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Globalization and politics

Patricia Alonso

Freelance journalist based in Istanbul. Keeping an eye on Turkish politics and development.

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piqer: Patricia Alonso
Monday, 20 March 2017

Turkey Would Not Benefit From Suspending The EU Migrant Deal

The deterioration of the relations between Turkey and Europe has put the one-year-old refugee deal in the spotlight. European leaders, who described the accord as a success, thrilled at the way Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cut off the flow of asylum seekers, shake at the thought of the end of the deal.

Turkey knows. That's why Erdogan, in his bid to consolidate power, has threatened with "reviewing" the deal if the European Union doesn't do its part.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have opposed the deal since the beginning, considering it a dangerous precedent against international refugee laws. But both Turkey and Europe have a lot to win.

Can Erdogan turn on the migration tap as easily as some think?

Despite Turkey's claims, it might not be in its own interest—or Erdogan's. The European Union promised Turkey several billion euros for its help, but that's not the only reason.

Since the accord, Turkish smuggling industry has undergone a crackdown. Before, it was easier to cross from Lebanon or Jordan. Syrians didn't even need a visa. According to analysts, it is unlikely that Erdogan will lift these restrictions. In stopping refugees fleeing from war, Turkey has also stopped fighters from the Islamic State, and Erdogan cannot risk angering the Turks in the middle of the campaign for the referendum that might give him all the power.

Nor does it make sense with the Turkish military campaign in Syria. Ankara has claimed dozens of times its intentions of creating a safe space in Syria, for refugees to move back. 

Turkey Would Not Benefit From Suspending The EU Migrant Deal
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