is a hugely profitable business, and we all know what IS is capable of.”

Sme (SK) /

Merkel's breakthrough

Europe's agreement with Turkey has the potential to change the uncontrolled flood into a process of legal migration, the liberal daily Sme writes with cautious optimism:

“Angela Merkel has achieved her strategic goal and laid the cornerstone of the 'European solution' she has sold to the German public. The agreement that Turkey will take back all illegal migrants is a breakthrough because it makes paying smugglers and risking the trip over the Aegean pointless. ... Respect! The big question remains whether Greece can control the process of repatriation, which will be no easy matter. What is certain is that the refugees will seek even more dangerous alternative routes. So the agreement with Turkey does not spell the end of the crisis. However, the fact is that Merkel has prevented her clinical death with the deal.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Agreement can end refugee crisis

If all the points of the EU-Turkey agreement are implemented it could mark the beginning of the end of the refugee crisis in Europe, the conservative business paper Naftemporiki comments:

“The key point is for refugees to recognize that they have no hope of asylum in the EU, so that they stop risking the unpredictable trip across the sea. ... For Ankara to be able to stem the flow of refugees, Turkey's security system must be put on a new footing and the highly profitable human trafficking racket must be smashed. ... For Greece to be able to screen the refugees arriving on the island and send them back to Turkey the asylum system must be changed, even though the resources and support provided by the EU are still insufficient.”

Libération (FR) /

Europe unrecognisable

The deal with Turkey has left the European Union in a bad state, the centre-left daily Libération believes:

“Just as the Eastern European states had hoped, the Union is becoming a fortress closed to economic migrants and refugees, who are being told to remain close to their country of origin. The Franco-German tandem has foundered, and Berlin is now the only force that matters in Europe. For many countries such leadership is unacceptable on the short term. In addition the European institutions (Commission, Council) have been sidestepped to such an extent that one wonders what purpose they still serve. In exchange for its new role as border guard, Turkey will obtain a blank cheque from the Europeans.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Hardly any chance of legal entry to EU

The refugee deal between the EU and Turkey offers too few Syrians the chance to enter the EU legally, the centre-left daily Der Standard criticises:

“Word for word the talk is of the big Syrian exchange operation only being viable for an upper limit of 72,000 refugees. … So if more than 72,000 flee 'irregularly' they will be resettled on a 'voluntary basis'. For that to be possible at all Greece and Turkey must first adjust their laws so that Turkey is classified as a safe country for refugees. All kinds of things were said and fought over regarding upper limits and targets for controlling migrant flows. The Commission even threatened to initiate proceedings against Austria. Now it is using legal tricks to dodge the double standards in the EU's migration policy. It would be more honest simply to say: we can't dispense with limits entirely but we will take as many Syrian refugees as possible. Given the 500 million EU citizens 72,000 is more like a lower limit.”

More opinions

The Irish Times (IE) / 19 March 2016
  Inhuman deal will create new generation of terrorists