Global Independent Analytics
Tobias Nase
Tobias Nase

Location: Germany

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Merkel’s slow exit strategy … and Erdogan`s role in it

This Monday the first refugees are being sent back from Greece to Turkey. But what is behind the EU-Turkey deal?

That Merkel’s handling of the refugee crisis is unbearable is now beginning to be realized by the circles within the German government and even by Merkel herself. She is now seeking a way out of this misery without losing face. In this critical situation Merkel and the German government seem to have found an ally in Turkey. Turkey plays an important role as a country that all refugees cross on their way via the Balkan route towards Europe. According to the European border control agency Frontex at least 765 thousand refugees made it to Europe via this route in 2015.

The plan with Turkey

Already in October 2015 the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Brussels to discuss the refugee issue, offering help and trying to exploit it for his benefit and Turkey’s benefit. He spoke to the presidents of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament respectively. The result was the drafting of an action plan on EU-Turkey cooperation regarding the refugee crisis.

The plan included a mobilization of money, which would be paid by the EU to Turkey for it to cope with the refugee problem. Turkey spent last year a total of 7.5 billion dollars on the refugees and each month this sum grows by up to 500 million dollars. Therefore, refugees in Turkey should be enabled to enter the EU in an orderly manner. Turkey was also supposed to strengthen border controls and to block finally the Balkan route for refugees.

Furthermore, Erdogan asked for the permission to establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria - allegedly to settle refugees there. This proposed “safe-zone” reaching along the Turkish border 40 kilometers into Syria should have been established on the territory that connects Turkey with the Islamic State in northern Syria. In this proposed zone, ISIS, the Syrian army and the Kurdish YPG would have been fought by the “Free Syrian Army” with air support given by the Turkish and US governments. This was a proposal by Erdogan to invade Syria.

With some changes the EU now agreed to Erdogan’s proposals. The no-fly zone was not established. Even within the western leaderships it seems clear that the moderate terrorist opposition of the “Free Syrian Army” was close to being defeated by the Syrian Arab Army or would switch sides to join the Islamic State. A “full victory” was becoming impossible as the Russian intervention made the “safe-zone” more complicated. But the final problem was that no western country was interested in providing the ground forces which would have been needed to establish the “safe-zone.”

The final contract

After months of chaos the EU finally decided to sign the contract. The final agreement with Turkey, which was now ratified on the 18th of March 2016, includes the following steps:

Turkey will block all sea and land passages to the EU for the refugees.

All refugees who enter Greece via Turkey will be returned to Turkey with EU bearing the costs.

For every Syrian refugee, which was returned to Turkey from Greece, one Syrian refugee will be transferred from Turkey to the EU ( a one-for-one swap). And EU will consider seriously taking Syrian refugees from Turkey for humanitarian reasons.

The EU commits to paying Turkey a total of six billion Euro. Three billion would be given to Turkish aid organizations until November this year and another three billion will be given until 2018 if Turkey meets its commitments.

The EU will waive most visa requirements for Turkish citizens and the accession of Turkey to the EU will be discussed.

Unknown consequences

While a real entry of Turkey into the European Union is currently very unlikely, the visa-free travel of Turkish citizens to the EU is worth a closer look. The native Turks themselves are currently not that interested in constantly moving to Europe. Germany, whose biggest minority is Turkish, has in fact witnessed in recent years a constant flow of Turks returning to Turkey. Many of them even see their economic prospects in Turkey as better than in Germany. But what is the situation with the Kurdish minority in Turkey?

With the escalating conflict between the PKK and the Turkish military in southeastern Turkey, the next refugee crisis is already predicted. According to the pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP “people will flood into safe regions” -  meaning Europe. Gareth Jenkins of the Institute for Security and Development Policy who is based in Turkey estimates that up to 400,000 or 500,000 Kurds could expectedly flee to Europe. Because of the visa-free travel, the Kurds could then easily take a flight from the Turkish city Diyarbakir to Germany for only €60  (one way of course). Everybody who reaches Germany this way may then apply for asylum. And many are already preparing to leave.

