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The European Immigration Crisis
Turkey Names Its Price on Refugees

As Europe struggles to come up with solutions to the immigration crisis, Turkey has sent some suggestions for cooperation—and a bill. Open Europe reports:

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, wrote to EU leaders yesterday demanding bold concessions as the price for Turkey’s greater cooperation. He proposed EU and US support for a buffer and no-fly zone in northern Syria by the Turkish border, measuring 80km by 40km. This could enable Ankara to start repatriating some of the estimated 2 million Syrian refugees it is hosting. French President François Hollande urged Cameron to speed up British security plans, including a Commons vote for airstrikes in Syria. “I am waiting for Britain to take decisions concerning Syria,” he said. “It has already started acting. But we will without doubt have to increase our pressure, the reconnaissance flights that we are carrying out, then if we have targets, objectives, that will be translated into airstrikes.”

As we’ve noted before, Turkey has already spent $7.6 billion on the Syrian refugee problem, and has taken the lead in providing humanitarian assistance and shelter. So it’s not surprising they would want some help in return for making life easier for Europe, which has shouldered comparatively less of the burden.

On the other hand, as Dov Friedman has noted in these pages before, “Turkey’s efforts in support of refugees have been courageous, but they were also self-serving politically”—and the same is true now. Some of what Turkey hints at starts to look like a plan to carve out a “safe zone” in Syria—possibly at the expense of the Kurds (win-win for Ankara)—and then just to dump the refugees there. It’s hard to believe the Europeans would accept such a cynical bargain, even as their realpolitik determination to solve the crisis grows by the day.

But perhaps there is some middle ground. Politico Europe reports that EU leaders have invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Brussels to discuss options at the beginning of next month. Some form of aid-and-enforcement deal may be workable—if the Europeans can find a way to finesse the Syria issue.

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  • Pete

    Turkey is right on this one..

    if would greatly behoove Europe — and the US — to stop this flood of illegal aliens at the source.

    • Andrew Allison

      Not at the expense of our only friends in the area, namely the Kurds.

      • Pete

        You’re not saying that, for the sake of the Kurds, Europe should continue to allow itself to be inundated with hundreds of thousands of Arab ‘refugees,’ are you?

        And are the Kurds our friends because they share our values or is it mere convenience on their part because American is the only country that sort of takes them seriously

        In the whole Middle East, I see only Israel as sharing a good percentage of American values.

        • Andrew Allison

          Of course not! The subject of the post is the Turkish proposal to screw the Kurds. The European problem is a completely different subject. And of course the Kurds don’t share our values. They are our enemy’s enemy, and have demonstrated that they’re the only ones capable of doing something about it.

          • Tom

            They’re closer to them than nearly anyone else in the region, the only exceptions probably being the Georgians and Israelis, and I’m not sure about the Georgians.

        • gabrielsyme

          Turkey isn’t the solution to the refugee crisis, actual border enforcement on the frontiers of Europe is the only plausible solution. Turkey’s proposal: a re-energized persecution of the Kurds promises to produce more refugees, not fewer, and I’m sure the Turks would be extremely happy to see the Kurds go anywhere, including Europe.

  • gabrielsyme

    Europe – and America – would be far better off funding Greece to rigorously protect its border and immediately return any migrants who arrive than paying off Turkey to restrict their movement. Turkey is a horrible bet to live up to its undertakings in any event.

    • Pete

      Well maybe, Gabrielsyme. But here’s a consideration. Do the Greeks have the backbone to return these people from whence they came? I doubt it.

      But Turkey — I think they can be relied on to stop the flow of refugees if the price is right. They are a cruder bunch — and sometimes that’s what’s needed..

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