No refugee beyond Turkey


WEB DESK: After hectic negotiations and tenacious bargaining the EU has succeeded in securing Turkey’s agreement to act as a bulwark of Europe against the refugees who arrive across the treacherous waters of the Aegean. Under the agreement, signed in Brussels on Thursday, Turkey would take back illegal migrants crossing into Greece as of March 20, and also relocate migrants from Turkey into Europe.

In return, the EU would double its refugee aid from $3 billion to $6 billion, allow Turks a visa-free travel throughout Europe and accelerate process for Turkey’s membership of the European Union. The deal has been opposed by human rights organisations across the world as it not only violates the UN-recognised asylum- seekers rights but also tends to undermine interfaith harmony by surrendering to the pathological fear aired by the politically-motivated by the Marie Le Pen ilk ‘Muslims are coming’. Such is the pressure of these leaders and other anti-refugees setups in Europe that even a person of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s brave heart is forced to go along with them.

And as for Cyprus, a member of the European Union perennially committed to oppose Turkey’s EU-membership; it has been seemingly silenced by the refugee deal negotiators. Rightly then, the Amnesty International staked the venue where the deal was being sealed with the sign “don’t trade refugees”. As the deal plays out, it would park millions of displaced now, and many more yet to be made, homeless in camps and shanty towns well beyond the high walls of Fortress Europe. But as a face-saver, the EU is keen on ensuring that the uprooted, destitute homeless receive good care, which Turkey will certainly give as it is used to it by hosting three million Syrians who have fled violence in their country. Such a concern on the part of the European Union leadership carries a tinge of duplicity – how genuine is your concern when you are fed up with even less than 0.02 percent of your 500 million population as refugees, a lot of who have the right skills to help boost your economies. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and many other neighbouring Muslim countries have given refuge to millions of Syrians.

For good reason, a question is being asked how come these anti-refugee activists and the Muslim-hating leaders in Europe – and now in the US also in the persona of Donald Trump – are oblivious of the reality that these very refugees are in fact a product of their interventions in Muslim countries. But for the US-led Western wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya in particular and the Middle East in general, there would have been no crisis like refugees running from their homes and trying to reach safer places in Europe. And, tragically, quite a number of them don’t make to the shores on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Had anti-Merkel political opposition not exploited her humane act of allowing in refugees and Le Pen not tried to bring down the French government by accusing it of being soft on Muslims, there would have been no need to clinch the Brussels-Ankara deal. Unfortunately, however, in the wake of the Paris carnage, the Muslim segments of local population throughout the European Union are seen through the prism of security. Those involved in the Paris attack or, who opted to join the Islamic State, are a very small proportion of European Muslims.

But, as observed by Shada Islam of ‘Friends of Europe’, the “Europe’s focus is on Muslims as terrorists, refugees, foreign fighters, criminals and misfits”. Europe, she insists, “must conduct a sensible conversation on migrants and Islam. People must move from talking about ‘us’ and ‘them’ to a more inclusive language of living in a shared space with shared concerns and interests”. The deal signed in Brussels lacks that spirit of togetherness; it is a bargain over and above the plight of homeless and destitute. The EU leadership could and should have fought its anti-refugee nemesis on its own ground and defeat it, instead of succumbing to its pressure.

Source: Business Recorder