14 March 2016
Thessaloniki ESI at Greek-Turkish workshop on migration and refugees
Photo: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Photo: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer presented at a Greek-Turkish workshop on migration and refugees organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Thessaloniki on 14-16 March 2016. She focused on the outline of an EU-Turkish refugee deal that was agreed in principle between the Turkish prime minister and EU leaders on 7 March in Brussels.

ESI has advocated since last September the need for a comprehensive EU-Turkey cooperation agreement on refugees that would be based on two central elements: firstly, the rapid return to Turkey of all people including asylum seekers who reach Greek islands with a simultaneous effort in Turkey to become a genuine third safe country for refugees; and secondly, substantial resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to EU countries.  Many elements of ESI's proposal have made it into the EU-Turkey blueprint agreed on 7 March. Alexandra pointed out that the agreement, if implemented, will benefit all sides – Greece, the EU, Turkey and refugees – and that the challenge now is to finalise it politically and then to implement is. Implementation will require a huge effort and the mobilisation of substantial resources.  She concluded by saying: "The EU-Turkey deal has the potential to show that border control and management of refugee flows can be combined with compassion and respect for human rights. If it does this, it will be truly ground-breaking."

Thessaloniki. Photo: ESI
Thessaloniki. Photo: ESI