The EU-Turkey deal - not really the success it is presented to be

Although the EU-Turkey deal is hailed as a success by the European Commission and seen as a model for cooperation with other transit countries, including in Norway, MIGMA-researcher shows there is more to the story.

New report on the situation for refugees in Turkey

Özlem Skribeland has just published a report commisioned by the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seek (NOAS) titled Seeking Asylum in Turkey: A critical review of Turkey's Asylum Laws and Practices.

- In this new report, I have reviewed the key aspects of the EU-Turkey deal and the situation for the refugees in Turkey following more than two and a half years of implementation of the deal. The deal targets return from Greece to Turkey of third country nationals who have valid asylum needs/claims by declaring their asylum applications inadmissible. Since the deal, the number of irregular arrivals from Turkey to the Greek islands have dropped drastically, as a result of which the deal is hailed as a success by politicians. However, it is not really working as planned: The number of irregular arrivals from Turkey to the Greek islands even in a single month still far exceeds the total number of returns under the deal in more than two and a half years, with thousands stuck in horrible conditions in the Greek hotspots.

Ongoing research on the legality of return from Europe

Özlem’s ongoing doctoral research is on the legality of force-returning migrants from Europe to transit countries. Her PhD is part of MIGMA (Migration Management and How Migrants Manage), a multidisciplinary research project on migration management, funded by the Norwegian Research Council and headed by Professor May-Len Skilbrei.

“Externalization has become a central feature of migration management in the last decades, and various arrangements that engage the responsibility of transit countries are becoming increasingly utilized. The EU-Turkey deal of March 2016 is a prime example of this.”

Important developments since the EU-Turkey deal

The EU-Turkey deal is built on the understanding that Turkey provides protection in line with international standards. The country is party to the Refugee Convention but maintains its original geographical reservation to it, which means that in Turkey, only those people from Council of Europe member countries can get actual refugee status. At present, it is estimated that less than 100 people have actual refugee status in Turkey, while everyone else – the 4 million Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians and people of other non-European nationalities - has very limited rights and prospects. Moreover, there have been important developments in Turkey since the deal, which impacts negatively on the situation for the refugees.

“Four months after the deal, there was a coup attempt in Turkey. One of the many things that the government did in response to the failed coup was to amend Turkey’s laws on deportation. As a result of these amendments, there is no a bigger risk of unlawful deportation and refoulement from the country. This and other relevant key developments are reviewed in the report.”

The report constitutes an update on an earlier report with the same title, which was published in April 2016, just around the time of the EU-Turkey deal

Published Feb. 21, 2019 3:14 PM - Last modified Feb. 21, 2019 3:24 PM