Nach Angaben türkischer Medienberichte könnte sich die Türkei aus dem sogenannten EU-Türkei-Deal zurückziehen. Grund dafür sei die Nicht-Einhaltung bestimmter im Deal vereinbarter Gegenleistungen seitens der EU, so türkische Regierungsbeamte. Darunter falle unter anderem die im Zuge des Deals zugesicherte Visa-Freiheit für türkische Bürger*innen. Besagte Visafreiheit sorgte schon in der Vergangenheit für Spannungen zwischen der EU und der Türkei. So drohte die Türkei bereits im November 2016 mit der Aufkündigung des Deals.
Der EU-Türkei-Deal ist eine im März 2016 verabschiedete Vereinbarung zwischen der EU und der Türkei. Der Deal: finanzielle Entschädigungen und Visafreiheiten für türkische Bürger*innen gegen Grenzsicherung und Flüchtlingsabwehr.
Readmission agreement with EU no longer functional, Ankara says
Following the European Union’s repetitive failures to deliver on its promises, Turkey said that the readmission deal is no longer functioning and unilaterally decided to suspend its commitments
Ankara announced that the readmission deal with the European Union signed in April 2016 will no longer be functional as long as the bloc continues to not fulfill its promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
„We will not wait at the EU’s door. The readmission agreement and visa-free deal will be put into effect at the same time,“ Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday in a TV interview, and added that Turkey has decided to suspend its commitments in the deal.
Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement in 2016 to find a solution to the influx of refugees heading to the union. According to the deal, Turkey was promised a total of 6 billion euros in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also promised to be provided under the agreement.
Lastly, the customs union was also to be updated in accordance with the deal. In exchange for these promises of the EU, Turkey took the responsibility of discouraging irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of more than 3 million Syrians living in Turkey.
Daily Sabah │ 23.07.2019
Europe leaves Turkey in lurch on migrant issue
Turkey’s interior minister late Saturday said that Europe has deserted Turkey on the issue of irregular migrants. […] Ankara has accused the EU of failing to fulfill its obligations under a 2016 deal aiming to discourage irregular migration to Europe via the Aegean Sea.
The deal included a €6-billion ($6.8-billion) aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees in the country. However, Turkey has so far received only a part of the committed amount.
Dışişleri Bakanı Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Avrupa Birliği’yle (AB) geri kabul anlaşmasının askıya alındığını duyurdu.
The agreement between Turkey and the EU set out measures for reducing Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II, including stepped-up checks by Turkey and the shipping back to Turkish territory of migrants who arrive in Greece.
In return, Turkey was slated to receive benefits including visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe, which in the accord was promised “at the latest” by June 2016. Turkey was also to receive a total of 6 billion euros in financial aid for the Syrian refugees it is hosting.
Turkey, however, refused to revise its anti-terror laws, which Brussels insisted were not compatible with European standards, thus deadlocking the visa liberalization part of the deal.
During political tensions with the EU and European countries in the past, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly threatened to open the border gates to Europe for millions of Syrian refugees.
The announcement to suspend the agreement came soon after the EU adopted several sanctions for Turkey over its hydrocarbon drilling activities off Cyprus, which have led to tensions with Greece.
Medienberichte dokumentieren die Reaktion einer Vertreterin der Europäischen Kommission auf die türkische Ankündigung, aus dem EU-Türkei-Deal aussteigen zu wollen. So würden sich beide Seiten weiterhin für die Umsetzung des so genannten „joint statement“ einsetzen. AreYouSyrious bringt es im Newsletter vom 29.07.2019 ganz treffend auf den Punkt und schreibt „Confusion about allegedly suspesion of EU-Turkey-Deal“.
Was die Konsequenzen für Migrant*innen und Geflüchtete wären, beschreibt Bordermonitoring Bulgaria: „the suspension of the EU-Turkey deal will very likely lead to a more unsecure situation for thousands of people who were forced to leave their home countries by force“.
Confusion about allegedly suspension of EU-Turkey deal
After several newspapers and Friday’s AYS digest reported about the Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu statement indicating a withdrawal of Turkey from the EU-Turkey deal of 2016, it is not yet clear what the statement actually meant.
According to a Danish newspaper, a spokesman of EU Foreign Service explained that it was in fact another agreement from 2013/2014 that was adressed by the Turkish Minister. A spokesman of the Turkish foreign ministry apparently confirmed this information, and, according to a German newspaper, also the German Foreign Ministry stated that both sides adhere to the 2016 deal.
At the same time it is obvious that anti-refugee sentiments grow in Turkey. In Istanbul, according to Human Rights Watch and media, Syrians were detained, coerced to sign documents stating their voluntary return and deported to northern Syria.
EU Commission reacts to Cavusoglu comments on migration deal
The European Commission on Wednesday reacted to comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who earlier this week suggested that Ankara will cancel a migrant readmission agreement with the European Union should the bloc fail to deliver on its promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
Responding to a journalist’s question during a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday, Natasha Bertaud, deputy chief spokesperson for the European Commission, said that the two sides are still committed to implementing the so-called “joint statement,” adding that the enforcement of the EU-Turkey deal remains a condition for visa liberalization.
Natasha Bertaud, deputy chief spokesperson for the European Commission responded to Çavuşoğlu’s comments during a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday, only by saying that the two sides are still committed to implementing the so-called “joint statement.” She reiterated that the enforcement of the EU-Turkey deal remains a condition for visa liberalization.
Suspension of the EU-Turkey Deal and developments in Bulgaria which could follow
Since the 11.07.2019 the EU-Turkey deal is suspended. Furthermore hundreds of people were arrested in Turkey and reports were published of refugees getting deported from Turkey back to Syria. Because of the recent happenings also the numbers could change in Bulgaria again. Nevertheless the Bulgarian government created already its own ties with the Turkish government.
According to the Bulgarian authorities, a total of 4,662 people attempted to cross the Bulgarian-Greek border in 2018 and 5,311 people irregularly crossed the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Thus, in 2018, the number of people who wanted to cross the Bulgarian-Greek border increased by six times (before the suspension of the EU-Turkey deal). However, the numbers at the Turkish-Bulgarian border have fallen, very likely because of the fence, the strong efforts of Frontex and new technical equipment.
Nevertheless the violence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border did not stop. In June 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe again reported regular push-backs from Bulgaria to Turkey and pull-backs in Turkey. The state-run Turkish news agency Anadolu has reported hundreds of migrants arrested in the province of Edirne, which borders Bulgaria and Greece. In May 2019, the agency reported praise from the Turkish authorities by the Bulgarian Prime Minister, who said earlier that the two countries‘ cooperation is “working perfectly in the fight against illegal migration“. Also the Maritza River (Evros) played a bigger role in the recent weeks. In June 2019, it was announced that authorities are investigating a criminal group which is accused of smuggling 30-40 migrants per week by boat across the river to Bulgaria.
If the numbers of refugees will again increase in Bulgaria, a new route could develope via another river at the border to Romania. Recently a case came into the open where migrants tried to cross the Danube. In the night of the 20th of May 2019, the Romanian police arrested eight people who wanted to cross the Danube by boat from Bulgaria to Romania. The five Iraqi refugees were immediately returned to Bulgaria, and three suspected smugglers were arrested in Romania. Additionally to the repression of the authorities the route itself is not harmless. In late May 2019, a smuggler in Bulgaria was sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to send six people across the Danube to Romania in 2016, with six people dying.
The above mentioned examples from Bulgaria show, that whatever will follow, the suspension of the EU-Turkey deal will very likely lead to a more unsecure situation for thousands of people who were forced to leave their home countries by force.
It should also not go unmentioned that Bulgaria is developing its own tactics regarding to the expulsions of foreigners. According to a recently published Eurostat statistic, 1,305 non-EU citizens were expelled from Bulgaria in 2018. In 2017, it had been 2,600. However, it has to be taken into account that the so-called „voluntary return“ regime, in which the IOM plays a key role in Bulgaria, is important to mention: In 2017, the IOM was involved in the repatriation of 875 refugees, and in 2018 an interview partner of the IOM estimated the the total number of persons returned to 400 to 500 people.