The EU is uncertain about Erdogan

The only way to prevent this from happening would be to declare Turkey a “safe country of origin” according to German law. By doing so Turkish citizens could not apply for asylum. But the EU and the German government are split when it comes to Turkey. On the one hand Turkey has been a good military and economic ally of the EU and NATO. But on the other hand – Turkey has been successfully playing the Islamist card and its involvement with the Islamic State seems to be rather dubious. And the main problem for the EU actually seems to be Erdogan’s autocratic and dictatorial characteristics. What will happen if Turkey’s president turns into the next sultan? If Turkey completely turns into a one-man show of Erdogan, then the EU will need a backup plan to remove him from office. Declaring Turkey a “safe country of origin” would instead further help to legitimate Erdogan’s rule.

Erdogan is the clear winner of the deal

With the deal the EU is unwillingly strengthening Erdogan’s position within the Turkish government. Of course, it will be a nice present by Erdogan to his citizens if they get the possibility to travel freely to the EU and it will probably increase his popularity in Turkey. Erdogan knows his bargaining power and can put even the EU under pressure. He warned the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker: “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria any time and we can put the refugees on buses.”

But what other options does the EU have? Erdogan is playing his cards right with this threat. He knows that Turkey is essential in blocking the stream of refugees into the EU. Neither Greece nor Bulgaria, which are at the borders of the EU, have any financial capacities to handle this crisis. And Merkel is searching for somebody who can do the dirty work for her.

Conclusion

While in Germany the left-wing opposition is complaining in its typical manner about human right abuses in Turkey together with organizations like “Amnesty International”, the extreme right is complaining about the deal being a sell-out to Turkey.

The reality is that they did not realize what happened. Merkel managed with a slow exit strategy to stop the immigrants for now from entering Europe. In recent days the stream of refugees via the Balkan route stopped and the problem now lies with Greece and Turkey. Following the absolute chaos and uncontrolled flow of immigrants in the recent months this could even be described as a step forward. Only a few hundred refugees made it to Germany since the beginning of the contract.

Once again Merkel found a way to cover up her destructive policies. And since the start of the new contract, polls estimated that Merkel’s popularity has risen from 43% in January to 55% this week. This is her highest popularity rating since August 2015, when the refugee crisis started to reach its climax.

The EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have found their puppet who deals with the refugee crisis for them. But at what price? Although the EU-Turkey contract is stabilizing the refugee situation, for now, it is not a long-lasting solution, especially if there are not more measures to follow, like Turkey being declared a safe country of origin.

Merkel again successfully managed to escape her responsibility. What is needed is a clear word from Merkel that the EU is not going to welcome everybody and that the refugees are only being taken of in Germany until the war in Syria is over. But of course, Merkel fears to lose her good reputation as the “savior of the refugees” with clear words as these.

And what is even worse - instead of finally stopping to arm the terrorists in Syria – Merkel’s ally -  the United States – is already preparing to send the next bunch of “democratic rebels”, who will eventually become Jihadists, to Syria. 

 

Related ARTICLES

EU Blackmailed by Turkey, Member States blackmailed by EU

EU Blackmailed by Turkey, Member States blackmailed by EU

The crème-de-la-crème efforts of the EU to address the refugee crisis are pathetic.

03 June 2016

by Valerijus Simulik

Can we all just be like Berlin?

Can we all just be like Berlin?

Why do we all like Berlin so much?

14 May 2016

by Joshua Tartakovsky

SALAFISM IN CATALONIA: A NEW BELGIUM IN SOUTHERN EUROPE?

SALAFISM IN CATALONIA: A NEW BELGIUM IN SOUTHERN EUROPE?

We still do not realize that Belgium is a country of immigration like all Europe is becoming.

21 April 2016

by Ester Gallego

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop