What does EU-Turkey deal mean for the refugee crisis?

From the beginning of refugee crisis EU leader were saying we need to solve roots of this crisis. But what is your view, are we doing this? We are trying desperately to get some deal with Turkey but as I see it has very little to do with solving roots of the crisis, hasn’t it? Read few comments.

Nando SigonaSenior Lecturer, Deputy Director, Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham

While the EU Turkey deal covers almost exclusively containment measures, over the last few months we also witness growing diplomatic/military efforts to move towards a resolution of the Syrian crisis which is the main root cause of the current refugee crisis in Europe. Evidently, the continuation of the conflict will inevitably lead to more displacement, but EU states are trying to contain such displacement in the region, potentially putting at risk thousands of people.

Of course, there are also other refugee-producing conflicts going on, and they are receiving less attention.

The situation in Libya is highly volatile with four ‘governments’ claiming the territory. Despite this, the British PM David Cameron called for further military involvement in the region to push back migrant boats to Libyan shores.

Christian KaunertProfessor of International Politics, Director of the European Institute for Security and Justice, University of Dundee

No, I think you are right. The agreement does not deal with the the root causes of the refugee crisis. The root cause is clearly the war in Syria, and, maybe additionally, the larger regional conflict including also Iraq and Afganistan, but also the underlying rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The agreement will not deal with those issues.

However, from a short term perspective, the agreement could be helpful for the EU to reduce numbers by sending back some people to Turkey and therefore reducing the incentive to go on the journey to Europe. However, even if this agreement works, this could only be a short to medium term solution because the flows will just divert, maybe via the Caucasus, Russia, towards the Baltics, Poland and into Western Europe. So, for this approach to work in the long run, the EU would probably need agreements of this nature with several other countries along the possible routes as well. This could take a long time to achieve!

Angeliki Dimitriadi, Visiting Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations

You are right in saying that the potential deal with Turkey does not address the root causes but it was never meant to do that. It takes decades to address root causes of migration, since beyond the Syrian crisis which is a conflict, population movement is also caused by  environmental factors (severe droughts or floods), terrorism (ISIL is an example), localized rather than generalized conflict (Afghanistan), extreme poverty etc.

It’s also not as simple as it sounds. In most cases the EU alone cannot do much, it requires a wider and global coalition of States to be involved for some of the problems and regions.

Though the EU has taken steps to contribute in addressing a lot of the above, its first priority has always been the domestic context, how to ensure protection of the Schengen area and the external borders. Which is where the deal comes in. Through the deal they are hoping numbers will reduce, pressure will ease domestically and they will ‘buy time’ to address the divisions in the Union. It is a reactionary deal, caused by panic but also the monumental failure in cooperation between member states.

Stella GeorgiadouAssociate Tutor (Politics), Research Student (Politics), University of Sussex

The EU is trying to get Turkey’s help with regards to the refugee crisis in return for economic and political concessions. More specifically, the draft scheme indicates that refugees coming illegally to Greece will be send back to Turkey. In exchange, Turkey will receive moneyand a renewal of its EU candidacy. In addition, the deal includes what has been termed as the one-for-one provision. This provides that for each irregular migrant Turkey takes back, the EU will take one Syrian from Turkey.

The first question to ask is whether this deal will indeed curtail the flow of irregular migration. The most obvious answer is no. Blocking one entry point will, most probably, lead the migrants to take other routes to Europe. Secondly, to go back to your question about the roots of the crisis, this deal does not address the very important fact that it is the continuing war in Syria that has caused the problem in the first place. What this deal achieves, is only the resettlement of refugees. It does not address the underlying causes of the crisis. It seems, therefore, that, in this case, EU actions do not match EU rhetoric.

Andrew Geddes, Professor, Department of Politics, Co-Director, Social Sciences Migration Research Group, University of Sheffield

The deal with Turkey does nothing to address the root causes of migration. People move primarily because of conflict or as a result of economic inequalities. The deal with Turkey affects people’s ability to move or the countries that they can move to, but doesn’t affect or change the basic reasons why they move in the first place. The deal is very closely linked to the domestic political consequences of the refugee crisis and the danger to governments of being seen as weak or not able to respond to these migration pressures.

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