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New tensions in the EU-Turkey relationship: What is the future of refugee deal?

New tensions in the EU-Turkey relationship- What is the future of refugee deal?
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Written by News For Turkey

The failed coup in Turkey and the ensuing crackdown have created new tensions in the EU-Turkey relationship. As the EU has voiced concerns over human rights in Turkey, Turkish officials have threatened to stop implementing the deal Turkey signed last March to take back migrants who had crossed into Greece.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister explicitly linked the viability of the deal with the EU fulfilling its pledge to grant Turks visa-free travel by October. In response, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel spoke of “visa blackmail.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that thousands of people could make their way into Europe again, should the deal collapse.

CNN reports that Yet the deal as such had very little to do with this. Returns to Turkey are proceeding at a very slow pace. The Greek state is overwhelmed, and the promised assistance from the EU is too small to allow individual hearings for migrants who claimed asylum to be handled speedily. Resettlement also proceeds very slowly.

In reality, the refugee flows stopped for two other reasons. First, the so-called Balkan corridor was closed in February when Macedonia (FYROM) sealed its border with Greece, making it almost impossible for migrants to continue their journey to the EU. Second, Turkey effectively blocked human trafficking from its coasts. It is now both more difficult and makes much less sense to set sail from Turkey to Greece.

Why then does the EU appear worried about the collapse of its deal with Turkey?

Throughout the crisis, the EU has had to juggle multiple, sometimes conflicting, imperatives. It has had to both live up to its humanitarian values and to respond to calls to stem uncontrolled flows of people, while maintaining the integrity of the Schengen system of free movement between its member states.

The EU-Turkey relationship has undoubtedly entered a difficult period. But the refugee issue is just part of the broader canvas of Turkey’s relations with the West that encompasses Syria, jihadism, and relations with players such as Russia and Iran.

For the EU, the refugee crisis is now in a new phase: attention has shifted to the challenges of integration, co-existence with Islam, and radicalization. This is a much more complicated and long-term agenda than managing population flows. / Read more at CNN. Photo Credit: AlJazeera

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News For Turkey

News For Turkey is a news guide for Turkey. It gives small pieces of news and analysis around the world about Turkey.

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