9 October 2015

On Monday 5 October, the Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan met with representatives from the European institutions in Brussels. Together with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the two drafted an Action Plan, which sets out measures to support Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Turkey and to prevent more refugees from entering the country without controls.

If the plan is adopted, Syrian and Iraqi refugees will receive further humanitarian assistance, including legal and psychological support. Additional EU funds will finance projects that aim at helping refugees in finding a job, get access to education at all levels, including public services, in order to finally integrate within hosting Turkish communities.

The EU will further support Turkey to adopt and implement policies aimed at ensuring the protection and inclusion of refugees, with special regard for the identification of the most vulnerable refugees, including unaccompanied children and victims of human trafficking. The opening of six refugee reception centres and the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the EU is also foreseen in the document.

However, upon adoption, the main objective of the agreement will be “preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU”. Accordingly, Turkey will impose stronger visa requirements and residence rules for migrants of certain nationalities (not yet specified in the draft text.) In addition, people not eligible for international protection will be sent back to their country of origin, through joint EU/Turkish operations. Furthermore, particular emphasis is put on reinforcing border controls as well as fighting migrant smuggling.

On Tuesday, Erdoğan also met with Donald Tusk, the President of the Council of the EU. “The situation where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to the EU via Turkey must be stopped. And we cannot do it on our own, we need the Turkish side,” Tusk said, after the meeting.

According to the Commission’s proposal, Turkey will be included in the EU list of ‘safe countries of origin’. If approved, despite critics raised by some Member States, all asylum applicants holding Turkish citizenship will be send back to Turkey.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 9 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.