Border Security Report – July/August 2019

September 6, 2019

The flow of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean trying to enter Europe, has certainly reduced. According to the most recent Frontex report, despite a spike in June, the total numbers for the first half of 2019 were nearly a third lower than a year ago, at around 42,000.

This of course is good news, but it’s not all good news.

Tensions over the number of migrants currently being hosted in Turkey is leading to public and political disquiet. There are currently over 3.6 million refugees in Turkey, mainly Syrians hoping to get to Europe.

Turkeys recent financial issues have led to a growing anti-Syrian feeling amongst the Turkish population, and
this has led to political backlash.

The Mayor of Istanbul is reported to have rounded up and deported over 6000 Syrian migrants living in that city.

According to a report in Turkeys Daily News; Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that “Europe has deserted Turkey on the issue of irregular migrants” and “If Turkey does not bear this issue [of irregular migrants] with determination, no government in Europe will be able to withstand this wave for more than six months.” He went on to say “those who want to turn Turkey into a centre for irregular migrants will eventually pay a price for this indifference. It is not enough to pat Turkeys back. They will criticize Turkey from their seats in the European Parliament and behave like leftists from 300 years back,”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also suggested that Ankara will cancel a migrant readmission agreement with the European Union should the bloc fail to deliver on its promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens

He was referring to the deal struck in 2016 whereby the EU would provide a total of €6 billion in financial aid to Turkey to help care for the migrants, and importantly, stop traffic of migrants through Turkey to Europe. Another part of the deal was that guarantee that Turkish citizens would be granted visa-free travel to EU member states.

All this ramping up of rhetoric and tension maybe just simply an attempt to get the EU to fulfil its part of the current deal in full or even better it.

But immigration has a way of derailing normal political discourse these days, like no other subject. So, it is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that if the EU deal is not concluded and the obligations met soon, Turkey could open its borders and Europe might end up facing a crisis like 2015 or worse.

Tony Kingham

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