Forget Turkey

   Why is Angela Merkel trying to defend her refugee agreement with Turkey? The fact that less migrants and refugees are now attempting to enter Europe through the Balkans does not result from the Merkel-Erdogan agreement. It is simply a consequence of Macedonia and Bulgaria blocking their borders.

   Thanks to the Internet and the media, migrants have quickly understood that Greece has become a blind alley. Many must have realized that they are better off in Turkey where they can move freely and are allowed to find work than in Greece where they are confined to islands and locked up in camps.

   Whenever Erdogan and his premier Davutoglu are boasting how effective their efforts are in blocking the migrants, they are simply free-riders of Macedonia. For obvious reasons, Merkel, too, is happy to maintain the myth that her deal with Turkey interrupted the influx of migrants.

   So far, so good. Let Merkel and Erdogan be happy. Let their respective audiences believe that their deal effectively serves its purpose. For the Europeans it matters little who stopped the refugee and migrant avalanche and how. But that is not the end of the story.

   It is getting ugly because Erdogan and Davutoglu have started blackmailing Europe. By threatening to stop their “collaboration” they insist on obtaining visa-free travel for Turkish citizens by June. Several countries are not happy with abolishing visas, apparently fearing the arrival of millions of poor Anatolian peasants. In all likelihood it is not poor Turks but persecuted and dislocated Kurds who would benefit from free travel to Europe. Apart from the fallout of the current civil war raging in southeastern Turkey it is mostly business people who would benefit from abolishing the painful and humiliating visa rigamarole.

   Although there are good reasons to consider dropping the visa requirements, the way how Turkish politicians are trying to blackmail Europe is unacceptable. Turkey deserves to be given a tough answer: Europe cannot be blackmailed and the Merkel-Erdogan deal is not worth being kept at all cost. Forget Turkey. Greece and Turkey have concluded their own bilateral deal which allows the Greeks to return migrants not asking for or being uneligible for asylum in Greece. That should be enough. No need for Europe to deal with Turkey.

   The focus is now on Libya and Egypt. That is where Europe needs to intervene to stem the flood of migrants from Africa desperately hoping to get out of their miserable situation waiting on the North African coast which is much more dangerous than the camp at Idomeni in Greece.

Heinrich von Loesch

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