Valerijus Simulik
Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and 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.
3 June 2016

The much-touted agreement between the EU and Turkey, according to which the latter country should take back the refugees reaching Europe in exchange for financial injections amounting to billions of euros and visa-free EU travel for Turkish citizens, seems to be at the end of its tether.

The EU claims that Turkey has failed to fulfill all the obligations, and therefore the visa waiver will not be signed. Take, for example, the Turkish legislation on the fight against terrorism. The EU claims it is superfluous and could turn anyone into a terrorist, be it a journalist or an ordinary citizen.

The Turkish President retorts to this that there are no intentions to change anything and that the EU has no right to govern his country. Or something to this effect.

Members of the European Parliament, which has stalled the negotiations on a visa-free regime with Turkey, are already openly proclaiming that nothing will come of this – that such an agreement will never be signed. The agreement was previously agreed to be signed by the end of June but, if it won’t be, then the President of Turkey threatens to stop accepting refugees back and will let them flock to Europe unrestrained.

The process unfolding before us is a kind of a hot potato game in the public sphere. The head of the European Commission purports that Turkey still needs to make progress, put an effort, and carry out whatever orders of the EU. The Turkish President also demonstrates in public that the EU wants too much and, all things considered, interferes where it should not.

An extremely productive and promising path, is it not? In such cases, one wonders what the diplomats of both sides are doing, whose work is it to forge agreements skillfully, silently, without unnecessary uproar and public accusations.

While the public hot potato game continues, the EU grapples with other measures ostensibly aimed at addressing the refugee crisis. Apparently, the feeling or awareness that reaching an agreement with Turkey is set to fail is very strong, so strong that the EU is resorting to decisions directed against its member states. Not all of them, though, only the ‘disobedient’ ones.

The Commission is in the midst of drawing up procedures under which EU member states refusing to accept refugees will have to pay financial penalties. Not just any penalties: fines that willy-nilly leave you aghast: about 250 thousand euro per person!

Imagine Lithuania refusing to take in ten refugees. The reason for refusal is of little importance. Let us say that our officials believe that these particular refugees pose a threat to national or internal security. But as soon as we say “no,” we have to pay no more and no less than EUR 2.5 million.

Such a situation is somewhat paradoxical. While being blackmailed by Turkey, the EU resorts to blackmailing its member states. I’ll repeat myself: is this a genuinely productive and promising way to address the refugee crisis?…

Could we change track? Instead of imposing fines, could we fund a better, more efficient, modernized protection of the EU’s external borders? The fact that a developed, truly economically and financially strong community is failing to protect its borders, which refugees are crossing ILLEGALLY, without any verification or control, is still beyond common sense.

Moreover, in some places refugees are greeted with posters saying “Refugees welcome.” I take this as welcoming refugees upon arrival. Of course, it is not the border guard officials that are doing this. Civilians are. But anyway, it sounds absurd. Those whose function it is to detain, verify, and deport refugees are not there. Instead, there are people with welcoming posters. Are they truly pleased with migrants or are they making fun of the powerless ‘guards’?