When refugees arrive at the EU’s doorstep - YASIN AKTAY

When refugees arrive at the EU’s doorstep

The influx of refugees that has suddenly piled up at Europe’s doorstep as soon as Turkey gave up the policy it had been applying until now aimed at preventing Syrian refugees who had been wanting to go to Europe or elsewhere is a topic that is likely to be the most important on the EU’s agenda today. When we say “in such a short period” it means that over the past four days; the number of refugees that are at Europe’s doorstep has almost reached 150,000.

The images from European borders has shown the whole world through direct exposure the severity of the problem Turkey was left to deal with alone for years.

There is not the slightest expression in any of the crowds at EU’s doorstep that they are being sent from Turkey by force. Turkey is not forcing anybody to leave, on the contrary, it is simply saying it will not prevent those who want to go. Those leaving consist of people who see Turkey as a stop on the way to Europe anyway. The number of those who have embarked on this journey despite Turkey being their targeted destination is very, very low. Turkey is not sending anyone anywhere by force anyway.

Though, the majority of those leaving are expressing their sorrow about leaving Turkey. There is a dream that is pushing them on this journey. The European dream is still one that remains valid for most. There are expectations of establishing a better life there than the one in Turkey. This expectation and motivation drives people to set out on this journey of hope.

Frankly, the end of this journey is a complete adventure and will most likely result in great disappointment. Because even if they overcome the border and reach their goal, and even though Europe has abundant financial means to offer these refugees, it will not be – and is not – that generous in actually providing all that. However, hopefuls will not lean towards letting go of a future they have not yet experienced. They will not know before they experience it and see it for themselves.

Today’s Europe is beginning to tear itself apart with xenophobia. The presence of foreigners is currently putting all of the values said to belong to Europe to an unavoidable test, let alone giving something to foreigners. While it is xenophobia itself that prevents it from accepting refugees as a human right, the presence of refugees, whose numbers are increasing daily, has turned into a test that has become very difficult for Europe to pass.

The rise of the far-right in Europe, which has no rational policy and brings along isolationism and the irresponsible consumption of its own human resources, is a reaction to foreigners that is gaining momentum due to the influx of refugees. Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this reaction is the biggest crisis faced by the EU.

What has been happening on the Greek border over the past few days alone does not present any optimistic outlook that Europe will sucessfully pass this tough test. The mistreatment of new arrivals does not only crush refugees, but it also shatters the EU’s humanitarian values, consistency, and sincerity.

As a matter of fact, the deal Turkey had struck with the EU to accept back refugees was a great opportunity for the EU: The fact that Turkey actually undertook more than was due in this deal is visible in the starkest way at the Greek border. Turkey was keeping all these refugees inside Turkey’s border by fulfilling its duty. In fact, the sole cost of this was not providing the livelihood of refugees; the law enforcement and security forces employed to prevent these refugees from moving towards Europe has a much higher cost.

There was very little that the EU had to fulfill in response to this spectacular opportunity that Turkey had provided to Europe within the framework of the deal, but the EU constantly turned this into a matter of distraction. It demonstrated the same attitude as it does with respect to accepting Turkey in the EU: getting all the benefits from Turkey for free.

Visa exemption was one of these conditions, which is almost entirely off the agenda now. There was financial support that had to be provided, of which only very little was received. Of course, what is most important is the support for a permanent solution for the conflict in Syria that is constantly producing refugees, and making the necessary pressures on the Assad regime, the root of the problem, and force him to step down. If no result-oriented step can be taken regarding this matter, Turkey’s struggle should have been understood, its fight should not have been hindered, terrorist organizations that further destabilize this region should not have been supported during Turkey’s fight.

Unfortunately, while EU countries are pursuing even more instigation with no effort aimed at preventing instability in Syria, they have also enjoyed the undeserved comfort of leaving Turkey alone in its fight against terrorism and burdening Turkey with the bill that they should have footed as a result of this.

Looking at it from this perspective, as much as Turkey is right in its decision to lift the barriers it had placed against refugee movement, it has also been a clever step that will open the doors to dialogue once more between the EU and Turkey.

Turkey is not sending anybody by force; it is simply no longer stopping those who want to leave. Essentially, its entire efforts in Syria are also to make convenient the conditions for those who want to go back. Sending by force those who do not want to go back even in this case will never be a matter for discussion.


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