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Turkey and the Refugees: Never Let a Crisis go to Waste

March 9, 2016
Plain English Version
Migrants and refugees sit on a boat near the village of Kucukkuyu, in western Turkey, Guards arrested them as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos. STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Migrants and refugees sit on a boat near the village of Kucukkuyu, in western Turkey, Guards arrested them as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey is busy. It is cracking down on its free press. It is attacking Kurds who are fighting Islamic terrorists. It is seeking membership in the European Union (E.U.). It is the gateway to Europe for refugees.

This last issue is now on the front burner. Turkey is the port for refugees to get to Greece. From Greece, the migrants find their way into Balkan nations such as Macedonia. They want to get to Germany, France and England.

Some Balkan nations are closing their borders, stranding refugees in Greece. It is one big mess.

This is a good time for Turkey to make demands.

The plan is to send migrants in Greece back to Turkey. There, authorities will determine the status of each migrant. If they are not allowed into Europe, they will stay in Turkey. For each migrant forced to stay in Turkey, one legal refugee will go to settle in Europe.

Turkey wants billions of euros to take part in this program. Human rights activists say the deal violates many laws. Most of them have to do with not treating humans as people but rather as checkmarks without rights.

Turkey wants money, E.U. membership and visa-free travel in Europe. In the past, the E.U. wanted Turkey to show it was becoming more democratic. Instead, Turkey is closing down its free press.

Refugees already in Europe will find their journey more difficult. But no one knows exactly what will happen to them.

Human rights critics say the deal is a sellout. Its purpose is to get Europe off the hook. A summit meeting on the details will take place next week.

For whom is this a victory? It is hard to say.

Source: The New York Times March 8, 2016

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