EU begins deporting migrants to Turkey

The EU border protection agency Frontex has begun implementing the EU-Turkey deal and deporting refugees from Greece to Turkey. Human rights organisations are highly critical of the operation. What will be the price of resolving the refugee crisis?

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

The Hague approved a dirty policy

Reports by the human rights organisation Amnesty International according to which Turkey is deporting refugees to Syria have outraged Dutch MPs. But such reactions are entirely hypocritical, columnist Bert Wagendorp writes in the centre-left daily De Volkskrant:

“If parliament wanted to prevent the deal with Turkey it could have voted for the country to generously take in a couple of hundred thousand Syrians back in January, as the Dutch contribution to a European solution. ... The majority, however, wanted an end to the flood of refugees. While some of them pointed to the possibility of rapists and terrorists entering with all the rest, others argued that precisely that party which has been pointing to the rapists and terrorists coming in with all the rest would see its popularity increase. ... The solution to our problems would inevitably have nasty consequences. Everyone knew that. ... This is a dirty policy. But we ourselves called for it.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

EU must help with integration

For the pro-government paper Daily Sabah the deportation of illegal refugees to Turkey won't solve the problem:

“The presence of 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey can be seen as a time bomb if these people are not given any perspective for an acceptable future in which they can live in humane conditions. ... The European Union's major aim should be to help Turkey not to stop these refugees at its borders with the EU, but to integrate them into Turkish society. ... It is high time to distance oneself from the rhetoric of whether returning refugees is in compliance with European values or not. Nobody wants these refugees in their countries except Turkey. So it is time to support Turkey, its government, its authorities and its nongovernmental organizations if a helping hand is to be given to Syrians. It is not a question of money, but a question of principles and values.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Refugees being deprived of their rights

The rights of asylum of the refugees affected by the EU-Turkey deal are no longer guaranteed, columnist Apostolis Fotiadis criticises in the centre-left daily The Guardian:

“Activist lawyers’ accounts and journalist reports from the islands raise the question of whether refugees have been given sufficient time and access to asylum procedures. It appears that many of them do not yet understand the content of the deal or why they have been restricted, and there has been a last-minute rush for asylum claims among the people who are possible deportees. It is also unclear how Turkey plans to handle returnees, how they will be received, and whether they will be able to receive the protection that was previously offered to them there.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Ankara exploiting refugee crisis

The Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet criticises the government in Ankara saying it is exploiting the refugee crisis for its own political objectives:

“The Middle East's refugee problem has torn away the mask of civilisation and exposed its ugly face. … Turkey, for example, is playing a game in which it is using the refugees to change the country's demographics and voter structure: where it receives few votes, in the Aegean coastal regions and those parts of the country with a predominantly Alevi population like Çeşme, Dikili and Kahramanmaraş, the ruling AK party is trying to set up camps for three million refugees! In this way the bloodbath that represents humanity's disgrace in the 21st century and the refugee crisis it has triggered are being exploited to realise the government's anti-democratic ambitions.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Asylum decision on outer borders fair

The deportations to Turkey mark a first step on the path to a fairer European migration policy, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes:

“If there is a chance to at least create the conditions for controlling the flood of refugees so that those who are entitled to asylum can claim it while others who are not entitled are prevented from doing so, then this distinction must be made on Europe's outer border. The supposedly unavoidable open border policy was not only a stimulus programme for those seeking to capitalise on the plight of others, it also rewarded the young, the strong and the prosperous. Now those Syrian refugees who are most in need of protection will be able to reach Europe.”

The Malta Independent (MT) /

Turkey not a safe third country

Ankara's treatment of critics and Kurds shows that the EU should not deport refugees to Turkey, the centre-right daily The Malta Independent believes:

“Most of its incredible human rights violations – against opposition journalists and, especially, the Kurds - go unnoticed and overlooked in the majority of the Western media simply because its Nato member status gives it such privilege. ... Human rights groups have been rightly voicing concerns over Turkey as a 'safe third country' to host refugees fleeing war and violence. Under EU rules, refugees might be returned to a third country on condition it is safe and does not pose any threat to life and liberty. Any EU politician who considers Turkey as such needs to have a quick fix of cold turkey.” (GR) /

Europe sending too few police officers

The liberal news website Protagon points out that the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios are ill-prepared for the deportations of migrants:

“The personnel and infrastructural deficits are so apparent that there are major doubts about the success of the EU agreement. … Germany and France are sending 200 people for Frontex and 100 for the asylum authorities. The biggest problem, however, is the number of police officers. The original plan was that each person [being deported] would be accompanied by two police officers, but that can't be implemented. Instead the ratio will be one to one. … For this reason the British have proposed postponing the operation until the islands are better prepared for it.”

More opinions

The Guardian (GB) / 04 April 2016
  EU has made nothing but empty promises to Greece