AlJazeera – Even though Turkey-EU relations are going through a difficult period, it is unlikely that European leaders will shut their doors to Turkey when they meet. Mutual interest, rather than altruism, stands in the way of complete termination of accession talks, which have achieved little and are going nowhere at present. Europe and Turkey are pointing fingers at each other, but neither side is willing to pull the plug and take all the blame.
(Written by Galip Dalay, senior associate fellow on Turkey and Kurdish Affairs at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, and research director at Al Sharq Forum),
AlJazeera – A senior official from Turkey has rejected accusations that its border guards shot dead dozens of Syrian refugees and beat many others attempting to cross into the country this year.
Yasin Aktay, vice chairman of the ruling AK party, told Al Jazeera the allegations of deadly or excessive force against civilians fleeing the Syrian war were “fabricated”.
Access Info – Access Info Europe is taking the European Commission to the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union to obtain its legal analysis of this year’s controversial EU-Turkey deal on return of refugees to Turkey.
Access Info Europe submitted two access to information requests asking for copies of the Commission’s own evaluation of the legality of what was agreed with Turkey. The Commission denied access to the documents citing protection of legal advice, protection of decision making and protection of international relations. It released only a heavily redacted e-mail.
Gazete Duvar (link in Turkish) – According to Sputnik news, Greece has sent back 26 Pakistani refugees to Turkey via the Ipsala border gate. They were sent to the Edirne Removal Center after registration by Edirne Migration Management Officers.
Spiegel Online – Turkey, which has taken in almost 3 million Syrian refugees in recent years, has sealed off its borders in the wake of the spring 2016 refugee deal with the European Union. Syrians who seek to enter Turkey via airplane or ship from a third country, such as Lebanon or Jordan, require a visa, but officials only rarely issue them. And the overland route is blocked.
The German government claims that the Turkey deal stemmed the refugee crisis. In truth, though, the crisis has just been diverted. The wall on the German border that Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to avoid at all costs has been erected instead by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his country’s border with Syria: A three-meter (nearly 10 feet) tall cement barricade that extends for hundreds of kilometers and prevents refugees from entering the country. People may no longer be drowning in the Aegean Sea, where the number of boats embarking from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands dropped significantly as a result of the deal. Instead they are dying at the Turkish-Syrian border.
Pro Asyl – Today the Greek Council of State is hearing a complaint of crucial importance for the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal. The complaint is raised against the Greek government for replacing the Asylum Appeals Committees with the new »Independent Appeals Committees«. Refugee rights lawyers believe this was an illegal political intervention by the Government in order to protect and promote a policy related to the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement.
Deutsche Welle – One day after the European Parliament voted in favor of freezing EU membership talks with Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey could open its borders and allow migrants to leave for Europe if pushed by the European Union.
“If you go any further, these border gates will be opened,” he said in Istanbul. “Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats. It wouldn’t matter if all of you approved the [European Parliament] vote.”
Human Rights Watch – The EU-Turkey deal commits Turkey to accept the return of all asylum seekers who travelled through Turkey in exchange for billions of Euros in aid, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, and revived negotiations for Turkish accession to the EU. The €3 billion funding is designated for projects to improve the lives of refugees as well as of host communities in Turkey. The deal also provides for the resettlement of one other Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian returned to Turkey under the deal.
In a progress report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, published on September 28, the European Commission claimed that the deal is delivering results: arrivals from Turkey to Greece across the Aegean are down, millions of Euros have been disbursed to improve access to education and healthcare in Turkey, and returns and resettlement have been undertaken. Indeed, the commission and leaders of some member states cite the EU-Turkey deal as a model for agreements with other major transit countries.
Al Jazeera – Haji, together with his wife and four young children, was illegally returned from Greece to Turkey last month. Police told them they would be transferred to Athens and they were escorted to the airport by a group of officers from the EU border agency, Frontex. They boarded a plane but instead of flying to Athens, two hours later they touched down in Adana, southern Turkey. “When I saw the Turkish flag at the airport my dreams were shattered,” Haji told me.
As Haji and his family are stranded in Turkey, a further 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece, living in a state of constant fear and uncertainty. This is the result of the EU-Turkey migration deal and the failure of European leaders to relocate the promised numbers of refugees from Greece.