Turkey – ESI presentations in Ankara and Istanbul on Turkey's and Germany's role in solving the Syrian refugee crisis

2 November 2015
Ankara. Photo: flickr/Jorge Franganillo
Ankara. Photo: flickr/Jorge Franganillo

ESI's Gerald Knaus will be speaking on Turkey's and Germany's role in solving the Syrian refugee crisis at two public events in Ankara and Istanbul.

Germany, Turkey and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

November 2nd, 2015
14.00 – 15.30
TEPAV Building
3rd Floor Conference Room

TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Söğütözü Cad. No: 43 Söğütözü, Ankara

RSVP: Ceyda Altunay Demir – Phone: 312.292 55 86 – ceyda.altunay@tepav.org.tr

Istanbul. Photo: flickr/Christopher L.
Istanbul. Photo: flickr/Christopher L.

Turkey and Germany
A deal to help Syrian refugees and Turkey's EU bid

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Columbia Global Centers | Turkey

Sıraselviler Cad. No: 49 Yeni Hayat Apt. Fl. 2 No. 5 Taksim, İstanbul

RSVP: Gülden Çolakel –  gc2526@columbia.edu  

The Syrian refugee crisis is putting a huge strain on the EU. What is to be done? What is happening in key EU countries? Which solutions that are currently on the table stand any chance of making a difference … and most importantly, what should the aim of EU policy be?

While Germany welcomes Syrian refugees, other EU countries refuse to accept any. Throughout the EU, right-wing parties prejudiced against Moslems are gaining support. The humanitarian crisis only deepens, as winter sets in. And the EU holds one fruitless summit after another. ESI has long argued that Germany and Turkey hold the key to any solution. In recent weeks our analysis and proposals have been widely quoted by policy makers and journalists throughout the EU. This crisis will either destroy the international asylum system as we know it or mark a major step forward towards a more just a regime to deal with asylum. It will mark the decline of "liberal" and human rights values in the EU or see them strongly reaffirmed in the face of resistance. It is also going to remain the dominant issue is EU-Turkey relations in the coming period.



In recent weeks, EU institutions have tried to respond to the refugee crisis. They have failed. Levels of trust between Turkey and the EU have been low for years. Recent EU tactics have not helped.

Senior Turkish officials describe current talks as a game of poker: "In poker, it matters what the first hand is that you show; it better be serious." In this case, the EU's first, second and third hands were far from serious. The most concrete proposal in the Action Plan the EU presented to Turkish president Erdogan in Brussels in early October – a promise to "mobilise up to € 1 billion" in support for Turkey – involved relabelling pre-accession funds that had already been committed. As prime minister Davutoglu told a European counterpart recently, to treat this as a generous EU gesture "is an insult to our intelligence."

Anybody familiar with the tortuous history of EU-Turkey talks on visa liberalisation and the readmission of people also notices that the Action Plan contains nothing new. There are no new promises, commitments or incentives. Leaks to the press that there might be billions in additional funds for Turkey, "accelerated visa facilitation" (a red-flag concept in Ankara, and different from the visa liberalisation that the Western Balkan countries and Moldova received), or that six accession negotiation chapters might be opened (or not, depending on Cyprus) cannot hide the fact that the EU and Turkey are no closer to a joint strategy on how to deal with the refugee crises today than they were one month, or three years, ago.

Currently the EU pretends to offer Turkey something and Turkey pretends that it will make an additional effort to stop refugees leaving. Neither side is serious. The EU and Turkey act like an old couple, condemned to stay together, but without love or respect left. Divorce is not an option; no family therapist is available; and every attempt to 'agree' on something confirms, in its frustrating failure, what both think about each other. Only this time the house is burning.