The EU-Turkey refugee deal solves little

Turkey uses crisis to win concessions from Europe, writes Fadi Hakura

The World Today
2 minute READ

Fadi Hakura

Former Consulting Fellow, Europe Programme

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, breathed a palpable sigh of relief after the European Union and Turkey secured a controversial strategy at a summit on March 17-18 to stem the stream of undocumented migrants through the Balkans. Turkey agreed to send one Syrian refugee to Europe for permanent resettlement in exchange for accepting the return of a migrant entering Greece by crossing the Aegean.

EU leaders are willing to admit up to 72,000 Syrians under this scheme as from 2016. The EU will also give €6 billion in aid – around €2 billion a year – to Turkey and has undertaken to accelerate procedures for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens through the Schengen area by the end of June.

Merkel’s relief may be short-lived, however. This agreement is fraught with potential difficulties. To begin with, its legality is questionable given that Turkey does not officially extend to non-European citizens the protections afforded by the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

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