28 April 2016

On Saturday 23 April, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during an official visit to the country. The visit was a follow-up on the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and an opportunity to discuss next steps. The high-level delegation visited Nizip refugee camp near Gazientep and inaugurated a Child Protection Support Centre – a project financed under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

During his remarks at a press conference after the visit, Tusk congratulated the EU and its Turkish partner for the deal, which resulted in “a sharp reduction of the illegal migration flows across the Aegean.” He furthermore stated that “Turkey is the best example for the whole world on how we should treat refugees. No one has the right to lecture Turkey [on how to deal with refugees].” 

Before the visit, Amnesty International urged leaders to seriously “address the catalogue of human rights abuses faced by refugees in the country, not sweep them under the carpet.” Reports of mass push-backs into Syria, as well as outright shooting of Syrians fleeing conflict zones were not part of the dialogue. The Turkish Prime Minister denied the allegations, and no further action was taken by EU leaders.

A vast number of irregularities in the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal have been widely reported by numerous human rights organisations and journalists. Despite these concerns, deportations have been resumed this week and around 50 people have been returned to Turkey from Lesvos, Chios and Kos, bringing the total of people deported to 375. On the other hand, 120 refugees have been resettled from Turkey to EU countries under the deal, according to the latest figures provided by the European Commission.  

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 29 April 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.