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Bargaining at EUCO bazaar: Turkey wins, refugees lose

European Unions leaders needed 12 hours to buy the famous Turkish Carpet. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in Brussels with a meter-long Wish List that he put on the table. Then… well.. we all know how a bargain in the bazar looks like: client asks for price, seller tells a much higher than he really wants, client makes an anti-offer, seller replies “But, Sir, this price special for you!”, client goes, seller runs after client, seller invites client for tea & chat,  client returns to shop, seller and client start bargaining on the price, after an hour or two, seller sighs in resignation and tells client “OK, you can have carpet for this price, I make no profit, but you’re my friend.” A deal! Client buys carpet, seller gets the money he wanted from the very beginning, profit included. Client and seller are happy. A win-win situation and friends for ever.

euco turkey

And so was the development of the EU-Turkey deal on Monday, although it was the clients inviting the seller for lunch, tea and dinner. Short after midnight, the two sides had managed to agree, even though the breakthrough did not happen and has been postponed for the regular EU Summit, March 17-18, 2016.

Davutoglu lowered his original price from 9 billion euro to 6 billion but he got visa-free travel for Turks in Schengen area and acceleration of  EU-Turkish accession talks – despite the objections from Cyprus and Greece.

At the end of the day, the EUCO Summit issued a statement saying among others that the EU leaders “warmly welcomed the additional proposals made today by Turkey to address the migration issue. They agreed to work on the basis of the principles they contain:

  • to return all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into the Greek islands with the costs covered by the EU;
  • to resettle, for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian from Turkey to the EU Member States, within the framework of the existing commitments; 
  • to accelerate the implementation of the visa liberalization roadmap with all Member States with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016;
  • to speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros to ensure funding of a first set of projects before the end of March and decide on additional funding for the Refugee Facility for Syrians;
  • to prepare for the decision on the opening of new chapters in the accession negotiations as soon as possible, building on the October 2015 European Council conclusions;
  • to work with Turkey in any joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.

Of course, the resettlement of Syrian refugees from Greek islands to Turkey will only be possible if the EU member states stick to their commitments and take in refugees.

It is odd that the EU statement mentions only Syrian refugees and not refugees from Iraq and/or Afghanistan that are also considered as war zones – at least some areas of them.

As far as the economic migrants is concerned, Turkey will be obliged to take them back from the islands within 48 hours.

What is important to note is that: Syrian refugees and economic migrants will have to stay on the Greek islands so that they can be readmitted to Turkey.

With regards to Greece that has so far suffered the biggest influx of refugees, the EU decided nice things like psychological and material (financial, staff) assistance but keep the refugees trapped in Greece also stay there:

a) stand by Greece, in this difficult moment and do our utmost to help manage the situation that has arisen as a consequence of this development.

b) provide an immediate and effective response to the very difficult humanitarian situation which is rapidly developing on the ground. Emergency support will be provided urgently by the Commission, in close cooperation with Greece, other Member States and non-governmental organisations on the basis of an assessment, by the Commission and Greece, of the needs and a contingency and response plan.

c) provide further assistance to Greece in managing the external borders, including those with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and ensuring the proper functioning of hotspots, with 100% identification, registration and security checks, and the provision of sufficient reception capacities. Frontex will launch an additional call for national guest officers as soon as possible and all Member States should respond in full by 1 April at the latest. Europol will rapidly deploy guest officers in all hotspots to reinforce security checks and support the Greek authorities in the fight against smugglers;

d) assist Greece in ensuring comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection, building on the Greece-Turkey readmission agreement and, from 1 June, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement;

e) accelerate substantially the implementation of relocation to alleviate the heavy burden that presently weighs on Greece. EASO will launch a further call for national expertise to support the Greek asylum system and all Member States should respond rapidly and in full. Member States are also invited to provide more places for relocation as a matter of urgency.

The Balkan Route will allegedly remain open but FYROM has been accepting only Syrian refugees still opening its borders on and off.

The EU Commission will work further on the draft and make the final decision in ten days.

At the end of the day, it looks as if German Chancellor Angela Merkel fully accepted the Turkish proposals and I suppose, she would rather have  young Turkish migrants working in the factories than refugees from the Middle East. i remember well, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan came in power in 2004, it was his top priority – and still is – to send young Turkish workers to Germany “because German population was growing old” – as he was claiming. His real goal was -and still is – to have the masses of unemployed and low-paid young Turks work in Germany and send money back to Turkey in order to improve the general social and economic situation.

PS there are rumors claiming that

iznogoud carpet

someone saw Turkish PM flying from Brussels to Ankara on that carpet.

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  1. At first, I thought the Turkish proposal was a bad joke. Having slept over it, it might turn out to be a stroke of genius.

    Suppose 2.000 refugees cross the waters every day. They will be returned to Turkey and, in exchange, Turkey will send 2.000 ‘qualified asylants’ to Europe, i. e. refugees who fit the Geneva Convention and who are likely to be accepted as asylants. AND: they will be legal entries.

    At first glance, the flow of people does not seem to be affected by this, only the legality of the flow. The seemingly insolvable problem of redistribution within the EU remains.

