The next crisis is suddenly there. Turkey waves refugees towards Europe. Now the EU has to take care of the migrants again. Old conflicts are breaking up, says Bernd Riegert.
The European Union has relied on Turkey for four long years as a gatekeeper for refugees and other migrants. Now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done what he has repeatedly threatened. Turkey brings asylum seekers and immigrants to the border with the EU countries Greece and Bulgaria.
Turkish autocrat Erdogan has resigned from the joint declaration on the withdrawal of refugees and migrants from March 2016, commonly known as the “refugee deal”. He wants to do politics with it, on the backs of the refugees and migrants who are now persevering at the borders. It is unclear exactly what the Turkish President, who is stuck in several dead ends in foreign policy, is unclear. He will hardly get a better “deal” with blackmail.
It is a fact that Turkey is home to 3.6 million Syrian war refugees. Given the hundreds of thousands of people from the Syrian region of Idlib who could soon try to flee to Turkey, it can be seen that Turkey is demanding more help and is looking for an outlet for “migration pressure”.
EU has no plan B
And the Europeans? The hectic shouting for special meetings between EU foreign and interior ministers and more Frontex border guards is hypocrisy. The EU leadership had known for four years that the deal with Turkey would be a temporary and shaky solution.
The EU Commission has made several attempts to implement a better asylum system and a distribution of refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and many African countries in the EU. That failed again and again because of the no from the member countries, by the way not only from Poland, Hungary, Austria or Italy. A right-wing to right-wing populist opposition has established itself in many EU countries, refusing to accept refugees, let alone permanently settling migrants.
The EU has never properly implemented the “refugee deal” with Turkey. The procedures that were agreed in 2016 and should be completed within a few days or weeks drag on in Greece forever. Greece and the EU authorities have not managed to organize this properly. The appalling conditions among others in the Moria camp are the result. Or did you want to produce these pictures in order to have a deterrent effect on potential migrants?
The EU has relied on Turkey. Now she has no plan B. The border closure by Greece and Bulgaria is a helpless attempt to refuse entry to refugees and migrants, which will not succeed in the long run. According to the Refugee Convention and the common EU asylum procedure law, immigrants have the right to a check whether they are vulnerable refugees or whether they are immigrants. The former should not simply be dismissed, nor should they be returned to a country where they face persecution.
The end of solidarity and law
After the experiences of 2015 and 2016, when refugees and other migrants came to Central Europe in large numbers on the Balkan route and across the Mediterranean, the EU actually wanted to create a system of testing and distribution to deal with such “waves”. But there is no such thing. And now? Build a wall (there are fences already)? Closing the internal borders in the EU? Quit the UN Refugee Convention?
It is feared that the majority of EU members will advocate a tough course and discharge responsibility for implementation in the border states, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Malta, Spain, and Italy. Goodbye European solidarity! Goodbye international law! Goodbye mercy!