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Self-interest behind EU Turkey deal, not humanitarianism – Anderson MEP

18 March, 2016 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has strongly condemned the deal on refugees struck today between the European Council and Turkey.

Ms Anderson, a member of the European Parliament committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, said;

"European heads of state today concluded an agreement with Turkey, the expressed objective of which was to stop 'irregular migrants' from entering the European Union through Turkey.

“In reality the deal was driven by mutual selfish interest. The EU wants to absolve itself from responsibility in dealing with the refugee crisis. Turkey wants to advance its EU membership ambitions and secure financial concessions.

"EU member states have been directly and indirectly involved in conflicts across North Africa and the Middle East. The people condemned by this deal are fleeing those conflicts and persecution. An overwhelming number of asylum seekers come from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

"Turkey has been engaged in a diplomatic offensive in recent months, masquerading as a stable democracy while at war with its own ethnic minorities. The Turkish regime’s relationship with ISIS/Daesh is highly suspect and shows no tolerance for political opponents, including a free press. It operates draconian and barbaric policies against its Kurdish population that has seen hundreds die at the hands of state forces and has an abysmal human rights record. Turkey isn't safe for its own citizens, never mind refugees.

"Contained in the agreement is a controversial 'one-for-one' proposal where Syrian refugees who land in Europe are returned to Turkey and swapped for someone already in Turkish camps. Not only is this inhumane, degrading and contrary to all tenets of human rights - it reduces asylum seeking to a human lottery. I would also question the capacity of organisations working in the field to manage this operation.

"The deal also commits the EU to speeding up the transfer of €3 billion to Turkey for refugee infrastructure. Not only do questions remain as to where this money is going to come from, it also raises questions as to the suitability and standards of Turkish reception centres and the environments returned refugees are going to have to live in.

“Last year's EU resettlement initiative promised to relocate 160,000 refugees. To date it has resettled 937.

"The EU has also pledged to "re-energise" negotiations around Turkey joining the EU. Sinn Féin supports the accession of any state to the European Union based on full compliance with the Copenhagen Criteria which hold nations to certain standards in relation to democracy and human rights. Turkey comes nowhere near meeting these criteria.

 "This deal will not halt the flow of refugees and asylum seekers into Europe. It won't save lives. The introduction and control of safe and legal avenues to asylum is the only humanitarian solution to the crisis at Europe's borders." 

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