    However, who in his right mind would spend money and risk his life crossing the waters when he/she knows that they will be sent back to Turkey right away? Thus, it could really affect the flow going forward and reduce the 2.000 substantially! (on the other hand, a new business could develop; ‘qualified asylants’ might pay other refugees to take the roundtrip just so that they, the ‘qualified asylants’ can afterwards legally enter the EU…).

    Perhaps I am missing something in my analysis. If yes, I would appreciate feedback.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      wait to see Vizegrad4 take refugees in & Turkey saying : take the Syrian qualified refugees first, then I take the others from the GR islands.

      • I agree but the first problem can be solved. The EU will abstain from coercion and appeal to ‘willing members’ who will then take more than their fair share would be.

        The second problem I cannot judge because I have no feeling for Turks. However, my Greek wife tells me that “you can never trust a Turk!” So that makes two of you…

        • keeptalkinggreece

          lolo = my lol refers to your 1. paragraph

        • Giaourti Giaourtaki

          What about “never trust a German”? After finding out that Germoney makes TV-crime-series in Athens without any “Greek” or “Turkish” actors participating in it Turkish TV looks more trustworthy…
          Here are some “Turks”

    • It’s illegal to return asylum-seekers from the EU to Turkey, without a legal process. Turkey is not a safe country of asylum, as it does not grant refugee status. It is even doubtful that it is legal for rejected asylum-seekers to be returned to Turkey.
      Cases involving Greece and Turkey have been heard in the European courts over the last 5 years, with clear rulings from the courts. The politicians know this, and know that if they try to flout the law the policy will be rejected in court. They are just posturing, playing political games.
      Nor do I believe that they will ever take any refugees direct from Turkey. I doubt that Turkey believes it either.

  2. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    If there would be any such factories in Germoney more Greeks would have gone there, the few factories left need in Germoney educated slaves and to learn this shit nearly perfect German (sometimes perfect English) is necessary but it looks promising that the EU will finance border control (may be even a wall?) against “illegals” from Albania and Fyrom. Does this mean the hippies will return to work in the Green houses?

  3. Leaving aside the fact that this “agreement” probably violates international laws and treaties (simply declaring Turkey to be a “safe country” for refugees doesn’t necessarily make it so), it’s counterproductive as well. If the Europeans will only accept as many refugees as the number who reach Greece before being returned to Turkey and if Turkey can only reduce the number of refugees inside its own border by the number of refugees that have reached Greece before being returned, both the refugees and Turkey have an incentive to make sure the largest possible number of migrants reach Greece. Of course one can always argue that the Europeans don’t really care what happens in Greece AS LONG AS THE PROBLEM STAYS IN Greece. But here we get to the heart of the problem – the fact that as of today a united Europe is anything but that. In reality it’s become an artificial, heartless construction where national interests prime over any notion of solidarity and common policies.

    • There are nothing but problems with this nonsense that the idiots have dreamed up. The first is quite clearly that not only is it a breach of the 1951 convention, it is also a breach of the EU treaties and all the EU directives on asylum. The second is that it makes no sense, for the reason that you state: the Turks would logically continue to allow flows of refugees into Greece, in order to return them to Turkey and be counted as one more refugee to be relocated in the EU.
      More insidiously, why have the EU come up with this illegal malakia? Three likely answers:
      (1) They want to pretend to be doing something, while doing nothing
      (2) Even if it could go ahead, the delays with relocation would take so long that the lag (maybe 9 months?) would add up to at least 500,000 extra refugees in Turkey and/or Greece
      (3) By relocating from existing refugee stocks in Turkey, the Europeans think they can pick and choose (as they have been doing with relocations from Greece). Highly skilled people; no “blacks”; no large families; no Muslims (there are a few Christian Syrians); etc etc.
      The only conclusion one can logical infer, is that the EU is negotiating in bad faith. At least the Turks could be negotiating in good faith, even if they are very tricky partners.

      • Negotiating in bad faith is, unfortunately, nothing new when it comes to the EU. Look at the way it has handled the austerity negotiations in Greece as well as in Ireland and Portugal. By now, anyone who trusts what the EU says is wholly deserving of his or her fate when they are inevitably confronted by the intrinsic duplicity and double standards of this institution (I continue to believe in a united Europe, but not in its current form nor led by the current cast of buffoons that preside over it).

        • Yes, I agree totally. Actually, I wish the Turks good luck with their skilled negotiating techniques: if only Greece had been able to deal with the crooks in the EU like this. Karamanlis, Papandreou, Papademos, Samaras… not one with an ounce of ability or patriotism.

          • When you negotiate with the EU, you have to be aware that the goalposts change constantly (e.g. the new demand that national pension should now be provided based on income criteria after 20 years of insurance instead of 15, as was originally demanded). With that in mind, I would be very wary of what the Turks will demand from Europe for their “cooperation.” I can see the EU selling Greece down the drain in order to secure the agreement it (by “it”, I mean Europe minus Greece) feels it needs on the refugee crisis. If getting a commitment from Turkey means acceding to the Turks demands on the Aegean, Cyprus, drilling rights, etc. they will sacrifice Greece without batting an eyelid. And then they will blame Greece for being “intransigent.”